How to Measure and Improve B2B Sales Cycles

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Meredith BensonCommunity Outreach Manager for Blue Horseshoe

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

The B2B sales cycle involves a strategic list of steps for companies to consistently close deals. The length of the process depends on the company, product, or service. However, the best businesses separate themselves from the competition by maximizing each B2B sales process phase.

Article 8 Minutes
How to Measure and Improve B2B Sales Cycles

A handful of metrics allow your sales leadership team to identify the specific areas of improvement. These key performance indicators provide insights on process gaps, sales team member performance, and other details to help your team close more sales. Below, we detail the most critical metrics and strategies you can implement to elevate your business success.

5 metrics to elevate your B2B sales cycles

Data allows businesses and individuals to make educated decisions about the sales process. If your team is not utilizing the B2B sales cycle metrics mentioned below, you could be missing out on critical revenue.

Lead to opportunity ratio

The lead to opportunity ratio represents a percentage of total sales opportunities for your business. It allows you to understand how much of these opportunities were generated by your business. The lead to opportunity ratio is a data-driven phenomenon. In short - the more leads you create, the more profitable opportunities the company will receive.

The lead to opportunity ratio is something your team can fully control. You can improve the B2B sales processes through this metric by identifying the weaknesses in your lead qualification and generation process. When you strategize with your team, you must assess if your lead generation initiatives match your customer’s motivations.

This B2B sales KPI will help you identify which sources produce quality prospects and leads. If Facebook advertising generates more high-converting leads than LinkedIn marketing, you may want to redirect your budget, time, and focus to the Facebook platform.

Lead response time

Lead response time is measured by the period between a customer’s initial inquiry and the salesperson’s response. The metric typically gauges the time between the first interaction, but you can examine lead response time at any point in the sales cycle.

For companies that have a heavy inbound sales strategy, lead response time is critical. Based on a Harvard study of 2,241 companies, the average lead response time was 42 hours. The companies that responded to a customer within 60 minutes were seven times more successful in having a meaningful discussion with the decision-maker.

These statistics show how vital it is for your team to position itself before the prospect as soon as they discover your company.

Sales cycle length

The sales cycle length is a straightforward metric that measures the time between the initial interaction and the deal’s closing. “Closing the deal” could mean either a win or a loss. This B2B sales metric allows companies to evaluate the overall effectiveness of their B2B sales cycles. The shorter the length of the sales cycle, the better.

The sales cycle length metric can also kickstart your sales cycle. It allows you to scan for old or idle leads. If the potential deal is trending behind your company’s average period, you can delegate a team member to conduct a follow-up. This touchpoint could involve offering discounts, free trials, or other product or service demonstrations.

Sales cycle length also enables sales leadership to evaluate individual performance. If a sales representative has a cycle shorter than the company’s average, they are doing an excellent job. You can research what practices work for that team member and share them with the rest of the team.

This metric will also assist you in identifying any struggling sales representatives. You can dedicate further training or coaching to help boost their performance. Sales cycle length involves how well your team utilizes the CRM, so you could also establish training programs around this software.

Opportunity to win ratio

The opportunity to win ratio analyzes how many of the qualified leads were converted into customers for the company. These metrics enable you to see how well your sales managers and reps close accounts. If their ratio is high, they’re skilled at negotiating and rounding out the B2B sales cycle with a win.

This B2B sales KPI also provides insights on your sales cycle effectiveness. If the ratio is lower than the benchmark, then you can check for process weaknesses. You can also deploy resources to help you close more deals. Here are some quick tips on how to improve your opportunity to win ratio:

  • Supply your sales representatives with visual aids, presentation decks, and samples to aid communication with leads
  • Be on the same page with your team members on discounts, promotions, and other deals that prospects can take advantage of
  • Equip the sales team with reference materials that allow them to better handle objections

These actions allow you to optimize the different components of the sales cycle. Therefore, it’s vital to make sure your employees feel supported in these areas.

Loss rate by sales stage

The loss rate by sales stage examines the percentage of lost deals at each checkpoint in the sales cycle. This metric pinpoints the specific weaknesses at each stage of your B2B sales cycle. When you total the number of deals lost at each junction, you can effectively analyze the bottlenecks. You can then assess which issue is because of your employees and which problem is because of your B2B sales process.

If you notice that a large percentage of the lost sales occur at the negotiation step, this could mean your team members need more training. It could also indicate that this phase of the sales pipeline needs to be adjusted. You could offer more promotions or discounts if your customers make a purchase.

How to close more sales with your B2B sales cycle

Your B2B sales strategy revolves around guiding your prospects toward a well-informed decision. If you’re confident in your product or service, that decision should ultimately mean more sales for your company. Below are several strategic actions your team can implement to improve the B2B sales cycle and drive more revenue.

Separate yourself from the competition

The critical factor in B2B sales success is knowing how to elevate yourself above the competition. Your competitors are constantly innovating, so you need to know where you stand. When you find a unique aspect of your product or service, you should also act quickly.

When you meet with prospects, be strategic about how you compare yourself to others. Bring reference materials about how your solution stacks up against the competitors from a function, price, or benefit standpoint. Here are some actionable tips on how to separate yourself from the competition throughout the B2B sales process:

  • Understand your unique value proposition
  • Use examples and data throughout the sales process
  • Always have a sample for the customer to try out
  • Always have an objective and goal for every sales call.

Utilize social media to your advantage

Social media is an effective tool for researching your prospects, customers, and competition. We have more public information available to us than ever before due to social media networks and the internet.

With over 774 million users, LinkedIn is one of the most popular places for key external stakeholders to spend time. It has risen into a go-to hub for professionals within many industries. You can also learn from thought leaders in your niche and study best practices for your sales process.

LinkedIn also enables you to find out who the key decision-makers are at each company. You can also learn more about each person, equipping you with the necessary tools for prospecting meetings.

Build more research into your cold calling strategy

We live in a technological, data-driven world. Data helps the B2B sales process because you can understand and better predict how likely a person or business will respond to you positively. Instead of mindlessly cold calling, research your prospects first. It will make it much easier to foster a relationship and determine if your solution will fit the customer’s needs.

Many businesses and decision-makers do not have time for cold calls. You can save both parties a lot of time by investing your energy into researching if the prospect has a realistic need for your product. Not only will it facilitate the B2B sales process, but it will also increase your lead conversion rates.

Get straight to the point

Ideally, the B2B sales cycle has minimal steps. Your prospects don’t have the attention or time to hear fluffy sales pitches. They’re more focused on how you’ll solve their business’s problem, make their life easier, or produce more business for them.

Respect your prospect’s time by outlining a solid elevator pitch that is less than a minute long. If your solution is effective, you should be able to explain it in this amount of time.

Final wrap up

Your B2B sales process and strategy are the engines behind your company’s growth. Maximizing each step of the process is critical in producing more revenue, separating yourself from the competition, and building talent at your company.

Studying the B2B sales metrics will give you vital insights on where to improve. This data shows you what part of the process needs to be adjusted. It also gives you an idea of where your sales team is performing well or underperforming. When you leverage this data to optimize the process, you will realize tremendous success for your business.

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Meredith Benson

Community Outreach Manager for Blue Horseshoe

Meredith Benson is the Community Outreach Manager for Blue Horseshoe, a supply chain consultancy helping leading retailers and manufacturers to streamline their operations and build more resilient supply chain operations. Outside of work, she enjoys spending time with her family & two dogs in central Indiana.

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