Why Does the Sales Process Take So Long?

We’re more than a month deep into 2017. You’ve started the year off strong, organizing your desk and calendars for maximum efficiency, and crossed off several key tasks on the to-do list. A couple more marks and the list will nearly be completed. But a second glance shows those tasks are carried over from 2016.

If you work in sales, you’re used to this. After all, the sales process is infamous for being rebellious and following no one person’s timeline. Migrating tasks is nothing new, you say. But have you ever thought about why the process either flies by or has the speed of stampeding turtles?

For Elevare, we’re B2B (business-to-business). When we talk about what we can do to help a company, it’s in terms of a service (or several), instead of a physical product. What we hope is our services result in more physical products for them in terms of sales and revenue.

How long it will take for a prospect to become a sale depends on how long the sales cycle is. Shorter cycles are generally shorter due to the product having a lower price, making the purchase decision a little easier. But with B2B, sales aren’t a one time occurrence, but the start of what many hope is a long-term relationship between businesses.

Lead Generation vs Sales – What’s the Difference?

Though the lines have become blurred, lead generation and sales have stark differences. Let’s unpack everything and start at the beginning. Sales is the all-inclusive word for the cycle to get someone from a person interested in your company to a customer.

Try as you might, a lead only means someone is interested in your brand, product, or a service. Sometimes a lead can be a little more than that, but not quite a sale, when they give you their contact information via a landing page or call-to-action. So where does lead generation fit?

It’s the first step in the funnel.

Sales Funnel graphic image with coins falling into the top

The Sales Funnel

So How Can You Keep the Sales Process Going While Speeding It Up?

First, start by making sure your sales team is aligned with marketing. Though it may seem they have different goals for the company, sales and marketing are a lot more alike than they may think. Not only does a business with closely aligned sales and marketing have a 36 percent higher customer retention rate, according to MarketingProfs, but B2B companies had a 24 percent faster three-year revenue growth.

Automation Is the Movement, Not the Genius of the Process

We’re always looking for a little boost, a nudge, or some way to make our lives more efficient. For marketers, automation software has been the answer to many tasks. But for the simplicity it brings, automation isn’t the magic potion for a sales cycle. Instead, that still lies solely with the sales rep. Building a rapport with a lead can’t be discounted, and neither can really learning what kind of information they want and when. Once you’ve learned that, marketing automation can provide a little peace of mind once the scheduling is set up.

How to Gain More Customers More Quickly

For a short sales cycle, keeping the fresh and strong content coming is key. A lead may have an overall problem you know you can solve, but it has several branches attached. Addressing those branches one by one in a succinct blog post or short video will let the lead know you can solve their problem by seeing the details and big picture.

Maybe newer leads respond better to longer form content, such as an ebook. Even if that’s the case, keep your content like a cup of coffee on Monday morning, fresh and strong.

Follow-Up Today, Not Tomorrow, Today

Our working lives get hectic and sales is no stranger to this. What starts as a slow week can flip a switch by 2 p.m. on Tuesday and go into high gear. With so much going on at once and nearly non-stop, callbacks, follow-ups, and other messages get triaged. Those that are moved down the triage list can quickly become buried and forgotten.

How quickly do you follow up with someone who reaches out via a landing page? A couple hours? The next day? By the end of the week? The Harvard Business Review found that trying to contact potential leads within an hour of receiving their information is best. This can seem like a quick turnaround with an already busy schedule. But would knowing those contacted within an hour have a seven times greater chance to put you in contact with key decision makers change how they’re prioritized? The sooner you can get in touch with people who make decisions, the sooner you could be celebrating another sales win.

When it comes to follow ups, think of how much time is spent – or not – following up. When it comes to measuring and analyzing, remember the phrase “measure twice, cut once.” Set goals, fine tune those being met, and scrutinize those that aren’t. Comparing once a month will give you a better holistic picture rather than once a week or every other week. Checking too often can lead to unnecessary panic and changing something that may not really need changed.

Celebrate the Wins While Learning from the Losses

You hit your sales goals for the month, congratulations! And while in a perfect world you’d move every lead into the customer column, there’s still plenty to learn from those who didn’t convert. A win-loss analysis is a considerable way to see why one lead converted and another didn’t. This type of analysis gives you and others in the company an inside look at:

  • How your company is perceived in the market
  • If your value proposition is really meeting your prospects needs
  • Whether messaging in your efforts is working or is even on track
  • Fine tuning opportunities to your SWOT (strength-weakness-opportunities-threats) analysis
  • How your sales and marketing teams can better align with one another

Keep in mind that learning what works and what doesn’t in each sale will help everyone in the short and long term.


Do You Need a Jumpstart?

If you need a jumpstart into sales or marketing, we have the right team to accelerate your business. We will teach you how to cold call and market your product or service to potential prospects with our personalized marketing consulting services. Put your business into overdrive by turning your website into a lead generating machine with our inbound marketing services. Visit our contact page and tell us how we can help or call now at 352-281-1134.

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