The topic of sales cycle is barely covered in an entire semester or even after 10s of meetings the sweet spot of your approach is fuzzy at best. The point being – no matter what books we read or how many ‘hit & trials’ we employ, sales is a practice best learned by mistakes and our response to them.
In a larger sense for understanding this very difficult concept, we have broken down the sales cycle to 3 basic sink or swim parts. These are essential considerations whether you’re a new business or an established firm.
1.Value Creation: Clearly defining point(s) of differentiation between your product/service vis-a-vis your competitors’ is as essential as the quality of your offering. Till the recent past only direct comparison was considered the most effective differentiator. Sales people used to hand out a laundry list of ‘rich features’ which set apart their offering from their nearest rival, using attractive statistics and fancy terminology to aid them in this task.
But as we are witnessing the explosion of knowledge and fee transfer of thoughts, customers have become increasingly aware of all competition even for their smallest needs. They don’t pay heed to direct comparisons as they know it is a swindle as the ‘not so good’ features are carefully excluded by sales people. The reluctance to change even in the face of minute troubles is a real aspect of customer behaviour. You need to weave a story, empathising even with the smallest discomfort of your user as to make them him/her understand that it is in their best interest to make the shift. Here a carefully designed content syndication approach works wonders as it is customisable as per the requirements of each target market and buyers relate more to real life scenarios rather than black and white dry comparison.
2. Justifying your claims: After smartly proving the superiority of your product in a language which is easily digested by your customer, now comes the real part. Why the needs and benefits outweigh the cost of your product. For this a deep understanding of your target market, its current direction, paradigms, reluctance, proclivities and opportunity is vital. Empathising with your prospects and reassuring their fears and surpassing their expectations is the only way to make them truly believe your offering is apt for the needs/desires. Conversations have to be held, preferably 1v1 to actually give the whole aspect of selling a human touch.
3. Conversion: After telling your tales and hearing out your prospects, now hopefully you’ve tipped the scales in your favour. Now comes the hardest part of all – actually making the sale. Your customer will waiver on minute points and even after all your efforts, some lingering doubts will remain. Here incentivising their next move can be the actual ‘make or break’ point. A competitive, alluring price is without a doubt the biggest incentive.
Most customers are tech savvy and know that the first price offered is rarely the price they’ll end up paying. They expect freebies, discounts and more for their money. Be prepared in advance and discuss the limits of the discounts you can offer to bring on-board new consumers.