Help for Loooonnngg Sales Cycles

Standard

Too much information running through my brain
Too much information driving me insane
Too much information running through my brain
Too much information driving me insane

 

            – The Police “Too Much Information” (Ghosts in the Machine 1981)

The Police (Sting’s old group for you youngin’s-) had it right way back in the 80’s with this song.   Too much information is indeed a problem.

But 30 years later, insane would be better result than some of the other stuff that happens today because of information overload. 

For us business folks, the sales cycles are getting longer.  It feels like it is taking longer than ever for prospects to close or move to the next step or to just say “no” and allow us to move on.  That hurts.  That also makes us crazy. (Fortunately crazy is a tamer version of insane).

One of the biggest reason sales cycles are getting so long is that there is just so much information out there.

Today a prospect has a quadrillion options on line to learn about your industry, your company, your product or even you.  And what’s worse is that this prospect given the tough economy and the corporate trust issues, feels obligated to do that research.  He or she feels that due righteous diligence means a lot of research and study that years ago just wasn’t available. 

You do it too.  Used to be you threw the Sony Walkman on the beanbag, slipped on the Members Only jacket, jumped in the Taurus and trundled to the local department store to get a new fridge cuz’ the Kenmore up and died. 

Now you analyze product reviews, consumer reports, price shopper sites, debate whether to buy online or offline, wait for Twitter and Facebook replies from friends before you trundle anywhere and have a look.    Businesses do the same.  Your competitors are all over the world and they all have a website.  There’s a never ending supply of helpful online groups and associations to solicit feedback from.   Testimonials aren’t requested any more, they are already there and must be read through.

So much to look at.  So many options to study.

That takes time.  And that lengthens Sales Cycles.  That’s some of the pain of too much information. 

So what do you do?  Here are two strategies to help.  

Set A Table of Urgency

Some of the ownership of “over analysis” by clients lies with us sales and marketing folks.  Our meetings or our phone calls or our emails don’t always set the best expectations (often none at all) around time.  If they did, they might speed up the information review.

  • Set Up “Tentative” Meetings:  Trying to set up a meeting for real can be difficult when the prospect has all this information they want to review.  Set it up at least tentatively as you end the call or leave the meeting.  Use the word “tentatively” (it keeps that buyer tension low) and get it on an Outlook Calendar.   A recent study I saw said prospects are 70% more likely to keep a tentative meeting on a calendar than just an open ended invitation.

 

  • Build Checkpoints up front into the sales process. (Always position as a benefit to the prospect of course).  “At the end of this meeting you should be in a position to say you want to review more materials or not. Your time is not something I want to waste.”  Or “If you are interested in going to the next step after this meeting, the next 3 days are fully staffed for us to run numbers with your data groups”. 

 

Prescribe The Research:

 

Part of the problem with too much information is the prospect wondering where to begin to look- further stalling the sales cycle.

  • Share What To Do.   Give your prospect the competitor names, the associations to solicit feedback from and the sites where they can see objective product or company reviews.  Send them the links to the videos or the white papers and encourage them to dig in.    You’ll be surprised how this cuts the time and builds your credibility simultaneously.

 

Till next time,

Grow The Business.

Mark

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7 thoughts on “Help for Loooonnngg Sales Cycles

  1. Mark – Your post is perfectly timed. Just had a long internal meeting with a client yesterday on the ever-growing sales cycle.

    It never occurred to me that the prospects are searching for where to find information. I am going to add a list of competitive products to my information kit.

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