Drawn-Out Sales Cycles: What to Do When Selling Stalls

As budgets remain tight and layoffs loom, more care and consideration is put into every purchasing decision. This often leads to larger buying committees, more avenues for approval, and elongated buying cycles. 

Vendr, a SaaS buying platform, recently found that sales cycles for software have settled at about 46 days, a 40% increase since 2020. Those longer buying cycles can cascade throughout the economy, causing stress on sales teams and making revenue more difficult to forecast. 

“We are in a measured buying environment. There’s no doubt about it,” Salesforce president and COO Brian Millham said in a recent earnings call. “And the impact of that are things like elongated sales cycles and multiple layers of approvals.”

Many other companies, including Crowdstrike, Workday, and Twilio, also say they’re encountering longer sales cycles. 

“In today’s economy, software spend is being scrutinized more than ever — it’s no longer just a department lead making purchasing decisions,” Vendr co-founder and CEO Ryan Neu says. “CFOs and CEOs are getting involved, and they’re asking questions to ensure every purchase is mission-critical.”

While the adjustment to a longer selling process can be challenging, a proactive approach can help you secure more wins. Here are a few ways to make sure you’re prepared for every potential conversation.

Cross-Functional Alignment

Your go-to-market strategy depends on alignment. But it’s still frustratingly common for marketers and salespeople to have different goals, operate in silos, create inconsistent messaging, and draw conclusions from disparate data. 

Every disconnect creates operational gaps that can cause leads to slip through the cracks. We’ve put together some ways to drive better alignment between sales and marketing, including ways to deduce if your teams are misaligned in the first place. 

Engage Instantly

There’s a 10X decrease in your chances to connect with a lead if you don’t prioritize connecting in the first few minutes. At ZoomInfo, we want sales teams to reach out to prospects who visit our website in less than 90 seconds. This instant engagement doesn’t happen without a structured, systematic approach to scoring and routing leads — and building a culture that helps every salesperson improve through proper training and two-way communication. 

Your internal structure should enable this type of instant outreach. Make super efficient lead follow-up crucial to your culture, and make sure you have the volume of reps necessary to respond to incoming leads. Starting the sales process off briskly is one of the best ways to speed along the entire cycle. 

Automate When Possible

Getting rid of the monotonous, often manual tasks in your sales process can help speed things along. The good news is that nearly every step of the sales process can be automated in some way. 

We’ve just released our GTM playbook of modern, automated plays that you can run to speed up actions at every part of the funnel. Not only can you capture more leads instantly, but you can also track external moves, website visits, and intent signals all with a simple click.

Target All the Decision Makers Up Front

There are typically six to 10 decision makers in a buying committee. Involving those people up front in your process can help shorten the sales cycle, and a multi-threaded sales approach is the best approach. Multi-threading involves creating relationships with as many stakeholders as possible, which leads to more access to more individuals with different responsibilities. Then, if one line goes cold, you have several other opportunities to continue the conversation. 

Also, the vital conversations that you’re used to having along the way can be grouped together, or scheduled back-to-back, so that you’re not chasing down each decision maker.

Simplify, Simplify, Simplify

“The process of buying software today can be longer and more complicated than buying a home, and this simply doesn’t make sense,” Neu says. 

Sometimes, protocol is the roadblock, but having to follow excessive steps in a complex sales motion also gives your buyer more opportunities to back out. 

“As budgets are increasingly put under a microscope, removing friction from sales becomes more important than ever,” Neu says. “Together, buyers and sellers spend countless hours on negotiation and redlining contracts, and these pain points become major deterrents when it comes to final purchasing decisions.”

Simplifying the purchasing process will give your prospective buyer reassurance that their needs are important. Remove as much back-and-forth as possible, come prepared to every conversation, and don’t overwhelm them. 

Neu says Vendr is building toward a world where SaaS sales are speedy, simple, and transparent, because it’s what customers will expect in the future. 

“My big bet is that 10 years from now, SaaS will not be negotiable, and instead, you’ll be able to buy SaaS with the click of a button,” he says. “When you remove friction from sales, the result is winning outcomes for both sides.”

Come Prepared 

This is true in any sales environment, but showing up to a demo without investigating the company you’re talking to is self-sabotage. Make sure you’re doing your due diligence: research your prospect’s business model, problems and needs. Know what tech they have on hand and any competing conversations they may be having. And above all, know how your product or service can make their jobs easier. 

Thorough research, using Intent signals and Scoops, coupled with asking the right questions in discovery, can be the difference between making a sale and losing a prospect. 

Don’t Get Cute 

Neu sums it up simply: urgency is important in times of turmoil. If your buyers are taking their sweet time, you should be doing the exact opposite. 

“Sellers have heard it before: time kills all deals,” Neu says. “In slower sales cycles, reps should focus on keeping things simple — remove variables and all friction, do work for the buyer before they ask for it, don’t play games, make it as easy as possible for buyers to purchase … said another way, don’t get cute.”

That doesn't leave much time for dilly-dallying.

Westley’s right. There’s no time for dilly-dallying. 

If you’re looking to close deals faster, ZoomInfo can help. Our recent customer survey revealed that account executives who use ZoomInfo were able to reduce deal cycles by nearly 40% and increase win rates by more than 45%. If you’re ready to explore more, get a free trial today.