Industry Insights Report: Is This the Key to Shorter Sales Cycles?

Sales cycles are getting longer as the buying process gets more complex. In this post, we show you ways to fight complexity and shorten your sales cycles.

February 17, 2017

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Back in 2014, Sirius Decisions reported that the B2B sales process took 22% longer than it did just five years earlier. Fast forward to today, and we now have even bigger B2B buying committees than in 2014. That’s more people processing more information, not to mention more people who need to come to a consensus. In other words, the evidence says sales cycles are getting longer yet.

But just because sales cycles are expanding in general doesn’t mean you can’t shrink them at your company. In fact, many companies have reduced sales cycles amid climbing industry averages.

It seems we’ve accepted this notion that today’s B2B sale needs to be more complex. Yes, there are factors that add complexity, but that doesn’t mean we need to accept complexity as a blanket excuse for why deals slowly trudge through sales pipelines, preventing reps, sales leaders, and organizations from higher profits. Maybe it’s time to start pushing back against complexity.

Is Your Sales Strategy as Simple As It Can Be?

Your buyers may face added complexity in their decision-making process, but it’s not because they asked for it. In fact, buyers want you to simplify their lives. They may not ask for a salesperson, but they need someone to help them make sense of all the complexity.

You hear a lot about the empowered buyer who has more information and options than ever before. In reality, many of these “empowered” buyers are overwhelmed buyers. They’re inundated with information, options, and opinions.

Ask yourself, what are you doing to simplify this process for your buyers? How can you add clarity? How can you eliminate confusion?

Today, it’s the companies that streamline the buying experience, the ones that strategically focus on making it simple for buyers to do business, that have the advantage. Plus, a simpler buying process is the most natural way to a shorter sales cycle.

Always Be Simplifying?

“Closing” a sale isn’t what it used to be, especially in B2B. And let’s face it; the thought of someone using old-school closing techniques to convince entire buying committees to sign a proposal before they’re good and ready is laughable.

While sales pros are more beholden to buyers’ decision-making processes, there’s still room for assertiveness, though. In fact, you could argue that by not being assertive when it comes to securing the next step in the process, you actually do your buyer a disservice. Especially when there’s confidence on both sides that the solution is the right fit. Think of it this way: When the end is in sight, you’re not the only one who wants to keep the momentum going.

While you probably wouldn’t use a choice close or an assumptive close to close the actual sale, these techniques can still be useful when securing the next step. For example, rather than saying “we’ll get back to you with a few available times for a tech feasibility call,” have two times ready and ask which one works best. Whenever possible, schedule the next meeting before the current meeting ends. If two people need to meet to make the next step happen, make the assumption that it’s okay to connect them via LinkedIn in real time.

This way, rather than everyone wasting each other’s time playing phone tag and apologizing for delayed email responses, both teams are off and running to the next action. Granted there’s a distinction between being assertive and aggressive, but with a little tact, your assertiveness can eliminate the complexity that stalls deals between steps. And your prospects will appreciate that about you.

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