What NOT to do During a Long Sales Cycle

If the Internet didn’t exist, you wouldn’t be reading this. More importantly, I believe if the Internet didn’t exist, we would have shorter sales cycles.

Why? Well for one, customers rely heavily on online reviews for products and sometimes take weeks, months, even quarters, scouring the web for information. Secondly, email has been - and will continue to be - another channel for the competition to pop in and say, “Hey!” right before that prospect is about to buy from you - giving them just that twinge of discomfort they need to pump the brakes.

And for a salesperson, the longer a sales cycle goes, the more nervous you get. Like that anxiety you felt when you text a person you like and they haven’t responded in 10 minutes. Maybe 20. Then the second-guessing kicks in. It’s me! I did something wrong. Maybe I didn’t add an emoticon at a key moment. I know they’re staring at their phone laughing at my agony!

But I digress...

In short, no salesperson likes a long cycle. You start doubting your skills and wonder if this scenario will play out with the next prospect. And when panic sets in, sometimes salespeople might fall into these traps.

You Go Into Desperation Mode

Prospects sometimes take a bit longer to get in touch for many reasons. They have additional people in the buying decision to work with. Or they’re working on multiple projects that are keeping them really busy. Or they’re still weighing their options. Whatever the reason, some prospects just bide their time longer than others.

In these excruciating times, sometimes the desperation to get things moving grabs hold of your better judgment and you start calling the person three times a day instead of once or a twice a week. You email so much that the spam filter finds a home for you permanently. You might even get so desperate that you mistakenly develop a little resentment to their inaction.

Always remember, this is not personal, it’s just business.  Stay professional.

You Make The Process More Complex

Sometimes a long sales cycle happens because the prospect has too many people to explain why your product or service would be valuable.  They love you, but they seem unable to relate your value to the higher-ups that have to sign off on it.

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The answer, MORE DATA!  The fastest way to confuse the situation is to just start sending more resources their way. You give them three product demos instead of one smaller sample. Instead of honing your message and value proposition, you kill them with details they can never communicate.  More is not always better!  In this situation, you must remember the acronym - KISS!

You Stop Selling Yourself

Passion and persistence are like peanut butter and jelly - you can’t have one without the other. And even though you remain persistent throughout, when the passion in your voice or body language simmers for whatever reason, the prospect soon starts to ponder where they are in all of this.  If you can’t maintain a sense of urgency around solving their problems, why should they think you could?

You Don’t Plan Out Conversations

Maybe you’ve struck gold a few times with a prospect by improvising on sales calls. It has been my experience, even if lazy and lucky sometimes come together, neither one of them are a path to better and faster sales cycles.   Being valuable to your prospect means you need to sit down and hammer out how a future conversation could unfold. Not being prepared when a prospect has basic and predictable questions about your product or pricing makes you look like you don’t care.  It also means you just extended the sales cycle with another sales call to plan for.

What sort of dilemmas do you face during a long sales cycle? We’d love to hear them in the comments below.

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