Science and the Length of Your Sales Cycle

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Oct 09, 2013 @ 07:10 AM

When Objective Management Group (OMG) evaluates a sales force, 1 of the 26 questions we answer for clients is, Can You Shorten Your Sales Cycle?" 

We have some science behind that and as part of the analysis we conduct on a sales force, we can determine whether they have the skills and sales DNA for that to become a reality.

There are 11 factors that contribute to determining whether a salesperson or sales force can shorten their sale cycle, not including the factors that determine whether or not a salesperson is trainable and/or coachable.

In the screen shot below, this real sales force (names have been changed) has, on average, only 3 of the factors.

Shorten Sales Cycle Factors

One of the 11 factors, that has a great deal to do with the length of the sales cycle, is whether or not the sales force and/or the salespeople have an effective sales process.  As you can see from the image above, nobody was following an effective sales process.  Another really important factor is exactly what salespeople actually believe - what they think - relative to the sales cycle.  In the next screen shot, you might be able to read some of the beliefs that this sales force had around the sales cycle:

SLBeliefsThose two factors alone are enough to double the length of a sales cycle!  There are still 9 more factors that have an impact; however, just from what we've discussed and reviewed so far, it's obvious that this company's sales cycle is M-U-C-H longer than it needs to be.

That gives you a sense for how we go about answering questions for companies.  But there is an additional way!

At my sales consulting company, Kurlan & Associates, we use, love and strongly recommend Membrain as a sales pipeline tool.  They have awesome pipeline analytics that are available right out of the box.  Check out the next 2 screen shots that have to do with - you guessed it - sales cycle length!

Sales Cycle Age

This screen shot basically shows that this company has almost no chance of closing an opportunity beyond 51 days.

Sales Cycle Time in Phase

This screen shot shows that opportunities, that spend more than 10 days in any stage, rarely close.

Sales Science:  When you combine the contributing factors to a long sales cycle and then provide salespeople with actual statistics that show what happens when they allow the sales cycle to extend, we can change behaviors.  When we provide an effective sales process, milestones, qualifiers and effective sales strategies and tactics, we can change results.

Are you using all of the science that you can get your hands on to radically change the way your sales force performs?

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, sales force evaluation, crm, Sales DNA, pipeline management, sales science

Make Your Salespeople Focus on This to Grow the Business

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Sep 05, 2012 @ 06:09 AM

After being on vacation for parts of the past three weeks, it's important for me to quickly determine what I need to focus on today, my first day back.  Of course, my calendar and task list suggest that most of the day has been laid out prior to my vacation, but there is so much more to refocusing myself than what appears on the calendar and task list.  As a matter of fact, most salespeople struggle with what to focus on even when they have not been away.  And sales managers are often unable to help because they have the same problem.  If they ask, their question is probably, "So, who will you be talking with today?"

Let's focus on the only tool more important than the calendar and task list - your pipeline management tool.  Most salespeople, despite dozens of CRM applications from which to choose, still don't fully comprehend pipeline management.  And if they don't get it, they probably aren't managing it!

Whether it's a return from vacation, start of a new year, beginning of a new quarter, the first day of a new month, or even a Sunday evening, the starting point should be a salesperson's pipeline.  While sales processes have varying multiple steps, the pipeline must have exactly four stages.  When we pay attention to the pipeline, we can narrow the focus even further and determine:

  • How many opportunities must be added (to suspects)?
  • Which opportunities (from prospects or qualified) need to be moved forward?
  • Which opportunities (from closable) need to be closed? 

Not part of today's topic, but worthy of its own discussion, is the fact that most pipelines are not accurately staged.  Should you Restage Your Pipeline?

sales pipeline

When salespeople begin with the calendar and task list, they can get through the current day, week or month.  When salespeople begin with pipeline management, they can grow the business.  So, rather than, "Who are you seeing today?", the sales manager should be asking, "After you review your pipeline, what must you do to grow the business?"  And the answer must take the form of: 

  • I need to add n prospects.
  • I need to get movement with the following opportunities.
  • I need to get these opportunities closed.

Given the busy calendar and task list, the next question to be answered is how do your salepeople manage their time so that the requirements identified above are integrated rather than postponed until they have time?

Make sure that your salespeople schedule time - appointments with themselves - for completing all of the required calls, emails, and follow-up.

Refocus on the pipeline because the calendar and task list are already in place!

This is one of many important topics which we will discuss at my Fall Sales Leadership Intensive which is less than one month away.  I believe that we have 2-3 seats left, so if you wish to attend, you should let me know ASAP.

Topics: sales competencies, sales culture, Dave Kurlan, sales management, sales focus, pipeline management

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Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader.  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog earned a medal for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog award for six consecutive years. This article earned a Bronze Medal for Top Sales Blog post in 2016, this one earned a Silver medal for 2017, and this article earned Silver for 2018. Read more about Dave.

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