Your Sales Cycle Length
A sales cycle length is the amount of time it takes for your would-be customer to go from becoming a lead to becoming a customer. Without a reasonably accurate prediction of this lead time, you might not be able to estimate your income over time – which makes virtually all other facets of your business difficult to manage.
Predictability in business is always a good thing! Reducing sales cycle length increases revenue generation, which makes understanding how to calculate your sales cycle a very attractive part of creating and measuring your sales funnel.
The sales cycle is a combination of the “average lead to opportunity length” and the “average opportunity to close length”. The duration of each of these timelines will vary greatly between
businesses and industries.
Add to that, the AHT or average handling time – which is how much time a sales person needs to spend on phones calls, emails and meetings with a customer – and you can see that it’s not an easily measured period of time. A CRM or Customer Relationship Management system (software) will typically help you analyze your sales cycle.
All you need to do is define it. You might look at it as being the time from lead creation until the sale is made. The problem with this is that the process is not always linear – it may often be that after entering their email on your website, your customer goes through the buyer’s cycle multiple times before making a purchase.
When a lead becomes an opportunity – in other words, when it is moved from being handled by the marketing department to being handled by the sales department is a valid choice for determining the cycle because at this point there is far less chance of duplication in the CRM.
It’s still not ideal because it severs one part of the funnel from the other. However, it’s the closest we can come to a complete picture if we are to be personally involved in the process.
That’s why, for a truly informative look at your sales cycle, you absolutely need to make the investment in CRM software.
There are many well respected CRM tools available, including Pipedrive, HubSpot, Insightly and Teamgate. Hubspot has a free “lite” version of their CRM which comes highly recommended if you are new to relationship management software.
The Case for Sales Funnel Automation
The sales funnel is such an effective tool because it can be automated. Though it needs analysis and alteration to maximize its potential, it operates largely on autopilot, and it operates at a mere fraction of the cost of offline sales and marketing teams.
Sales funnels boil down to:
• Content pages for various stages of the buyer journey
• Squeeze pages that offer a lead magnet
• Landing pages that direct visitors to take a specific action
• An introductory offer – often a loss leader
• Your main offer
If your site doesn’t have at least one of each of these pages (per product or service) you are missing out on a complete funnel. The key is to direct your website visitor to take an action that leads them into a funnel that has a well thought out end result. One that benefits you.
Each aspect of your funnel should solve its own specific problem without the need for your intervention – unless one part of qualifying your leads is to involve yourself in a webinar or consultation. Modern websites are far easier to use than the old HTML ones that required coding know how and experience.
Now, content management systems such as WordPress allow users to upload all sorts of files for their subscribers to access, including checklists, audio files, videos, webinar
replays, buyer’s guides and resource lists. Membership plugins and/or email marketing software allow you to schedule courses for delivery.
There is almost no limitation to how you might deliver value to your leads without the necessity to be present when they are. Even at 4 am! Once your choice of value-laden content has been made, your sales funnel will very much depend on a good copywriter.
Be aware that these days a good copywriter will understand not just the compelling use of language, but what color schemes work on buy buttons and where they
should be placed. Other small details like the fact that an image beside a buy button works better than a buy button on its own set aside the average copywriter from the pro.
Autoresponders allow you connect with your leads through a series of targeted emails, each with a specific purpose and call to action. There’s only one part of your sales that you shouldn’t automate, and that’s customer service.
Aside from an automatic response to say you’ve received their email, every interaction from there on should be personally dealt with. Though it’s not considered a part of the traditional sales funnel – word of mouth is a powerful lead generation tool and shouldn’t be ignored.
Remember to check back soon for Issue 4 on this topic.