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Is Your Sales Cycle Lengthening? Do You Know Why?

Published by Hannah Hood on 27 Jun 2024

When your days-to-close increase, it’s easy to point a finger at the prospect: Businesses have less cash in the bank, especially now that PPP money has all been spent. They come to sales calls with more stakeholders and take longer to align on solutions. With more cooks in the kitchen, things inevitably slow down.

But are you sure that’s the whole picture?

When you see an uptick in your sales cycle length, the first thing I recommend is to drill down deeper into the individual phases. If you aren’t already tracking the length of each phase, start there. 

For example:

  1. Prospecting: Contact with the prospect through outreach, events, etc.

  2. Solutioning: Meeting with the prospect in one or more sales or solutioning calls to determine how your services provide a solution to their needs

  3. Proposal: Team submits initial proposal to prospect 

  4. SoW delivered: Final scope of work drafted and submitted to prospect

  5. SoW signed: Engagement begins when client returns signed scope of work

If you are tracking these numbers over time, you can take note of any trends. In some cases, there will be issues outside of your control. For example, if clients are delaying signing an SoW, you can incorporate a follow-up process; but at a certain point, it’s out of your hands. sales cycle length

What interests me are the areas where you can control your sales cycle – or at least influence it. Even shaving off a week from your days-to-close average can make a big difference when it comes to boosting utilization and, ultimately, revenue.

If your problem is in phase 2, solutioning, ask yourself: Are prospects asking for more solutioning meetings? That could point to general economic skittishness, but it also could suggest you need to change up your pitch deck or your sales approach in general. Maybe providing recordings of the call or additional sales material could help prospects get to a ‘yes’ more efficiently.

If your problem is in phase 3, proposal, ask yourself: How long is it taking your team to submit a proposal? This is the biggest area where I see potential for improvement when it comes to shortening the sales cycle, and it often comes from creating a process for proposal writing and timely submission to the client. (One great way to streamline proposals is by creating a product catalog, as we’ve discussed.)

With relevant data, you can zoom in on each of these areas and do a little more digging. 

The answer may be a sales issue, it may be an operations issue and, yes, it may end up being a prospects issue. (And over the course of your business, it may be different issues at different times.) But by keeping an eye on each of the segments of your pipeline you can keep the focus on things within your control, and by taking a data-driven approach, you can make sure each of your departments feel accountable for their part in the process.

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