It ain’t easy out there for B2B SaaS sellers.
Quotas are too high, sales processes are frustrating, demos are buggy and unreliable, prospects are hard to pin down, and the product roadmap seems to include everything except the exact needs the customers are asking for. Plus, did we mention how high these quotas are?
In all that noise, it can be hard to know what to focus on to improve your sales cycle, boost your sales velocity, and grow your bottom line.
So, that’s what we’ll try to help you with in this article. We’ll break down some of our best advice for how to make things better for sales teams like yours.
- What is a B2B sales cycle?
- What is the average B2B sales cycle length?
- The B2B sales cycle stages
- Qualifying leads
- Presenting the demo
- Address objections
- Closing the sale
- How to calculate the length of a B2B sales cycle
- Best practices for optimizing your B2B sales cycle
- Show the product early on
- Multithread your deals
- Dive into your buyers’ intent
- Personalize the buying experience
- Minimize needless back and forth
- Simplify the logistics
- The value of efficient sales cycles on SaaS businesses
What is a B2B sales cycle?
A B2B sales cycle is the process and span in which a business sells its product or service to another business. It refers to the cycle the prospects go through as they move through your sales funnel to become paying customers.
The B2B sales cycle consists of multiple steps, generally starting from the moment prospects connect with the sales team and view a product demo until the deal is closed won and the new customer signs the contract.
Each business defines its B2B sales cycle a little differently. They do this so it can be tweaked and modified to help focus a business’s sale strategy and keep their sales team on target to sell a product or service to another organization.
What is the average B2B sales cycle length?
We hope you’re sitting down because these numbers are ridiculous.
The average sales cycle often lasts around 2-3 months. This means that from the moment a prospect enters the sales process, it’ll take them around 60-90 days until they can purchase the software and move on with their lives.
For enterprise sales, this can be much longer, with deals taking around 6-9 months to close. This can be a result of having more decision-makers who need to sign off on the deal and more complex legal red tape to navigate.
Other factors that can affect the sales cycle length include the type of product or service being sold, the industry in which the company operates, and the complexity of the sale.
Now, the real question that you’re probably asking yourself is: Who has time for this?
Compared to the average B2C buying cycle, which can be done and dusted in a matter of seconds, B2B sales cycles are preposterously long. The main reason for this is that businesses are different — they are usually not making an impulse buy like we often do when scrolling through Amazon at 2 am. (Just me?) Instead, decision-makers in a business need to substantiate their buying decisions internally and therefore expect you as a provider to show why your offering is the best.
The B2B sales cycle stages
The sales cycle stages are often different for different businesses. For example, some companies, like Walnut, believe in showing prospects the product from the outset of the sales cycle (in your prospecting) and focus on the needs of the prospects to make the process as simple as possible.
However, in most sales departments, the sales cycle can be broken down into these 6 stages:
At this stage of outbound sales, the sales team (usually SDRs or BDRs) will do some research to find potential customers. They will come up with a list of individuals who match their ideal buyer personas and who can benefit from using their product.
Once they find these prospective buyers, they’ll reach out to them to interest them enough in the product to book a meeting. They can do this through a short cold email, a cold call, or via social media. This part is extremely tricky as they’ll need to stand out from all the other sales outreach they’re already fielding daily. That’s why it is crucial to make sure the outreach is personalized and relevant and shows your product’s value very clearly.
2. Qualifying leads
Once a lead responds to your outreach, the next thing the sales team needs to do is qualify them to make sure they need your product and the ability to purchase it. This is often done through a discovery call.
One of the most common qualifying methods is BANT, which stands for Budget, Authority, Need, and Time – the four main requirements buyers need to have to make a purchase.
3. Presenting the demo
The next step in the sale cycle is presenting the demo.
The goal of this stage is to show your prospects your product and the value they can gain from utilizing it. That’s why it’s beneficial to use a sales demo software that can quickly be customized and personalized for each prospect’s needs, industry, and use case.
This way prospects won’t be stuck watching a demo that doesn’t feel relevant or interesting.
4. Address objections
Once the prospect understands the product’s value proposition, they may have some objections.
Objection handling is a crucial part of the process, where the sales team needs to make sure the prospect truly understands the value of the product, why it is worth the price, how it can solve their pains, why they can trust the brand, and why they need to close the deal now.
5. Closing the sale
Now it’s time to be assertive and handle any legal issues or last-minute customer concerns to push the deal across the finish line.
Sales teams need to make this process as easy and seamless for their prospects to get the deal done!
How to calculate the length of a B2B sales cycle
It can be tricky to get an exact length of your average sales cycle, but knowing everything we already discussed, we can help you get pretty close.
Consider all these stages of the sales cycle and start tracking exactly how long your prospects are spending within each stage. Then analyze the length of time it takes from the prospecting stage until the deal is closed.
Add up all your data, divide it by the number of prospects you tracked, and voila – that’s your average sales cycle length.
Best practices for optimizing your B2B sales cycle
At this point, you’re probably asking yourself: why is this sales cycle so long and how can we shorten it?
Well, that’s what we want for you as well.
By optimizing your sales cycle, your sales team can boost their sales velocity and finally make your CRO or VP of sales happy. (Just kidding, it’s impossible to make them happy.)
Here are 6 ways to optimize your sales cycle:
1. Show the product early on
Buyers don’t want to wait until the third call to get a chance to see your product for themselves. Plus, there’s no better qualifier than a prospect clicking through your product and actively choosing to want to see more.
Embed an interactive product walkthrough on your website and include short demo snippets in your outbound emails. This way, your prospects start your buying journey with a basic understanding of what your product does and how it can help them.
2. Multithread your deals
The more people you speak to within the organization, the quicker you’ll get to the real decision maker and the quicker the value of your product will take hold within the prospects’ team.
Plus, the more people you speak to from the prospects’ side early on, the better you’ll understand their needs, any potential roadblocks, and how to navigate the deal to the finish line.
To improve your multithreading, share a link to your guided product demo with your champion and encourage them to forward it to all the relevant stakeholders.
3. Dive into your buyers’ intent
Understanding buyers is not for the faint of heart. Who can know what really goes on in those confusing, tired minds?
Well, we can help. If you’re using interactive demo software like Walnut, you can track how your prospects click through your demos, from the product tour on your website to the demo snippets they received from your early sales emails. You can track who they shared your guided demo with on their team and which features they most engaged with.
All of this helps you paint a picture of who they really are and what they really want. And once you know that, give them what they want, what they really really want.
4. Personalize the buying experience
Which brings us to this crucial tip: make the buying decision as simple as possible for your prospect by presenting your product for their specific needs. Stop wasting time demoing features they don’t need just to show off all the cool stuff your product can do. Stop talking to them about stuff that doesn’t relate to their needs and their pains. Because all you’re doing is wasting both your time and theirs.
Instead build a demo library of templates that are designed for specific industries, use cases, or whatever else makes sense for your customer audience. This way you can easily pull out a relevant template and quickly further personalize it for each prospect’s needs.
The result? Less bored prospects and more demos prospects actually want to see.
5. Minimize needless back and forth
Just like many meetings could be emails, many emails could be DMs or 5-second phone calls.
Optimizing the way you communicate with your prospects can significantly shorten the length of your sales cycle. People can take days to respond to emails, even if the answer is really short and simple. By picking up the phone and calling them, you can minimize that unnecessary time spent waiting.
Likewise, if you’re using a sales demo platform like Walnut, prospects and reps can communicate directly on the demo itself. They can add a comment, tag you, and you can respond immediately. Likewise, you will get notified every time they open your demo or click through, so you can even preemptively reach out to them while they’re browsing your demo and answer any questions they may have.
6. Simplify the logistics
At the end of the day, the less work your prospect has to do to complete the deal, the easier things are for everyone.
If you need to work closely with legal on a lot of deals, make sure you have a good relationship with the relevant parties and have open communication. Ask them how they prefer to handle any issues that come up so you can move through them swiftly and efficiently.
Same goes for your prospect. Provide them with all the assistance they need to minimize the logistics that they’ll have to do to complete the deal – whether it’s sending them easy-to-sign-and-return PDFs, easy-to-understand terms and agreements, or walking them through the exact steps they’ll need to take to move the deal forward.
The value of efficient sales cycles on SaaS businesses
Time is money.
The shorter your sales process, the lower your customer acquisition cost (CAC) will be. The lower your CAC, the higher your sales efficiency will be. The higher your sales efficiency, the more your sales team will produce. The more your sales team produces, the better your business runs.
Besides, a shorter sales process is better for the buyer as well.
So, here’s what you need to do now. Get started with Walnut and see how we can help your team simplify your sales cycle.