Why Does the Sales Process Take So Long?

And How Do You Make It Shorter?

Everyone, from salespeople to sales managers and business executives, has the same wish when it comes to sales—to make the process faster. There is no one answer that everyone agrees with on exactly why it takes so long, which makes providing a solution that’ll shorten the cycle for all situations quite a challenge. It also means that most folks involved in sales don’t try to figure out a solution, either. Instead, they just shrug it off, accepting that the length of the sales process is what it is and can’t be changed.

There’s as many theories for exactly why the sales process takes so long as there are salespeople who deal with it. These include:

  • People take a long time to make a decision
  • There are lots competing interests for the budget involved
  • There are many people involved in making the decision, meaning a lot of selling to a number of different Buyers before actually completing a sale
  • There are numerous competitors, which Buyers usually want to check out before making a decision

These are all probably true to some extent, but they don’t provide the whole picture.  They’re also not painting the issue in a light that makes it possible to find a solution. Instead, these become excuses that let salespeople stick to their routines without looker for a better way.

Why does the sales process (1)

If you view the reasons for the lengthy sales process through the lens of Lean Thinking, however, you have a different view of possible reasons why the sales process takes so long:

  • The Buyer doesn’t know how to make a decision
  • The sales process started too soon
  • The Buyer didn’t actually know what they needed
  • The Seller didn’t actually know what the Buyer needed
  • Significant time was wasted waiting for things to move forward

When you view a lengthy sales process with an eye toward cause and effect, suddenly you start seeing solutions to the problem of where the time actually goes. If you aren’t looking at the real root cause for why your sales process in particular is taking a long time, then you won’t be able to find a solution to speed it up.

Ask your sales team how many of these Lean Thinking potential causes noted above might be applicable to your lengthy sales process. Encourage them to provide reasons for the long sales process that identify the causes in an actionable way, not a passive way.

Once you do that, you can start talking about how you can empower your salespeople to take control over the sales cycle. And make it shorter.

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