How to Deal With Long Sales Cycles

Joseph Stubblebine
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In the world of sales, there are ups and downs. While some buyers place orders like clockwork, others operate on their own steady schedules, which isn't always ideal for you. A long sales cycle can be difficult to handle, especially if you have a limited number of customers. Accelerating these buying cycles is naturally the best way to keep profits coming in, but some planning and scheduling can help you to manage times of drought.

There are long and short-term solutions to extended sales cycles. Establishing regular buying patterns takes time, so you need to cultivate genuine business relationships that are mutually beneficial. Loyal clients and customers are the bread and butter for any successful salesperson, but establishing sales partnerships takes time. Reaching out to current clients on a personal level is an effective way to decrease the intervals between sales.

One easy way to extend a friendly hand is to use social media. Most people can recognize a sales call before they even pick up the phone, and social media gives you a chance to put a human face to the salesperson. Sharing a funny picture or fascinating news story helps give your business relationships momentum. Social media is also an effective way to subtly remind someone about your product or service without directly asking for someone's business.

Of course, sometimes a long sales cycle is what it is, and there's nothing you can do to change that. As a salesperson, this can be frustrating if a significant portion of your income comes from these sales. You may get a substantial check in the fall only to have a severe decrease in income by spring. This is why scheduling is important. Talk to your clients and customers and try to establish consistent sales all year. Even if there is an extended sales cycle, multiple purchases throughout the year keep things steady and manageable.

Coordinating with the marketing department is another way to shorten the sales cycle, or at least to make successful selling work in accordance with your schedule. Try to work promotions into that middle period between sales. Have the marketing department send out specific e-mail blasts at strategic times. Work with other people within your organization to target sluggish buyers in a way that is deliberate without being invasive. Sometimes a well-timed reminder is all it takes to hasten a sale.

There is no formula for successful selling. The bottom line is that you know what works for your clients. Some of them require some motivation, while others may find constant reminders intrusive. Take a unique approach to each customer and client and treat them with respect. Sometimes being a good sales rep is all it takes to close those gaps between sales. The days of the pushy salesperson are over. Knowing when to give control to the buyer helps to build successful business relationships.

Most cyclic customers are willing to adapt to a schedule that works for both parties involved. Manage your schedule while simultaneously trying to narrow the intervals between purchases. If you can't quicken sales cycles, at least you can space them out in a way that allows you to give your full attention to each person. This helps you to manage your finances while cultivating long-term business relationships.

Photo courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at


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