Long Sales Cycle? Hop Online

By Heather Baldwin

The realities of a businessperson’s life never change –lengthening sales cycles, qualifying customers, taxes – unless, of course, you’re using online meetings in your sales process. Granted, the Internet can’t help you escape the IRS, but it can help you move the sales process along at a much faster rate at almost every step of the cycle. Peter Ryce, evangelist for Macromedia Breeze (www.macromedia.com/software/breeze), says there are four ways online meetings can help you accelerate your sales cycle.

1. Lead generation. Want to generate a list of highly qualified leads quickly? Hold an online presentation. Prepare to speak on a topic of importance to potential customers about a challenge they all face and how you can help solve it. Then email invitations to everyone on your list of leads. As people sign up you’ll be gathering the preliminary information – names, titles, companies and email addresses, at a minimum – of the best-qualified leads from your initial list. During the presentation itself you can collect even more information about specific needs, budgets, timelines and whether prospects would like to be contacted by a salesperson, which will allow you to further winnow down your list to the most qualified. With one event, you’ll know exactly who to call and how quickly.

2. Get right to the decision maker. In a typical sales scenario a rep meets with a prospect who then meets with various other people in the organization to discuss what was learned from the rep. It can take weeks for your prospects to get to everyone they need to see – weeks in which you’re waiting for feedback and to move the sales process forward. Cut out all these steps by emailing prospects a rich presentation that incorporates information about how your product will benefit the prospect and, perhaps, a demonstration of your product in use using both audio and video. Prospects then can view the presentation instantly and forward it to all the right people with a click of the mouse.

With a rich Web communication system such as Breeze, you’ll know who the presentation goes to and when everyone has seen it, which means you’ll know exactly when to pick up the phone to follow up. “You can take days or weeks out of the cycle this way,” says Ryce, “because getting decision makers into a meeting can be a multiweek effort.”

3. Warm up your cold calls. When you pick up the phone to cold call, have an instant meeting room ready to go. You’ve only got a few seconds to grab someone’s interest – grab it by showing instead of telling. One of Macromedia’s Breeze customers sells chicken elevators. When they cold call leads they try to get those leads into an online meeting room where they have photos of their product, animations that show how the buttons work and what the results are. Prospects see instantly whether the product will be a fit. If it is, the sales rep can skip a lot of the preliminary work such as mailing information, setting up an initial meeting to show prospects the product and so on because it was all done during the cold call.

4. Get expert input quickly. How many times have you given a sales presentation only to have audience members ask a technical question to which you have to say: I don’t know the answer to that, but I’ll get back to you? So you get back to the office and email your technical expert, who eventually writes back to say more information is needed to answer the question. So you go back to the prospect for more information and then back to the expert. It’s a week later before your prospect has an answer. In an online meeting environment you can call up experts the minute the question is raised, pull them into the meeting and let them address the client directly. “I’m called all the time by sales reps who say: I’m in a meeting with a client who has questions about X; can you hop on for a minute? No matter where I am, I can get into the meeting and answer the questions,” says Ryce.

Want more information about how you can accelerate your sales cycle with online meetings? Go to www.sellingpower.com/webconf.