How Long Does Your Sales Cycle Take?

How long does it take to make the sale? With the pressure from the economy ever present, this is the question we should all be asking. Keeping your sales pipeline full of prospects depends on your understanding of the sales cycle and how long the development of the cycle is. The longer the cycle, the more prospects you need in it.

Our business is guilty of what I call “sales by necessity.” This simply means, when the pipeline gets thin, we go out and try to drum up business. I’m guilty of this just like you are. When times are good, we don’t do any of this, we simply let the work come in and we stay busy. When it slows down, we start calling past customers or start pitching potential new accounts.

This is confusing and annoying to the prospects at the same time. It’s no wonder the reception is lukewarm at best. This is sales driven by our needs, not the needs of the customer or client. I’ve been watching many different industries for several years now and the sales cycle question is common across all of them. The way it’s handled in each industry differs.

The Internet Marketing community has it together the best. They understand the real value of their business lies in the relationship to their list. The “list” can mean prospects, joint venture partners, endorsed mailings, past customers, and current customers. They have metrics in place to measure effectiveness and they can tell you exactly what it costs at each phase of the cycle. Very impressive compared to how we do it in this business.

I harp all the time about getting your customer list together and keep it updated. At the very least, regular contact via a physically mailed newsletter or even a regularly scheduled email will do wonders in reminding those you do business with that you’re still around and open for business. You don’t need to pitch anything, although having specials, sales, etc. doesn’t hurt either. It’s the common courtesy of keeping in touch instead of constantly going to them when you need work that makes them appreciate you more.

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