5 Actions You Can Take to Shorten Your Sales Cycle at Every Lockdown Level

Even though a lot has changed over the past 18 months since the first lockdown, many trends in B2B sales simply continue on the trajectory they already were on a few years prior. Back in 2021 during a product launch I had a speech about the sales cycle getting longer because of three reasons. As you can see these reasons only became more prominent over the past 18 months:

More people get involved even in the smallest purchasing decision. Some believe this is a result of increasing micromovement in companies of all sizes. Today, it might also be a reflection of uncertainty and a reflection of limited resources.

Senior Management changes so often that they don’t get a chance to finish what they started. Did you know that from our extensive research of 92% of NZ companies with 50+ staff, prior to 2021, C-level positions were changing at a rate of 32-37.5%? Since 2021 the rate of change is over 40%.

This means Senior Execs simply don’t get a chance to finish what they start.

It’s increasingly hard to reach people to follow up and offer an extra touch point or get a chance to share more information to speed up a decision-making process. We are now at the point when companies change a landline to an undisclosed cell phone. Even knowing this cell phone means nothing because people are less likely to pick up the phone from an unknown caller. The biggest challenges today’s salespeople face: Establishing urgency (42%), Getting in touch with prospects (37%), Overcoming price objections (35%)      

Budget is the most common reason stronger sales opportunities fall apart. On top of this, the traditional B2B sales approach, which relies on travel and face to face meetings and demonstrations, has suffered greatly because of lockdowns and travel restrictions. Anyone who thought that 2021 is all back to normal, now knows that there is no turning back and special adjustments need to be made because of the unpredictability of the world we live in. In the face of these challenges, many B2B business owners are trying to figure out how to continue to make sales to at least stay afloat and hopefully grow. The good news: here are 5 actions which are supported by reputable research of what any B2B company large or small can do in a situation of massive uncertainty and shifting market needs.

As a company you have to develop an appetite for better knowledge of your fundamentals, starting from:

• Customers
• Sales
• In-depth product and service knowledge

This knowledge is often spread across individuals in the company and not properly captured at all. While we’re in lockdown and travel is limited, it’s a good time to get on top of this information. A good first step is to get a single list of all your customers and prospect base to understand them better. In addition you need better, modern tools to be more efficient and productive. Finally collating product and service in knowledge in files which are accessible and easy to navigate is a vital step in ensuring everyone on the team can be just as knowledgeable.

In 2021 and beyond, the ability of your sales professionals to embrace and commit to learning will be an underlying success factor for the longevity of your business.

Here are the top ways to create a positive sales experience, according to buyers:, Listen to their needs (69%), Don’t be pushy (61%), Provide relevant information (61%), Respond in a timely manner (51%)

Action 2. Start Helping Your Prospects at an Early Stage

Everyone knows that being involved at an early stage of the project gives an undeniable advantage. Countless hours are invested and wasted by companies trying to get in the front row of a project to be better noticed. While some approaches worked well in the past, today most buyers prefer to do their own research. How? By using the content available online. Regardless of the size of your company and how good your sales used to be. Today’s prospective customers are researching online to learn more about you and what you offer. If they can’t find you, or you have limited information online, then you will start feeling the heat of lost sales very soon because this trend will only grow. Examples of insufficient content include:

Websites created in 2010 or older that aren’t mobile friendly

Just a couple of sentences about your products and services No faces on the website – people still buy from people

Poor or non-existent LinkedIn profile

No articles, blogs, or any content that can help them learn about their problem and your solution

Action 3. Follow Up with Increased Passion

Most successful sales professionals love to boast about their ability to follow up. I’m no longer impressed with their ability to do so for the following two reasons: If it takes 18 touches to close a sale, I question if they ever really do that much follow up. And in the rare cases that they do, I question where they get the time to open new opportunities (typically the answer is they have no time for anything new because they have to chase existing non responding prospects).

Action 4. Recognise the Value of Tools What would you say if your accountant would use an abacus to do your tax, and charge their usual hourly rate? Hard to imagine? I agree. Then why do so many businesses tolerate sales professionals who don’t use a CRM or any other productivity tools? In my 16 years in business, I’ve heard so many times: “Yeah, we invested … (up to 2 million was the largest amount I’ve heard in this sentence), but we don’t really use it” And I can barely recall a few times when people said, “2-4 phone calls before a company gives up; 12% would like a company to try as many times as it takes to get a hold of them. 70% of salespeople stop at one email. Yet if you send more emails, you’ve got a 25% chance to hear back. 42% of people would be encouraged to make a purchase if the sales rep called back at an agreed-upon, specified time. By the way, a CRM is just one of the examples, there are also email marketing automation tools, autoresponders, access to better data, social selling tools, and many more wonderful tools. All of these are designed to allow you and your team to go home sooner, save time on tedious searching of the internet, and reduce manual data entry.

Action 5. Sharpen Your Pitch I’m not sure if this action deserves the last spot. I only left it last out of respect to many sales professionals who have already mastered their sales pitch over the years. And even if you have, the message here is you have to revisit it to ensure: Your facts and figures are up to date Your competitor’s analysis or assessment of the market is up-to-date (what was unique 20 years ago, might no longer be revolutionary) Your presentation, because you need both an online and print version. You also need a web version and a short email version, and possibly even a video presentation.