Aside from the absolute necessities of honesty and integrity, there are very few absolutes in sales.
Instead, there are questions. Lots of questions.
One of the most important questions for you is the following: Do you have the answers you need to improve your sales productivity?
There are no right or wrong answers to that question. Just answers that reflect the current state of your sales process.
For instance, how long does it take you to help a prospect move from their initial interest to an order? You estimate that your sales cycle is 3-6 months long. But, which is it? Three months? Or six? Why does it sometimes take three months versus six months? And, why isn’t your sales cycle two months long instead of three? Are you guessing or do you know?
Or, how long does it take you to follow up a sales lead? You estimate 4 hours. But, how long does it really take until the lead is in the hands of a sales rep who will follow up? How do you know that it doesn’t take 8 hours? Is the 4 hours a measured value or an estimate?
The fact is that the answers to these questions don’t really matter. In sales, the actual answer to the question “how long is your sales cycle” is irrelevant. The same with “how long does it take to follow up a sales lead.” The only things that matter are that you collect the sales data to accurately measure the duration of your sales processes today and that you are continually working to reduce the amount of time it takes to complete them.
This holds true for every part of your sales process. If a part of your process accelerates without you knowing why, then that means that it was just an accident. And, you certainly can’t plan to grow your sales based on happy accidents.
Therefore, you have to measure everything. Every step of your sales process that contributes to the amount of time it takes a prospect to move through their buyer’s journey from their initial point of interest in your product or service to giving you the order needs to be measured. And, it needs to be analyzed to learn how you can improve it in order to reduce the amount of time it takes your prospects to complete their buying process.
Every step of your sales process requires an investment of time. And, as you know, you have a unalterably limited inventory of time with which to work. However, the answer to shortening your sales cycle may not always be to increase your speed. The point is don’t guess. Measure your process and analyze the data.
Lastly, you need to understand which of your sales process metrics correlate to increased sales success. This is an aspect that managers often miss. You can’t look at metrics as a form of quota that needs to be achieved. ‘You need to make so many calls’ or ‘You need to have so many demos.’
For your metrics, or KPIs, to be meaningful they have to directly correlate to success in terms of orders. Identify those process metrics that correlate to your important measures of success. And, then work to improve them. Improve the process and improved outcomes will follow.