Short Sales Cycle, Long Sales Cycle… You Choose.

In sales there are basically two types of cycles you experience in the realm of deal making:

Short Cycle – generally where you sell smaller “ticket items” or less expensive products and the decision can be made fairly quickly.

Long Cycle – is basically the direct inverse of the short cycle… Larger, more expensive products.

This seems to make which process salespeople live in fairly cut and dry right? If you sell a simple inexpensive product or commodity then you are a short cycle guy and a long cycle gal if your product is more complex and costs a bit more.

Why is it then that some short cycle salespeople have processes that drag on?

Why is it that some long cycle sales reps can shorten their sales cycle by half and sometimes a quarter of the time other, similar reps in the same industry?

The answer is two-fold:

Professional Salespeople ask for the business and do so more often. blockquote>Pros sell on Vision not on features and benefits.

This may seem simple and that’s because it is. Most sales process regardless of wether it’s prospecting, qualifying, walking away from a bad deal, or asking for a sale is simple. We make it harder than it has to be. Many salespeople are even afraid to ask for a yes. This, in many cases, is because we go through the motions but often times rush things or don’t do our due diligence. I like to think of it in terms of baseball and hitting the “sweet spot.” If you try and swing too early you miss and suffer the same result if you’re too late. You have to pay attention. You have to keep your eyes on the ball. AND you need to know where the pitcher is probably going to throw due to the signals his body is telling you. In short, you have to actively work for it and be prepared when you get a fastball down the middle. When you EARN the right to ask for the business, it goes much easier. When you pay attention and think instead of just going through the motions you always have a better outcome. So how do you go about earning the right you say?

Do the work up front and the seemingly hard part (closing the deal) becomes much easier.

The work you put into a deal, regardless of the length sales cycle, is the key. I’m not saying you should research your tail off. I’m saying you should:

Know what questions you’re going to ask.

Customize your solutions and recommendations specifically for your prospect. Don’t get hung up on features and benefits or you will get stuck battling price issues like your competitors. The prospect needs to understand the vision of why they need to change. They buy into that, asking for the business is easy.

Understand your products and how they can help businesses in a variety of ways.

Be ready to make recommendations and CONSULT.

Prove you are a resource by providing information to the prospect.

Practice constantly. With a fellow salesperson, in the mirror, by reading, and studying your craft. In the Army we used to say “the more you sweat in training the less you bleed in combat” – FYI… It’s true.

By doing the job right and by getting better at what you do you reduce the margin for error. You effectively change the house odds in your favor. This then becomes a positive feedback loop getting you more deals thereby making you better and giving you keen experiences that build your basis of knowledge going forward. There is a positive feedback to not doing things properly but I’m willing to bet you already know what that looks like :)