With Thanksgiving and the holidays just right around the corner, we might find ourselves busy preparing for the upcoming festivities. While it might be different this year due to the circumstances, we still very much look forward to the holidays as we get to spend quality time with our loved ones (whether virtually or in-person).
However, as the year slowly draws to a close, you start to realize that time might be running out for you to close those deals and finish the year strong.
Whether you’re busy celebrating the holidays or not, here are 7 useful tips which will help shorten your sales cycle stages, so that you can secure your deals and orchestrate a smooth close plan in time for the holidays.
1. Create Urgency
With 5 weeks to go before the year ends, it might look like there is plenty of time left to tie up loose ends and close your outstanding deals. However, the real question we should ask ourselves is: how many actual working days are there left?
There should technically be about 20 working days left until Christmas Eve. However, many key decision makers might be out of office then. In addition, it is common practice for many companies to close during the Holiday season. This leaves you with even fewer opportunities to have your discussions.
Taking all this into consideration, you’re really only left with 14 days to close your deals by 23 December or before the Holiday season starts.
2. Identify the Final Steps in the Customer Buying Process to Close Your Deal
Make a plan of what needs to happen to get the contract signed by the deadline. Following that, reverse engineer it by creating a timeline so that you are aware of how early you need to get your process started. What do I mean by that?
Assuming you’d like to get the signature by 23 December, you need to take into consideration that the process of getting the signature can take 1-2 days. You should then ask “What needs to be accomplished before that?” If the project must be approved in the PO system, identifying the relevant person and getting his/her approval alone could take 4-5 days.
The next step is to find out who needs to enter it into the system and what is needed for this to happen. If the Project & Portfolio team is responsible, finding out when they’re meeting is also of help. This process could also take another 4-5 days and before you know it, you’re already at 7 December.
Point is, there are many moving parts and milestones especially in the customer buying process that a salesperson needs to know in order to control. Hence, reverse engineering your timeline is very beneficial to helping you achieve all your intermittent milestones in time for you to achieve your close plan by the final deadline. Identifying a Sales Champion within the organization is also valuable as it shortens the sales cycle stages and connects you with the right people.
3. Brief the Decision Makers in Advance
Once you find out who’s in charge of the approval process, make sure you spend time with them. Discuss all relevant deal items. If it is not possible for you to meet them in person, make sure your Sales Champion is able to brief them. A great way to align with your Champion is to note down the answers to the 3 Whys that all decision makers will want to understand:
- Why do we need to do anything?
- Why do we want to do it with this solution/company?
- Why do we have to do it now?
Outlining this on 1-3 slides gives your prospect instant clarity and accelerates processes and the entire sales cycle dramatically.
4. Work Things in Parallel
The approval and PO processes are usually sequential. However, there are ways to hasten these processes.
Getting the templates of legal contracts exchanged ahead of time is an example. Even if the deal terms still need to be negotiated, there are general legal decisions such as whose paperwork the deal will be signed on, general clauses around liabilities and indemnification that can be discussed and agreed on in advance.
5. Check Holiday Plans and Availability
Are all approvers and decision makers available to sign off on the project? If they are on business trips or away on vacation, is there a deputy or manager who can stand in? Are there decision makers abroad who have different bank Holidays? Answers to these questions will be useful in preventing any unpleasant shocks and delays in your sales cycle.
6. Pre-Book Meetings Ahead of Time.
The end of the quarter is a busy time – especially at the end of the calendar year when clients close their businesses. It is very difficult to get time slots in with client resources especially in the legal and finances departments. Use your Sales Champion and Economic Buyer to get time slots booked with the respective people to align with your resources. You can always cancel a meeting if it’s not needed in the end. Remember, the longer you wait, the more impossible it becomes to schedule a meeting.
7.Have an Emergency Plan
What if things are not going in the right direction like in most sales campaigns? Is there someone on your prospect’s end who can help move things along if things get stuck or go wrong? This is usually a person high up in the chain of command who is able to move things.
The Economic Buyer is a great example of someone you should have access to especially when looking for alternative solutions or when things need to be escalated. If you have developed a good understanding, are aligned with the Economic Buyer and have gotten the green light to go back to them when there’s a bottleneck or if things veer off track, you should approach him/her to help move things forward. It’s just amazing how quickly the situation can be corrected when the right people are involved.
These 7 tips will be useful to you especially if you’re looking to shorten your sales cycle and accelerate your sales processes. Follow them to end the year strong and enjoy a stress-free holiday season!
Take the free Deal Health Check to assess the status of all your open deals and understand what you need to do in order to make more progress.