#WeBuildWednesdays Episode 61: Understanding Your Sales Cycle

Understanding the Consumer

What’s going on guys happy Wednesday! This is Mike here and Vince Norton from Norton Norris Inc.! We’re going to talk today about understanding your sales cycle, but before we do I want to wish everyone well in the quarantine. My fiance Callie drew this nice picture of Spongebob behind me to make sure that we all remember to have a cheerful time! 

We’re going to drop some knowledge on you today, so thank you for joining us! Before we get started, Vince, do you want to just tell us a little bit about yourself, your background, everything like that?!

 

Sales Background 

Yeah, we don’t want to go too far back, Mike, that will take too long! I started doing marketing almost 40 years ago, you know we’ve seen a lot of change over the years. But, it’s been really fascinating for me to look at the sales cycle, the customer journey, and to really try to understand how you romance your prospects and how you touch your inquiries at different stages of the cycle. I’ve been fascinated with that for years. A lot of people are about getting new inquiries and leads and I’m like, “yeah, what about all the ones we already have?” I’ve spent a lot of my life marketing and recruiting with prospective students at college and university but also dabbled a little bit in other customer acquisition strategies. 

Appreciate you having me on today, Mike!

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Introduction to the Sales Cycle 

Yeah, absolutely! Great intro and nice touch on the topic, too. I think just to dispel some rumors before we really get started — the sales cycle really refers to the journey of someone when you first talk to them to when you actually go through and close. I think very commonly people associate the entire process or buyer’s journey with one touchpoint. 

Maybe someone sees an ad, they click it, and voila! They fill out a form on your side, they come in, and they’re sold. Usually, it doesn’t work like that, there are many many touchpoints. There is potential for it to work like that if you’re ecommerce, but in most cases, especially service work, people are going to shop around. There’s going to be a variety of ways you are going to want to sway them along the way. 

 

Consider the Inquiry Source 

Consider the inquiry source and the level of intent. If somebody’s surfing around on Facebook and your head pops up, they weren’t actively looking for you. They may be interested, but not as interested because they don’t have intent yet. You have to nurture that individual for a longer period of time, understand the nature of your inquiries. Your organic web inquiries have deeper intent because they’ve been doing research. Remember, not all inquiries are created equal. 

Speaking from personal experience, we’ll have people call us that know us and sign that day. Then we have people that maybe just build a new website and don’t know what to do with it. They performed a search and we just popped up — that will be a much different kind of call. 

Yeah, when we were just getting started people told us that if we can stay in business for three years, we’ll be ok. Because it takes some people that long to call you back and be ready. 

I find it fascinating right now, we’re in this crisis and have clients and friends that own businesses and one of the first levers they want to pull to save money is advertising. But, be careful here. If you turn that faucet off it’s going to have an impact on you for quite a while. Whatever business you’re in, you should understand your maturation cycle, as I call it, or your sales cycle so that you know understand who you should be talking to and when you should be talking to them, and at a time like right now, understand what would happen if you pulled back on your accelerator and you decrease your number of inquiries coming in. 

You can get something similar to this in Google Analytics, it may not be as accurate but you can get a good idea for the first 30 days. 

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Messages You are Sending to Prospects

Let’s talk about the messages that you want to send to people at different stages here. Let’s go with an easy one, that person who inquired 120 days, 4/6 months ago — we send them a message. We’ll ask, “should we just close your file?” And often people will respond saying, “No, no, no, don’t close my file! I’m still interested!” At that point, they haven’t made a decision yet anyways so why not?! You really don’t have anything to lose. You don’t have to do a call-to-action every time you message somebody, why not just engage with them? For example, you can say, “I know that you’re interested, I thought I’d share a video with you,” you know, just little things to stay top of mind. 

I think that’s one of the mistakes people make in their messaging, then the other mistake I see a lot is though they’ll have this nice message and a call-to-action that says “learn more.” They’re already in your database, don’t demean their intelligence by saying, “learn more.” Give them a different call-to-action. Send them a free demo, or something like that! 

People are sold to all day, everywhere they go on the web they are being told, “click here,” or, “start today,” so make it a real human connection. It’s so much more valuable. I always think about social media, it’s meant to be a place for conversation, and so many people don’t use it for that. We’re turning into this world where actual human connections just aren’t valued anymore because they take time. We want everything to be automated and quick, and I think having real conversations can go a long way. 

I like the challenge of the rule that the person that inquired in April is going to make a buying decision in April or May. Maybe they’d like to plan ahead, maybe they’re doing research — so staying with those people because it’s their buying cycle, not yours! It takes them as long as it takes them. 

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Advice for Sales Representatives

For someone who maybe doesn’t understand their sales cycle, what’s a step they can take to move in the right direction? 

Take a look into your CRM, where you record that initial inquiry date. If you can look at your monthly sales, if you have groups of sales like us, our clients have a group of classes that start up. So, we run that list of students that start school, and we look at the number of days in between. It would be almost like aging your receivables. So anywhere that you can put events into buckets so that you can see how long it takes somebody to mature. So, play with that! And think about informing your messaging based on that, as well. 

I think it’s number one, you need to start by just having that analysis so you know where to act, and number two, you need to act on that after you do the analysis. 

Thank you so much for joining today, I really appreciate it! And, I’m sure everyone else does too. Spongebob’s whispering to me that you were a great guest. So, all in all, thank you very much! 

Enjoy the rest of your Wednesday! 

 

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