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Lengthening sales cycle

With more eyes on budgeting and more strict procurement processes, it seems like we're all seeing major increases to the length of our sales cycles.


Personally, I don't think there's much we can do to shrink them. There's just going to be more scrutiny moving forward.


However, has anyone been doing anything differently in terms of post proposal activities that you've found to help keep yourself top of mind and make any internal conversations for your champion easier?

๐Ÿ‘‘ Sales Strategy
๐Ÿ“ˆ Closing
6
Sunbunny31
Politicker
2
Sr Sales Executive
One technique we use all the time is an expiration date for the proposal and pricing. I tie it to reality - e.g., I don't expect them to execute months before they'd be ready - but it gives me dates to pin activities to and a reason to drive some urgency on their end. There's always a reason for any applied discount too, whether it's executive sponsorship on our end for an agreed upon activity or sign-by date. It is one way to make sure it's not an open-ended item that can gather dust for months.
CuriousFox
WR Officer
5
Senior Account Executive
Yes. With clear, actionable next steps listed for everyone, along with calendar invites for follow up meetings.
detectivegibbles
Politicker
4
Sales Director
Bingo. I don't think it needs to be any more complicated than this.

"Customer, it's been awesome working with you and the transparency has been refreshing. To keep that momentum, can we agree to have XYZ answered by ABC date to proceed so our team can meet your deadline?"
Sunbunny31
Politicker
2
Sr Sales Executive
Love this. "This ensures that we connect and can catch up with all outstanding items and anything else that arises".
RedLightning
Politicker
2
Mid-Market AE
I like that idea, but time based incentives have historically not worked for me in this role. I'm playing with the idea of a shared workspace to hold info and host a mutual action plan. But I need to find one I can buy as an individual
Sunbunny31
Politicker
3
Sr Sales Executive
I don't like the random "buy by x date and we'll save you 20%". This is more in line with making sure that pricing proposals have an end date. This then gives a date and a reason to be connecting. Heck, I mention the expiration date when I deliver the proposal to be sure we're aligned on their timeline and goals.

If you choose to include discount in the proposal for any reason, then tie it to some kind of give from the customer - whether it's a signature date, or a reference, or something tangible. They could negotiate those items, but they're talking to you at that point about what's important to them so you can adjust accordingly to make your offer attractive, as it responds to their needs. But yeah, the whole "if you don't sign by the end of our Q1, things will magically change overnight and pricing will triple and we'll have to start from scratch" is not my favorite sales tactic for many reasons.
Sunbunny31
Politicker
2
Sr Sales Executive
Oh - the MAP and shared space - would Google Docs work?
TennisandSales
Politicker
2
Enterprise Account Executive
great distinction. I have seen this happen for sure.

We win an RFP, prospect takes FOR EVER on next steps, next thing you know its been 9 months. If you have a timeframe on quotes its an easy way to keep things moving.
Sunbunny31
Politicker
2
Sr Sales Executive
Ah yes, the vanishing while they do their "evaluation".

The best RFPs call out their plans - including go live.

The worst have nothing - no idea what's next after the RFP. Leaving the rep to push on procurement to sort out what the business wants.
detectivegibbles
Politicker
2
Sales Director
Iโ€™m with ya. I donโ€™t like stipulations that push either side.

It needs to be mutually beneficial. Win win is great, but I want no lose scenarios with built in safe guards to keep everyone safe.

All comes back to communication.
Sunbunny31
Politicker
4
Sr Sales Executive
My colleague has a customer who just provided her with the entire SOE to close...from their end. Every step, approver, requirement - all of it. All laid out and clear.

I'd love to scrub the document of revealing details and hand it out to every prospect who thinks being coy about processes is a win for their side, because no, no it isn't. The gold standard is out there and benefits everyone when processes are shared and clear.
TennisandSales
Politicker
0
Enterprise Account Executive
THAT is actually a fantastic idea!!! if you have a true champion, i bet they would fill out that doc or walk through it with you.
RedLightning
Politicker
0
Mid-Market AE
I think it would! But, we use outlook and sharepoint is really restrictive when it comes to external comms
Pachacuti
Politicker
2
They call me Daddy, Sales Daddy
I have definitely seen projects being pushed out to the next budget cycle. Very frustrating. Especially when I already have 1+ year sales cycles to deal with.
RedLightning
Politicker
1
Mid-Market AE
same. I had 2 contracts out this month that have pushed indefinitely. Seems to be a recurring trend in my industry. Comission and quota attainment aside. I look like an ass when I forecast those deals and nothing comes in
SaaSguy
Tycoon
2
Account Executive
Qualify harder. It may seem counterintuitive to qualify harder, but "on the fence" deals will be extended and push out into the next budget cycle - your pipeline is going to be inflated with things that wont realistically close and make you look bad.
RedLightning
Politicker
2
Mid-Market AE
These were hard commits with wrenches thrown into them. I'm extremely pessimistic about my deals and I saw these as commits.
9

Contracts/SoW in the sales cycle

Question
14
When do you send a contract?
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6

Sales Cycle Measurements

Advice
11
21

Is there a benefit to elongating the sales cycle?

Question
33