How to shorten your sales cycle

It’s one of the holy grails of sales. How do you sell your product more quickly? 4 enterprise sales experts offer their advice.

In June we staged our first Sales Confidence conference at HereEast, in London’s Olympic Park. We called it SaaSGrowth2018. We had over 200 SaaS professionals in the audience, watching more than 30 of London’s foremost SaaS experts share their knowledge. Even if you couldn’t make it, we want to share the inspiration and education with you through our SaaSGrowth2018 articles.

Enterprise questions

Our first panel discussion of the day was about successfully navigating, negotiating and selling to FTSE 100 and enterprise accounts. We had 4 terrific speakers share their tips, then afterwards we had a round of questions, moderated by Hannah Godfrey from Winning By Design. You can read what our speakers thought were the essential qualities of an enterprise salesperson here.

Hannah’s next question was:

‘What’s your top strategy for trying to reduce the sales cycle in enterprise sales?’

Ben Kiziltug

Our first answer came from Ben Kiziltug. Ben is Regional Sales Director at Stack Overflow, the community for online developers to share their knowledge and build their careers.

For Ben, it’s all about making the sales process as efficient as possible. There’s always more than one decision-maker, so rather than duplicate your efforts, try to cover them all at the same time.

‘Get everyone involved as soon as you can. Get them in the same room.’

This is hard, but worthwhile.

‘People try to follow the path of least resistance. The path of least resistance for a sales rep is the person that will talk to you! The person that is willing to talk to you is probably not the right person.’

Dan Hughes

The Negotiation Guru, Dan Hughes, went next. For Dan, perception of power is all-important when you’re negotiating, so looking like you want to rush things is not desirable. He offered a counter-argument.

‘I wouldn’t try too hard to reduce the sales cycle as much as you want to. The party that tries to reduce the timescale ends up being the victim of the time pressure. Plan for it. Be aware of it. If it’s going to take 9 months, so be it. Get more leads in your pipeline instead. Time pressure is a huge lever of power.’

Tom Castley

Our next answer came from Tom Castley, RVP Account Management EMEA at Apptio, the IT business management organisation. Tom is a long-time friend of Sales Confidence and loves to shake things up with his views on the SaaS business.

‘Something that takes a year to sell and build is solving last year’s problem. Deals that you think take a long time, they’re a big deal to you. They are not a big deal to the customer. They’re used to spending that kind of money.’

‘Salespeople are 80% of the delay to a deal. It’s not the customer.’

Brendan Walsh

Our final answer came from Brendan Walsh. Brendan is VP at Zuora, the SaaS software creator powering the subscription economy.

‘We use MEDDIC internally. E is so important, Economic Buyer. So, if there is no strategic initiative within their organisation, we are out. If you have a low-level champion that’s great, but it needs to be on the CFO’s desk. If we don’t have that early Executive engagement, we get out. We need their commitment.’

If you’d like to find out more about MEDDIC, check out this article from Sales Confidence.

James Ski

I didn’t get to speak during this part of the event, but this is my article so I want to offer my two cents!

All I would say is that qualification is so critical. Always be looking to qualify prospects out of your pipeline. Look for reasons not to do the deal. When your pipeline is only filled with prospects who are likely to buy, you will spend your time on them rather than wasting it on people who will never buy. This may reduce the time it takes to close the deal.

You can find out more in this article from Sales Confidence.

How about you?

We’ve heard from our 4 experts, and me. Now it’s your turn. What do you do to reduce the length of the sales cycle? Let us know in the comments below.