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Sales Cycle Management: Two Expert Strategies to Shorten Your Sales Cycle
When tasked to scale a team from 0 to 10 reps in a matter of months, with no historical success— we needed a surefire way to maximize “at bats” and maintain cycle velocity with solid sales cycle management.
What is Sales Cycle Management?
Sales cycle management is keeping track of what happens during all of the sales life cycle stages, and adjusting to the buyer based on their behaviors during those key phases.
The sales cycle stages can vary greatly depending on mid-market vs enterprise, but they all stem from the process outlined below:
- Research-Discovery-Demo (RDD): A high-level demonstration with a conversation on the prospects role, business, and key initiatives.
- Custom Demo or POV: A deeper dive and working session to multiple stakeholders–establishes use cases and overall business impact from a practitioner and business leader’s perspective.
- Technical Win: The stage where we have established a technical fit within their marketing and sales ecosystem. The organization knows where we fit in and how we differentiate.
- Organizational Buy-In: Key stakeholders understand the impact for their business and the decision process, economic buyer, and champion are aligned on how our solution benefits their org.
- Contract Negotiation: All stakeholders involved understand the value and have an order form in hand–payment terms and price are negotiated at this point, if necessary.
- Closed-Won: =]
MEDDIC has traditionally been applied to Enterprise selling motions and acts to qualify complex B2B sales opportunities. Whether you’re selling high-volume/reduced ACV deals or whale sized enterprise deals, you can leverage MEDDIC and Challenger Sales Methodology in your sales cycle management to proactively understand risk, leave your audience with actionable takeaways, and retain desirable sales cycle length.
Image Credit: Daniel Nilsson
- Metrics: How are your prospects measured…and what is the economic impact of your solution when mapped to their metrics?
- Economic Buyer(s): Who has the authority to sign off on a purchase?
- Decision Criteria: What does your solution or a similar offering need to have (features) and need to accomplish (value) to influence a purchasing decision?
- Decision Process: Functionally, who and how does a purchase happen in your prospect’s organization?
- Identification of Pain(s): Where does it hurt (emotional, rational, and economic) and is it linked to compelling events?
- Champion(s): Have you created a raging fan internally who can help influence and drive a win for both organizations?
If you’re able to understand your buyer’s unique situation and recognize MEDDIC during your initial discovery conversation—the likelihood of a streamlined sales opportunity dramatically skyrockets.
As Jacco vanderKooij critically highlights, please refrain from “selling” your solution before truly understanding how you and your solution helps your buyer:
“Prescription before diagnosis is malpractice.”
Your discovery calls should serve as active learning sessions for your prospects. With a mutual upfront contract, you and your buyer can both agree that the discussion will be mutually beneficial—so your conversation is relevant, tailored, and move to next steps if both parties agree there is a fit.
Applying Sales Cycle Management Principles
Ask about their role… it’s okay to make concrete assumptions at this point, it allows you to ask specific questions about their sales metrics.
A few examples for Metrics: As the VP of Sales, I understand it’s top of mind for you and your reps to hit and exceed quota. What are some of the key-initiatives you have in mind to drive higher attainment from your new hires?
Selling to an SDR Leader? They are typically measured by the following metrics:
- Sales Qualified Opportunities
- Meetings Booked/Occurred
- Percentage of Closed-Won Opportunities
Most often, it’s a mixture of all the above. You can dive into what conversion rates and concrete metrics they are looking to improve, and how your solution can help move the needle.
Economic Buyers & Your Champion: Identify who you are speaking with and what you need to do to gain ground with an Economic Buyer. Most decisions in today’s selling world require agreement from multiple stakeholders, even in the smallest of organizations.
It is vital you establish an internal champion who can assist in creating ground-swell to the decision makers. A champion can prove to be as helpful as a team member when it comes to sales cycle management. If you’re lucky, your Champion can also be your Economic Buyer!
Decision Criteria: This is ever elusive and is certainly the most difficult to extrapolate. You need to ask great questions to uncover the need-to-haves from the nice-to-haves. It is incredibly important to understand the “Why” behind some of their answers, as it gives clarity to both parties on what is a deal-breaker and what can be made as a concession.
Decision Process & Identification of Pain: Every sales org. should take enablement and coaching seriously—one of the first steps is to identify what questions to ask without it becoming an interrogation. Don’t forget, there are no excuses for a rep who doesn’t self-enable.
- Who else needs to see the solution to make an informed decision?
- How have you purchased a similar tool/solution/platform in the past?
- What does your process look like today and what feedback have you heard from your team?
- What are you currently doing to improve it?
The Challenger Methodology
Even without a full rollout of CEB’s Challenger program, you can leverage the fundamental takeaways from its methodology. When you weave in MEDDIC with Challenger, it becomes an immensely powerful process.
- Teach your buyers something new and actionable – Let them walk away with more than an understanding of your product. They should be able to understand how you differentiate amongst your competition. Show them how your solution can improve their “world of tomorrow”. Make them champions!
- Tailor your conversations and demos to be relevant—I promise that your pre-call research will help you have better sales conversations. Remember the metrics you learned? This is a great time to share how your solution can positively shape those very metrics with a solution like yours. Important business metrics apply to many personas in the same organization. Being relevant throughout your sales cycle management assures consensus among them.
- Take control of the conversations – Especially if they veer off goal. It is your job to directly communicate insightful knowledge without coming off overly aggressive and off putting. Remind your buyer of their decision criteria and reinforce what they shared with you during your last conversation.
- Influence: Understand and influence your prospects decision criteria so they walk away with something learned and immediately actionable.
- Stay Ahead of the Curve: Be proactive in the ways your deal can go sour. Identify risk factors before they happen. Learn how your buyer is measured. Examine how their org. makes decisions. Anticipate roadblocks before they happen.
- Be Relevant: Research and become an expert in your prospect’s company and role. Nothing is worse than a rep not knowing his or her audience.
- One Team, One Goal: Behind every star player, there is an amazing team. Be vocal on your internal asks and leverage every single member of your org. to win.