Q What marketing strategies will help to reduce the sales cycle, especially in these hard economic times when businesses are not willing to spend?
A Assuming that you have done everything else to ensure a long-term satisfying relationship, reducing the sales cycle is one of the classic goals of effective sales management. In the current economic environment, the most common reason for delaying purchases is risk and uncertainty. As with other objections, you need to understand the source and reasons for the change in buying behavior.
One of the ways organizations (and individuals) deal with risk is to include more people in the decisionmaking process. As a result, you must adjust your sales process to make room for the expanded consensus-building process or else focus on simplifying the buying process of the customer. You can also target specific risk factors that are of concern for your customers. For example, you can offer extended warranties, money-back guarantees or extended receivables (more time to pay).
Finally, you may be able to reduce your customer's uncertainty by providing additional information on the expected buying behavior of your customer's customer. Coordinating collaborative vertical marketing meetings to discuss building and growing business can be an effective sales strategy, especially for key accounts. Depending on the characteristics of your product and target market, you can also try to create a "pull strategy" -- that is, selling to your customer's customer.
PROFESSOR OF MARKETING,
UNIVERSITY OF ST. THOMAS
OPUS COLLEGE OF BUSINESS