Sales cycles – up and down – are always going to occur. It's just the nature of the beast. Nothing in life happens without occasionally coming across bumps in the road. All that matters is that you have the proper "vehicle" to maneuver around them – going forward faster and more determined than before to reach your goals. Nothing says that because it's more difficult to sell that it's IMPOSSIBLE to sell. Options, choices and opportunities are everywhere. Always!
You have the power to drive your sales prospects through the sales process.
First, you need to stay current on everything that involves your business, and any other business that can cross over into yours. The person who stops growing and learning and educating themselves on what is working not only now, but in the future, will not survive the roller coaster ride of sales.
Always take the time to qualify you leads and prospects. Do not waste precious time on dead-end roads. Take a minute to think about how quick and effective you are at determining if a prospect is qualified. The smarter you are about this, the better you will be able to manage your time effectively.
A successful salesperson will be asking questions that the prospect hasn't thought of asking, hasn't been able to answer, and/or hasn't yet quantified. They will ask questions that increase the full understanding of the problem and increase and drive the urgency with which the customer wants a solution to deliver their desired outcome.
Sales managers need to take it upon themselves to make sure that their marketing teams are actively and dynamically managing those qualified-but not ready to buy leads in their pipeline.
They need to understand exactly where in the buying cycle each prospect is, and should also provide them with content and calls to action directly related to that stage. Managers should also work on sales enablement – giving your sales people the tools they need to be successful. Keep your eyes and ears open to new ways of selling, or how to improve on the ways and methods that you are using now.
As a sales leader, you should also put yourself in your salesperson's shoes every so often – feeling the anxiety they may have to make their numbers. I am not telling you to do the work for them. Just remember that they are people too, and a little encouragement goes a long way.
Always know what is in your pipeline! Do you check it regularly to see which prospects can be "nudged" along, and which ones should be flushed out? It's like having a clean desk – don't keep anything around that is going to "clog" up your sales process.
Dead weight will never drive your goals ahead. Stay current. If you are a manager, do the right thing for your team, by giving them support, and by staying involved with monitoring and helping prospects move through the sales process. If you are a salesperson, make sure that you do all that you can to help the process along, as well. Remember that to be a team, all parts must be working together toward a goal. Staying focused and in touch on a daily or weekly basis with what's going on in your sales funnel will prevent things from moving forward.
The more effort you put into it, the greater the rewards will be.