Closing the Sale: 5 Simple Steps to Move the Sales Cycle Forward Faster

Most sales cycles are far, far longer than they need to be.

What does that mean precisely to you?  It means that it takes longer for you to meet and exceed your objectives.  It means losing more sales. It means having your boss breathing down your neck. It means frustration and disappointment.  And it means mediocrity.

In many cases you can shorten the sales cycle by following a simple process.  If you are interested in generating more sales in less more time, then read on.

A Dose of Reality

Here the situation: after a sales call or visit the overwhelming majority of reps intuitively know what needs to be done next to move the sale forward.  The problem is that the overwhelming majority of reps don’t do it.  Or at least they don’t do it as effectively or as quickly as they might. Consequently, momentum is lost.  The sales cycle slows. The ultimate sale takes longer or is lost.

The Debrief Process – What

The sad thing is this: managing and shortening the sales cycle is relatively easy.

Here’s all you have to do: after every call or visit, take 2-3 minutes and following the five step ‘debriefing’ process listed below. In other words, review what has just happened and determine what you need to do next.

1. Note it

First, jot down any notes, observations and comments on paper or in your computer. This is not rocket science.  But generally speaking reps have a reluctance to paper work so they skip this step. They keep details stored away in their minds convincing themselves that they’ll remember what needs to be done. Some are successful at this others, the majority, are not.  Write it down. Nothing fancy, nothing complex; just write it down.

2. List it

Next, and this is important, list everything that needs to be done to move the cycle forward.

Ask your self “What next?” But you need to push yourself here.  Most reps will know what needs to be done next but you should be thinking two, three and four steps beyond this. What other things, tasks, or activities could you be doing that will shorten the cycle? What can I do to create value and stimulate action on the part of the client? A thank you card? An article of  interest? A proposal? What?

This step separates good reps from great reps. Great reps, list everything that needs to be done and then some.

3. Prioritize

This, too, is a simple task and easy to perform. Ask yourself: what needs to be done right now and what can be done later.

4. Schedule it

Schedule the tasks you have created.  This step is the big differentiator.

Most sales reps know what they should do to keep the sale simmering. But precious few will actually schedule the task in their contact management software.  If you plan to send an article or e-card, schedule precisely when you will send it. If you don’t schedule, you won’t do it or you won’t do it on time.

If you plan to make a follow up call to three different departments, schedule them.  If you don’t, the time to do these tasks will get extended by days or weeks or worse, ignored or forgotten completely. If you need to draw up a quote or a proposal, schedule it.  Get the message?

Use you alarm function and obey it. Batch activities at certain times of the day. Block it out on your calendar to ensure you keep the ‘appointment.’

5. Do it

Finally, just do it.  If you have something scheduled do it. Don’t procrastinate. Do it. Do it NOW. Get it done. When the alarm or appointment function pops up, obey it. It will keep you on track.

Summary

You’ll see this over and over again:  sales are made up of a lot of little things done right.  These five “what next” tips are so deceptively simple that your first reaction will be to dismiss them completely. But what they do is create discipline.  A process is a repeatable event and easy enough to master.

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