Trying to figure out how to shorten your sales cycle? Conversational intelligence is the secret weapon that you’ve been looking for! Let’s dive into what the sales cycle actually is and how conversational intelligence can help with it.
What is a sales cycle?
The short answer is that the sales cycle is the process through which a lead becomes a sale. Now, let’s get into a more detailed explanation -
Your sales cycle is essentially a set of specific actions that your salespeople follow to close a deal with a new customer. Quite frequently, people confuse them with sales methodologies, but those are actually the frameworks that are used for the implementation of sales cycles. The sales cycle itself tends to be more tactical and tends to include stages like 'prospect,' 'connect,' discovery sessions,' 'present,' and 'close’.
Having a sales cycle in place is critical for your business because it makes it possible for you to organizae your sales pipeline in a better manner, prioritize the right leads, and then evaluate the effectiveness of your sales team’s efforts. It provides your salespeople with a well-defined roadmap, along with common reference points so that they can get a clear picture of what both they and their teammates are doing.
The sales cycle even helps create an infrastructure that helps your representatives decide how to prioritize leads and figure out how far along these leads are in the customer journeys. Along with helping your team prioritize leads, understanding where leads lie in the sales cycle also helps your sales representatives figure out how to approach their leads in the most effective way so that the pitch resonates with their needs.
It also helps you analyze and evaluate your sales efforts, giving you clear idea of what your team did, what worked for them, what didn’t work, and at what point things ended up going wrong.
The stages of a sales cycle?
We’re going to break the sales cycle down into 6 stages here:
- Discovery sessions
- Handle objections
Prospecting is all about finding your ideal customer. You got to dig through social media, get referrals, and even look through news stories if you need to. This is one of the most important activities in sales as a whole. You’d also want to research these prospects and see whether you can even provide value to their organization at all. You’d also want to score these prospects on the likelihood of them converting into customers so that you can figure out which prospects you should prioritize.
After you identify your prospects, it’s time for you to get in touch with them. Reach out to them on social media like LinkedIn or Twitter, shoot an email over to them, give them a call, or ( this is one of the most effective options) ask a mutual connection to introduce or refer you to them.
Reach out, introduce yourself, let them see how you can provide value to them, and ask them if they’d like to know more about how you could help them achieve their goals.
If the prospect has decided that they do want to know more about your offerings and how you could help them, you would proceed to set up a discovery call (also known as a qualifying call). This call would allow you to learn more about their business, their needs, and your capability to satisfy those needs.
After some of these calls, you might find out that you aren’t too good of a fit and you can’t help them achieve what they want to achieve. But others would show you exactly what you could do to solve a major issue for the prospect, which would allow you to make a stronger pitch for your offerings.
This is the stage at which you make the pitch. You would usually build this around a pitch template that your sales team uses, customizing it for the individual prospect’s needs on the basis of the insights gathered during the discovery phase.
This presentation would generally be made to the main decision makers in your prospect’s company. You’d also have to be prepared to answer questions from the key stakeholders in the lead’s company.
Your sales cycle isn’t going to always be a breeze. You’re certainly going to run into some obstacles and bumps along the way. Your leads are going to have some concerns and objections about your offerings. You got to be able to address these objections - listen carefully, ask them to provide context, and run the objection back to them, thus letting them know that you understand their concerns before you go about addressing them.
After you handle their objections and show them why your product is their best bet, you might have to get in touch with your tech team or your legal department before proceeding with the deal. After doing that, you’d want to go for the close and ask your prospects whether they are ready to buy right now. If they are ready, you’d prepare the contract and send it over to them to be signed. If they aren’t ready, you might need to engage in more lead nurturing or even step away from their business.
How do you calculate your sales cycle?
The average sales cycle length can be calculated by dividing the amount of time taken to close all your deals by the total number of deals closed.
You can use this formula to calculate your sales cycle length:
Average sales cycle length = Count(Days to Close All Deals) / Count(Number of Deals)
Using conversational intelligence to cut down your sales cycle
Delivering relevant information
You can use intelligent chatbots to push out relevant information about your offerings and how they could help your leads. You could even run WhatsApp campaigns broadcasting these messages to lead segments who have a similar usecase in mind.
Speeding up lead generation
AI-powered chatbots can help you interact with leads and collect their information faster than other lead generation techniques could. They’re great for permission marketing as they make it more likely for leads to share their contact information with you.
This is because your leads don’t have to fill up a long form, they just get questions to answer in a conversational format, and the next question only shows up after the previous one has been answered, so your prospects have already started the process and are engaged in it, making it less likely for them to change their mind.
Improving lead nurturing
Chatbots make it possible for you to make your customers feel heard and important. If they have questions about your product, they’ll get immediate answers via the chatbot, irrespective of whether it is 3pm or 4am.
If the question is too complex or the customer has objections that your chatbot cannot deal with, your bot can transfer the query to an agent for them to deal with it over live chat. This lets you agents use their time better since the bot can handle the basic queries on their own, and only the complex ones that actually need personal attention reach the agents.