Most sales cycles are too complicated to understand.
You never know when you’ll be introduced to a new prospect, and even more importantly, when they’ll actually close and become a customer.
As a sales rep, it’s your job to stay on top of things as much as you possibly can. Understanding, and even predicting, your prospect’s next action is essential to long-term success.
So, what are some of the best ways to predict the outcome of your sales cycle and to know whether or not it is set up for success?
Get into the mind of your customers
Life would be so much easier if you could just read your prospects’ minds, right?
Well, predicting behavior may be simpler than you think.
Mastering the industry you’re doing business in is a great place to start. Understanding the industry provides you with context and will allow you to make predictions that customers can rely on, allowing you to have an competitive edge.
You should also lean on your CRM.
Customer relationship management systems are there for a reason — to provide you with everything you need to know about your customers.
From something generic like deal size, to any minor comments your prospects might have made on a call, your CRM is one of the best tools you can leverage to help you predict the outcome of a sales cycle because it is full of actual data.
Provide therapist-grade listening skills throughout the sales cycle
We all know we’re supposed to listen carefully to other people. But you may be shocked by the degree to which talk-to-listen ratios can affect the success of a call, and even the overall sales cycle.
Listening more on your sales call allows you to tune into exactly what your prospect is looking for, and have a better idea of how their sale will pace in the sales cycle.
Science even illustrates that top performers speak significantly less on calls than their average-performing peers.
So, next time you think you have something interesting to say, consider keeping your mouth shut and reap the rewards.
Avoid gut feelings
For many sales people, sales cycles are based on “systems” comprised of a variety of perceptions.
Basing your sales cycle predictions solely on intuition, gut-feelings, or unfounded perceptions is unlikely to bring in the sales your team needs. This will result in your sales cycle relying more on speculations instead of using data and analysis systematically.
Ultimately, the predictions that you use need to be based on accuracy and reliability.
Better pricing discussion = more predictability
No matter how seasoned you are, you probably don’t love talking about pricing.
But, the better you understand how your prospect feels about pricing, the easier it is to predict the outcome of your sales cycle.
So, what is the best way to bring pricing up?
Reps with the fastest win rates raise pricing-related topics three or four times on a sales call.
In terms of timing, data shows there actually is a right time to mention pricing. And it’s much later than you’d probably guess.
It’s three quarters of the way into a sales call.
While top performers and average performers both mention pricing at the 13-20 minute mark, top reps hold their main pricing discussion off until the end.
By then, they’ve had a chance to impress the prospect with the product, making pricing less of an issue.
At the end of the day, your prospect will always be temperamental. But with the right tools and approaches, human behavior can actually be analyzed and statistically predicted — and your sales cycle can be better forecasted.
Chris Orlob is Senior Director of Product Marketing at Gong.io. - the #1 conversation intelligence platform for B2B sales teams. Gong helps you convert more of your pipeline into revenue by shining the light on your sales conversations. It records, transcribes, and analyzes every sales call so you can drive sales effectiveness, figure out what’s working and what’s not, and ramp new hires faster.