January 08, 2009

Managing Sales Cycles To Increase Win Rates

'Many of our potential customers have reigned in spending’ complained the sales manager of a software company selling to the major financial institutions.  ‘It is not that we are losing business to our competitions, it is that more and more buying decisions are stalled’, or delayed he explained.

The turmoil in the financial markets has certainly had an impact on IT investment plans among the big banks, however how the company managed sales cycles also contributed to the number of stalled decisions.

Working with the manager and his team a range of opportunities were identified to improve the management of sales cycles, including:
  • More thorough pre-qualification – it was clear that the sales team did not have a full understanding of budgetary and timing factors in all cases

  • More extensive coverage of the buying unit – the sales team was relying on just one or two contacts in the buying organization

  • More systematic needs analysis – in many cases there was insufficient information to complete a business case for the buyer

  • Ensuring more time is spent with the prospect in order to fully understand needs, build relationships and demonstrate commitment - the amount of interaction with the buyer before submitting a proposal was limited

  • Uncovering, with buyers, latent business needs and helping them to create a compelling business case for their resolution with your solution.  In other words, sellers can't rely on buyers knowing exactly what they want, or need.  They must generate awareness of the need, rather that simply serve a ready made demand for their solutions. They have to dig beneath the surface to uncover new problems and educate buyers to needs and solutions that they may have previously been unaware of.  

  • Reducing buyer risk – there was limited use of low risk pilots, scoping, or phased projects that would make it easier for clients to commit

  • Identifying and accentuating points of pain – in most cases the sales team had not helped the buyer to create a compelling case for buying now, as opposed to later.

  • Helping the buying organisation to structure its buying decision making process, including clarifying requirements, criterion, information requirements, etc.

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