Smart Selling

3 Software Tools That Can Speed Up Your Sales Cycle

If you asked any modern business how it would want to improve, there’s no doubt the sales cycle would come up. This cycle represents the critical stages of bringing on new customers, the art of moving a lead to a sale. When it moves slowly, so does business growth.

According to Implisit, the average B2B sales cycle is 102 days, with 84 of those days allocated for the lead-to-opportunity process, and 18 days for the average opportunity to close.

To shrink those numbers and create a company that is above average in sales cycle speed, you should look to the latest technology designed to automate and streamline workflows. By vastly cutting down and eliminating redundant sales labor, a business can spend a higher proportion of its cycle on closing deals and reduce the timeline overall.

Solutions like Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Configure, Price, Quote (CPQ), and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software are designed specifically to target areas of the sales process that can be tightened up and make a company more dynamic and efficient.

Let’s take a closer look.

CRM Software

Almost anyone on a sales team will tell you that business comes down to relationships. Being a successful company today means keeping track of countless interactions with prospects and leads — all of whom could be in different stages of the sales cycle. For that reason, it’s critical to enlist some technological help, and CRM software is the most obvious choice for a sales team.

Forbes found that 53 percent of top-performing companies are investing in CRM sales to drive sales productivity.

The right CRM can speed up the sales cycle in several key ways: it can capture data that will tell sales where a lead currently sits in the pipeline, how reluctant that lead is to move forward, and what sales techniques have been successful in the past. CRM software can also store information on customer buying habits, the original channel that captured each lead, and notes about previous interactions, all of which help your sales team run effective sales development plays.

CPQ Software

It’s difficult to overstate the importance of acting fast when a sales opportunity presents itself. The longer a prospect lingers in the pipeline, the more time and resources your sales staff are investing in them, and the higher the risk of them choosing a competitor.

CPQ software can provide instantaneous pricing and quoting, allowing sales staff to provide a specific proposal at a moment’s notice. Since a quote provides vital information at a critical moment in the decision-making process, it can often make the difference between a sale and a lost opportunity.

In 2015, IDC found that almost 57 percent of B2B prospects and customers feel their sales teams are not prepared for the first meeting. Having a tool at the ready that lets you quickly pull a quote and deliver it to the customer will help your reps seem more competent and win buyers’ trust faster, effectively speeding up the sales cycle.

ERP Software

ERP software is designed to integrate all of a business’s operational functions into one streamlined system that processes information across departments. That means the sales process is connected to quoting and invoicing, which are connected to fulfillment and order management, and so forth.

By integrating all of these functions into one, seamless system, you can turn leads into happy customers faster and improve visibility between the various teams involved in driving new business. ERP software can provide vital information on the status of leads as they move through the sales cycle and how each arm of your business contributes. You can use these insights to identify bottlenecks and make the necessary improvements to personnel or processes.

Just keep in mind, while ERP does have a broader feature set, it’s not always an end-to-end solution. Many businesses implement ERP as a complement to other systems that help sales, including CRM and CPQ. By fully embracing this suite, businesses can shorten their sales cycle through more efficient processes and gain an upper-hand on the competition.

Peter Chawaga is a contributor for TechnologyAdvice.com, with years of experience as a reporter and editor for publications around the country. He’s covered arts and culture in Philadelphia, business and development in Greensboro, and healthcare and technology in Nashville.

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