Optimizing Lead-To-Win

Jesse Hopps

Shrinking the Sales Cycle and Focusing Closers on Sealing More Deals

As sales organizations endeavor to escape the constricted economy of the 2009 recession, one of their most significant barriers is stagnant progress regarding bringing their sales cycle under control. Recent Aberdeen research published for Inside Sales Enablement: “Let Them Drink Coffee!” (December, 2009) reveals that not only did under-performing companies see a year-over-year increase in their sales cycle of 12%, but even the top performers experienced a slight (1%) lengthening of their own lead-to-win timeframe.

As top-performing selling teams continue searching for ways to reduce their sales cycles and increase their win/loss “batting average,” the use of selected business processes and enabling technologies such as configure/price/quote (CPQ), contract management, sales playbooks and electronic signature capture tools hold significant promise for better sales team performance in 2010. The failure to keep up with the Best-in-Class, on the other hand, promises to link other performers more solidly to the difficult selling environment of the recent economic recession, and restrict their ability to successfully close deals at the bottom of the customer acquisition funnel.

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When asked to reflect on their own strengths and weaknesses on a scale of 1 to 5, top-performing companies were predictably more bullish on some of the softer accomplishments that are less measurable than the key performance indicators (KPIs) used in this research to more formally identify the top, middle and bottom performers. A clear link can be established between the shorter sales cycles, higher proposal volume and better win/loss rates of the Best-in-Class, and the more nuanced elements of selling represented by their self-reported abilities as seen in Figure 3 below.

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