Alex Lopes

@IamAlexLopes

5 Tactics That Really Shorten The Sales Cycle

I recently read an article by Tomasz Tunguz called The Number One Objection in the Sales Funnel.

This article reminded me of my selling days (pouroneout) and the challenge of the prospect lacking urgency to purchase your offering. I wanted to take a minute to share 5 tactics that will help you create urgency with your prospects.

Tactic 1: Time-Boxed Trial

Once someone starts a trial of your product, create an “artificial” deadline for when that trial runs out. At my last company, we used 14 day trials. Other companies use 30 days. This definitely works. Most of your trialers will convert the day before the trial ends, the day the trial ends, or the day after your trial ends.

Tactic 2: Usage Limited Trial

This is another great tactic to drive urgency. Give someone a free trial that runs out after they have hit some type of usage quota. For example, if you have an app that makes it easy to tweet, you could cap the trial at 50 tweets. After that, they need to pay. It gives the user time to build the product into their existing workflow, thus increasing the switching cost of leaving your product.

Tactic 3: Problem Resolution Timeline

This is the most important tactic that a sales team member should get good at. You’ll want to identify the problem, how critical the problem is, and when the problem needs to be fixed by. The conversation could look like this (extremely simplified):

Sales Rep: We help digital marketers who are frustrated with how much money they spend on unqualified leads. As you look at the process of getting approval to increase your ppc spend to get more leads, with all that going well, what concerns you the most, if anything?

Prospect: Actually, I don’t know if everything is well. I can’t prove that our ppc program spend is actually responsible for our good leads that turn into revenue.

Sales Rep: Tell me more.

Prospect: I recently tried to increase my paid search budget, but my boss wanted to see revenue attribution, so that we could figure out if my adwords spend was responsible for our good leads. I’ve spent time in google analytics, but the “models” that I build with that data aren’t good enough to increase my budget.

Sales Rep: It sounds like there is data that is missing that is keeping you from being able to show the effectiveness of your ppc spend. What impact does this data fog have on your ability to generate more leads?

Prospect: It’s terrible. I rely on PPC to generate leads, but if I can’t increase my budget, then I can’t generate more leads.

Sales Rep: I totally get that. It sounds like you’re in between a rock and a hard place. How does this ppc data fog impact you personally?

Prospect: It sucks. It’s hard for me to prove that the work my team is doing is directly helping us win as a company.

Sales Rep: Yeah. I’ve definitely been there, and I know how you feel. You have a lot on your plate right now. Would this issue of not being able to prove the revenue impact of your PPC spend be a high priority, medium priority, or low priority given all that’s on your plate right now.

Prospect: High

Sales Rep: Okay. Just a few more questions. How have you tried to solve this in the past?

Prospect: Well, we’ve run models showing what percent of adwords spend turn into revenue. We’ve used UTM parameters when sending people directly to a form. We’ve looked at marketing automation softwares like Marketo to see if they could solve this issue for us.

Sales Rep: If there was a solution that would help you solve the problem of not being able to attribute your PPC spend to revenue, what would you expect in it?

Prospect: I want to see my converting keyword. I want this to go to salesforce, so I can run a report on which keywords were directly responsible for my customers. I basically want to see the data in one place.

Sales Rep: Okay, there are three pieces of data that you could get. You could get the ad campaign name, the converting keyword, or the average cost of the keyword. Which of the three pieces of data would you want to see next to the customer?

Prospect: All three.

Sales Rep: Last question. When do you need to start collecting this revenue attribution data in order to make a case to your boss to increase your adwords spend?

Prospect: Yesterday.

Sales Rep: Lol. That’s not quite possible.

Prospect: I would need a month of data. So realistically, I would want to start gathering the data in the next two weeks, so that I could have a month of data to bring to her in a month and a half.

There you go. Your “go-live” date is in two weeks. You basically quantified the pain (the leak in the boat), and then asked when the prospect wanted the boat to stop leaking. Once they realized the boat was hemorrhaging water, the boat plug needed to be implemented ASAP.

Tactic 4: Trigger Events

This is a great one if you can find it. The goal is to identify an event that incentives the customer to have to purchase in a given time frame. A friend of mine is an investor in a compliance software. One of the industries that they serve was recently federally mandated to meet certain standards by a certain date, or be fined $10k per day. Every company in that industry is trying to become compliant by that date. Wallets are certainly opening.

Another example of a trigger events are budgets. Some companies have “use it or lose it” policies with their budget. They have to spend the money in their budget in December (or the end of their fiscal year) or they’ll lose it for the next year. So some prospects are more willing to buy your software because they don’t want to lose the money they have in their budget.

Tactic 5: Expiring Offer

This is a good tactic as well. Once you’ve quantified pain, you tell the prospect that if they purchase by X day, they get Y. For example:

  • “It’s the end of the quarter on Friday. I have to hit my quota, and I got permission from my boss to offer you a 20% discount on your first year if you purchase by Friday.
  • “We have a price increase coming up next month. If you buy for a year now, I can lock you in at this price.
  • “We are running a special and offering implementation for free if you buy this month. It’s $500 normally. I can waive it for you if you purchase by X date.
  • “It’s been a slow month, and my VP of Sales gave us permission to offer a 10% discount on an annual contract for the first year to the first 5 prospects that take us up on this offer. I’ve spent a lot of time building a relationship with you, and I want to make sure you get this offer before prospects of our other sales reps get it.

Those are the five tactics to create a deadline to purchase your offering. Good luck! And get good at #3.

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