The traditional sales cycle is dead.
The internet has changed the way we shop. When was the last time you open the Shopee or Lazada app or search for an item online to purchase? Even buying big-ticket items like cars and houses that once required sitting across a table from a salesperson now consists of a few clicks and taps of the keyboard.
Sales cycles today are no longer linear nor consistent. Even when comparing the same type of business in the same industry, there are giant swells, slowdowns and even reversals in the progression of how long a typical sales cycle takes. It is constantly evolving and you need to embrace these changes rather than avoid them.
1. It’s Not About You
The first thing to do when faced with a changing sales cycle is to put yourself in the customer’s shoes. What would you expect from a vendor or provider like yours? If you were making a major purchase, what would be important to you?
Focus on those things and stop worrying about yourself.
2. Sales Cycles Are Shrinking
Sales cycles are getting shorter year after year. Why is this happening? There are many reasons, but one of them is that customers can easily research products and services online, read reviews and compare prices, which makes them less likely to engage with salespeople until they have a very specific need or problem.
It’s not just that the internet has changed the way we buy, but also that businesses have become more efficient and effective at selling their products and services. The result is that there is less time to lose in your sales process – you snooze, you lose the customer.
3. Customer Needs Are Changing
Customers demand personalised experiences, real-time support and constant communication. They want their problems solved quickly and don’t want to wait for email responses from salespeople who may not even be working on their accounts at that moment.
But the issue with personalisation is – how do you scale? The possibilities lie with the use of new technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI). For example, many businesses now use AI chatbots to automate customer service inquiries and boost engagement rates for prospects who might otherwise go elsewhere for help or information — a shift that has improved efficiency while providing a certain level of personalised experience. In some cases, businesses that have implemented AI chatbots have seen an average of 67% increase in sales.
4. Your Customers Are Smarter
Customers are researching and shopping online and using social media, forums and reviews to learn about products and services before they buy. They have more information at their fingertips than ever before. They also have a greater understanding of what they want and what they don’t want.
This means that if you don’t adapt your approach to fit these new realities, you will struggle to convert leads into customers. You need to be able to clearly articulate why your product or service is valuable, how it benefits the customer and why they should buy from you instead of another company. If you can’t do this, then maybe it’s time for a change in approach.
5. Your Customers Have More Choices
The competition is more aggressive than ever before. As customers become savvier about what’s available in the marketplace and how to get it, they’re more likely to ask for better offers. You need to be prepared to address negotiations and objections to close deals at all stages of the sales cycle.
With brand loyalty becoming increasingly difficult to build, customers may easily switch to another vendor or provider if they don’t feel like they are getting good value for their money. That means you have to be even more competitive than ever before. That being said, our two cents is that you don’t compete on price, but focus on providing more value instead!
Take advantage of the changing landscape
Acknowledging these changes will help you create a more robust solution in your sales cycle that leads to more qualified appointments and fewer missed opportunities.
While updating your sales process and managing process changes is not an easy job, it is an important one. You might not like all the changes or want to adjust to them, but keeping your sales cycle and processes up to date will benefit your business and your team in the long run.