How to accelerate the sales cycle in your startup

By Dennis Clemente

How do you accelerate the sales cycle in your startup?

If you’re talking to Mark LaRosa, chief revenue officer of Funnel Fire, he is going to be epigrammatic about it. He will tell you the importance of slowing down to speed up. Essentially, you’re better off really knowing your customer instead of just “spraying and praying” for sales to happen.

He was speaking at the Sales Hacking Series last August 21 at Projective Space with two other guests, Doug Freeman, director of sales at The Muse and Jordan Christopher, VP of Sales at SiSense.

Knowing a customer is important, because “nobody cares about your product.” He cited instances where salespeople make the mistake of talking about the features of a product rather than how it makes “people’s lives better, easier, simpler and richer.”

“Prospects are five times more likely to talk to you if you know something about them and their business,” he added.

Another unusual approach from him: “Push for the No to get closer to the Yes. “A No is an opportunity to get closer to the Yes. The more you ask for the No the faster it is going to go down the pipe.”

How should your calls go? “During each call or interaction, set the landmines that will reverberate after you leave,” he said. His “landmine” is simply a call-to-action message: “If you have any question, feel free to call me.”

In his turn to talk, Freeman was more honed in on the process of sales—and how crucial it is to listen, diagnose and watch your salespeople perform. “Lead generation is important, even at the pre-sales level. Ask yourself where it is coming from.”

“Make sure your activity-to-meetings ratio is fundamental to your sales process. Make sure you’re asking the tough questions, so you can move forward,” he added.

When selling, Freeman could not stress this enough: “Whatever you do, act cool.” What if you’re desperate for a sale? “Have enough in your pipeline so you can act cool.”

To reach prospects, Freeman recommended Connect6 and Rapportive but he admitted to doing mostly email marketing.
Christopher, for his part, talked about he is fanatical about hitting the numbers. “We get 800 to 900 customers a year. We have not missed a quarterly.”

He pulled out some interesting industry data and insights:
• 24 percent of sales reps’ time are spent on research, prospecting
• About half of all reps didn’t make quota FY13
• 94 percent of qualified leads never close
• Average time it takes reps to start producing: 4.5 months
• Average sales: 30,000 bucks
• Long/complex POC aren’t efficient

This is sobering, which makes SEO and SEM, social marketing, blogging, and generating 3,000 inbounds leads per quarter, a must-do for him. “Consumers are smarter than ever,” he observed.
The meetup was hosted by Jake Dunlap, CEO of Skaled and Betts Recruiting.

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Dennis Clemente

Shuttling between New York and other US cities, Dennis writes about tech meetups when he's not too busy working as a Web Developer/Producer + UX Writer and Digital Marketer.

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