Growth October 22, 2020

My B2B friends, how do you deal with long sales cycles?

Anton Fenske @fenske

I understand it's a bit of a generic question and it varies from industry to industry but I keep running into this problem that a decision-making process of a typical SMB takes >2 weeks.

I'm in the SaaS business helping companies take care of developer assessment.

Could you tell me if a sales cycle of that length is a red sign to you? Any tips and tricks on how to shorten it?

  1. 3

    hey @fenske, will try & give you as much as I can.

    Been a salesguy for 10 years. Sold "one pitch one close" products all the way to 18-month sales cycles ones.

    couple thoughts:

    • you don't really have the power to rush them, you need to follow their tempo
    • you do need to stay top of mind during their buying process though, but you can't be annoying and/or begging for stuff
    • a good way to stay top of mind is to take a great deal of notes during your "first call" and to follow up with the words they used and what was #1 & 2 priority for them at this moment, and keep adding substance by providing insights and educating them while following up
    • make sure you include everyone at stake on their end
    • sometimes, you won't have direct access to the person signing the check, so leverage your "champion" and equip them with everything they need (collateral, documents, crystal clear value prop)
    • if you've been completely ghosted (they haven't replied to your last 3 attempts to connect), ask if they've abandoned the idea of running the project (people hate to be called out on what they previously said)
    • to shorten your sales cycle, make sure you have a properly structured sales process
    • a good way to avoid trying to reduce your sales cycle and pressuring your prospects is to have a healthy pipeline allowing you to reduce the pressure on your next closing
    • healthy pipeline comes with referrals (existing clients), inbound (content, SEO, paid) and outbound (reach out to your dream clients)
    • use tools to stay on top of your game (wink wink, I launched makesales.io to do all of the above)

    All the best!

    1. 1

      This is an extremely good answer!

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        Glad you liked it @brycedavies hope it helps you!

    2. 1

      Thanks for taking the time to put this down, Victor!

      "a good way to stay top of mind is to take a great deal of notes during your "first call" and to follow up ..." - Love the idea. My follow-ups are quite plain now. Btw, I usually record my meetings so there should be enough material to leverage your approach.

      " (people hate to be called out on what they previously said)" - guess there's a chance to cause the opposite effect, but it's probably a good filter to find out how critical the problem is for them.

      "use tools to stay on top of your" - I'm at the beginning of my journey and so far Notion has been working ok (I have my little CRM in there). But you def intrigued me with your hands-on tips, so whenever I'm ready, I'll give makesales.io a look.

      Btw, loved https://www.indiehackers.com/post/i-analyzed-64-562-cold-emails-sent-over-the-last-2-years-here-s-how-you-should-probably-rewrite-yours-c51503afa8.
      Too few upvotes. The crowd often misses the gems.

      1. 2

        glad it helped! and yeah if you're at the beginning, Notion works fine. The moment you're trying to implement some processes, I'd encourage you took look at different tools.

        thank you for the kind words too! the post performed well on Reddit /sales but I guess people here aren't as excited about prospecting as over there, which is pretty normal

        all the best in your journey

        1. 1

          Likewise, Victor.

  2. 2

    It makes sense that it takes that long for SMBs to decide to use a coding assessment tool. That aligns with my experience.

    Whether it's a problem I think depends on your pricing and sales model. Of course you have to do things that don't scale in the beginning, but if you're planning on doing high-touch sales only charging $249 per year, that doesn't seem ideal.

    1. 2

      Thanks for checking out the site, Paul! 🙌 You’re completely right! And I’m actually planning to automate most of the flow. Still having chats though to understand people’s motivation.

  3. 2

    It really depends ;)

    I don't have a B2B product but my freelancing / web agency clients are businesses.

    For small businesses, I'd say about a month is normal.
    For enterprise, God knows. I've had clients come back to me after a year!

    It comes down to how urgent their problem is and who's making the purchase decisions. Which is why selling to small business owners are easier than selling to enterprises with multi-layered decision making protocols.

    Hope that helps!

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      Thanks for your insight! I'll keep going then. 😅

        1. 1

          Thank You, Farez! 🤝

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