How to Shorten Your Sales Cycle: Identify This “Hidden Competitor”

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The Quest to Shorten The Sales Cycle

I’m constantly working on how to shorten my sales cycle.  You should be, too.  Here’s a lesson I learned many years ago that saved me from spending countless hours chasing sales opportunities that had a low probability of resulting in an order — at least in the short term.   I added an super-important step to my sales process.  Not only did it shorten my sales cycle, it also resulted in more sales because I was spending more time working on deals that had a higher probability of a successful close.  It is a step that I teach my customers to build into the conversion process of their Business Growth Engine™ to make sure it gets done.  Are you ready for it?

The Hidden Competitor

Nearly every sales opportunity has to compete with more than just the other competing offers made by your competitors.  It also is competing for time, attention, and political importance associated with other projects a given person, department, or company is working on at any given time.  It is these other projects that oftentimes result in an outright loss or in a “no decision.” So, it is critical to identify — as early as possible in the process — what looms out there AND if how likely that looming thing is to derail, sidetrack, or knock out your opportunity altogether.  So, how do you do that? Here are the steps:

How to Identify The Hidden Competitor

  • Identify ALL of the primary decision-makers (financial, technical, end-user, and budget holder)
  • Ask each decision-maker these questions:
    1. What other projects are you and/or your team working on right now?
    2. Where does THIS project rank in terms of importance to YOU —  compared to those other projects?
    3. Where does this project rank with the other people involved in this project?
    4. Do you have the bandwidth, resources, and budget you need to get all of these projects done?
    5. What do you think might cause this project to get usurped or postponed?

How to Use Zoho CRM to Enable and Enforce This Step

Like any process step, this only has value if it is actually done.  And, that’s where your Zoho CRM system comes in. One of the primary purposes for your CRM system is to enforce process — to ensure that what you want to be done, gets done by ALL members of your team.  There are a couple of ways you can accomplish this with your Zoho CRM system. However, I’m going to focus on the tools in your Zoho CRM toolbox that I’ve found to be most effective.

Use the Contact Roles Feature of the Deals Module – this feature helps you keep track of the various people that are involved in a given sales opportunity.   In nearly every sales situation — especially in a B2B sale — there are multiple players. This feature helps you to identify and keep track of them.

Create and Use a Zoho CRM Blueprint For Your Sales Process – this feature requires that you define a specific set of steps that all of your team members involved in the sales process all follow the same process.  And, it ensures that all of the steps in the process get done. In this case, your blueprint might require the deal owner to create and attach a “deal assessment” document or completing a deal assessment field containing answers to the questions above for each of the decision-makers.

Learn How to Use Zoho CRM

These are only a couple of the HUNDREDS of different ways you can use Zoho CRM to increase quality leads, turn more leads into closed business, grow your customer base, and increase repeat business and referrals.  To learn how to configure and use these tools, check out my Zoho CRM training and consulting services.

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Author: Michael Bitter

Michael Bitter is a small business sales and marketing process consultant, coach, and mentor with 30+ years of experience building — and teaching others how to build and use — CRM enabled sales and marketing systems to generate more and higher-quality leads, turn more leads into closed business, grow your customer base, and increase repeat business and referrals.

His passion — and the purpose behind is work — is teaching and helping small business owners how to build more successful businesses.   He does by teaching them how to implement and use Zoho CRM to enable a Business Growth Engine™ for their business and/or sales territories.