Every potential customer contact right from the time a sales enquiry is made till when the actual sale happens is what comes under a Sales Cycle. It is a systematic approach to sales which results in fast selling of products & services and must be given the due attention it deserves.
Enquiry generation is one of the most critical aspects of any business. The process to a Sales Cycle begins the moment you get a sales enquiry through a prospective customer. This could be in response to your marketing campaigns (e-mail marketing, newsletter, advertisement, etc.) or by a prospect approaching you at the trade show or your retail outlet. Irrespective of the means by which a customer generates that critical enquiry, if you are not able to convert the enquiry to actual sale the case would rest in what we call the Sales Cycle. The biggest challenge faced by an organization, an especially a start-up is to keep this Sales Cycle occupied at all times.
Managing Sales Cycle
Estimating the value of your Sales Cycle might not be possible but measuring it is quite feasible and can help in identifying critical areas of opportunity for your business to work upon and improve. It is very important to continuously measure what comes in to this Sales Cycle, what changes take place and what goes out of it. Without a proper measurement in place you would not be doing justice to the importance of the Sales Cycle concept for an organization.
The need for an effective Sales Cycle strategy is required:
- In order to maximize the sales capabilities of a business by defining stages such as selecting the right communication channel to choose, the kind of information to be shared and the frequency of contact to be maintained in the process.
- To effectively segregate prospects which are sales ready with the ones who are not, as this is an on-going activity a Sales Cycle strategy to pick out sales ready prospects from your Sales Cycle is a must.
- To serve the precise information which a customer wants. By stepping in to the shoes of a customer you will realize that at every stage of the buying process there arises a need to get vital bits of information to finalize your decision. An effective Sales Cycle strategy allows you to effectively communicate information as and when
Managing your Sales Cycle is all about focusing on the best prospective customer. You need to understand that you cannot focus on sales numbers and make a prediction of the amount of sales you will notch up in the coming quarter. But you can most certainly monitor and control the activities around your Sales Cycle to get the best conversions possible i.e. from leads to actual sales.
Following tips can help you effectively manage your Sales Cycle and get the best out of it:
- Analyzing your sales prospect. It is very important for you understand key facts about the prospect in question so as to mark them as qualified leads. Things like overall budget of the prospect, duration of the sales cycle and the key decision makers will help you narrow down your Sales Cycle efforts.
- ‘Never attempt to sell’. Yes, that is one sure-shot formula to convert leads to actual sales. It so happens that an average customer has the tendency of treading with caution when it comes to finalizing his buying decision. Questions such as: Whether the product or service that I am going for is really worth the price I’ll pay? Is there a better product available? Can I get the same product/service elsewhere with a better deal? The last thing a customer would want when contemplating over these questions is a pushy salesman trying to close the deal in a hurry without going in to the merits of the commodity in question.
- Set your USP. Your Unique Selling Proposition is what sets you apart from competition and must be put across to your prospective customers in a swift yet subtle manner. Any positive information related to your brand and the products/services on offer will help your prospect make that positive decision in your favor.
- A robust CRM in place. Using technology to value add in your efforts to regulate the Sales Cycle process can help a great deal in achieving the desired results. Defining stages and revisiting them through an automated process can help save a lot of time and effort for you. A robust Customer Relationship Management (CRM) will track your leads and remind you of the next important activity to be carried out for the prospects in your Sales Cycle. Since leads generation is an ongoing business function and it is virtually impossible to memorize every interaction with your prospective customer a Customer Relationship Management tool turns out to be one great investment decision for your business.
By managing your Sales Cycle effectively you will be able to reduce the time taken to convert a sales opportunity to an eventual sale. The above points will help you develop a structured Sales Cycle and help you mend any ‘leaks’ to it. It is very important to streamline your Sales Cycle process in order to invest your time and effort with the right leads. The disciplined use of such a Sales Cycle mechanism will allow you to get an accurate forecasting of the sales trends, identify bottlenecks and suggest corrective action wherever you identify an area of improvement.
- Every impression you may on someone will stay with them forever, so make sure the first one that you give them is your best.
- And don't let the man with the shovel tell you how many elephants to have in the parade
As a 30-year industry veteran, Marco Giunta has always had a futurist look at sales management, and worked with many of the leading companies in the Outsourcing industry, in the likes of Tata, Accenture, Collective Technologies, Storage Networks, Cordiant Communications, Decision One and IBM.