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Sales CycleWe are all plagued by sales cycles that take a long time to close. These can be shortened by understanding and managing two basic principles:

1)    The Compelling Business Need

2)    Reaching the Decision Maker

We all have something at home that needs to be fixed. That door that doesn’t close properly or that leaking gutter, yet we never get around to fixing them. There is no debate around the need to fix it; it’s simply not a pressing (or compelling) need.

However, if the geyser begins leaking and dripping on your head in the middle of the night, then the equation changes dramatically. This gets immediate attention and the cost of the repair is seldom of prime concern. Both the gutter and the geyser are explicit needs, but the dripping geyser is a ‘compelling’ need that requires immediate attention.

Often when we unpack why a deal is taking so long to close, it’s because the need is not perceived to be compelling. It’s the compelling needs that get the immediate attention and then the sales cycle is short because we simply can’t wait. Our job as sales professionals is to change the client’s perception and get them to a point where they will perceive their need as ‘compelling’. In this way, they will do something about it quickly, and typically won’t wait a minute longer than needed.

We can shift a client’s need from ‘nice to have’ to ‘compelling’ by simply highlighting its ramifications. To illustrate the power of this, imagine a workman offering to fit an emergency pressure release valve to your geyser for a very small fee. It will take him 15 minutes and it can be fitted it there and then. You thank him, but decline his kind offer, and as you are about to close the door, he produces a newspaper article showing a picture of a house with a piece of its roof blown away by a burst geyser that killed a person.  Fifteen minutes later you are the proud owner of a fitted emergency pressure release valve.

By showing the ramifications and implications of a given need, its seriousness  becomes understood and it moves from an ‘explicit ‘need to a ‘compelling’ need. Customers will buy products and services to address ‘compelling’ needs and won’t want to wait a minute longer than they have to. The ramifications are now understood and possibly even feared. To achieve this shift in perception, we need to investigate and understand the ramifications, then use ‘powers of persuasion’ to communicate these implications to the potential client.

The common term used for this phenomenon is called ‘Selling’!

However, not all compelling needs are attended to. Often the individual who has to make the final decision is not being made aware of the ramifications and therefore does not yet perceive it to be compelling. Perhaps one of his/her subordinates understands it, but has not managed to communicate it effectively, and the decision cycle drags on for all the wrong reasons.

So, in summary, if a need is perceived to be compelling by the decision maker, then the decision maker typically won’t want to wait and the sales cycle will be as short as practically possible.

To shorten your sales cycles, ensure that you have reached the decision maker and that he/she understands the ramifications, without which we can expect our sales pipeline to be full of deals with long sales cycles.

When our sales pipeline if full of deals that just aren’t closing, we call this the FISH principal (First In Stays There!)

Test every deal by asking two simple questions:

1)    Does the Decision Maker perceive his/her need to be ‘Compelling’?

2)    If yes, why?If no, why not?

If the answers satisfy you, you will dramatically reduce and largely eliminate unduly long sales cycles