How to Deal with Long Sales Cycles as a B2B Founder


As a rule of thumb, the bigger the sale amount, the longer the sales cycle. For startup founders who have never experienced an enterprise sales cycle, this can be quite unsettling.

Yet, the average number of attempts needed to make a sale is eight to ten.

If you’re trying to reach C-level executives, expect to make 12 to 14 contacts or followups before even thinking of giving up.

It can take a year or two to close certain deals, and that’s when things are going well. Michael Wolfe, co-founder of Vontu, notoriously took a full year just to find his early customers.

So, how do you deal with long sales cycles?

Navigating a Long Sales Cycle

Don’t despair and don’t get caught by surprise. Plan for a long startup runway and start building your sales process and funnel.

Getting your early prospects to convert might take a long time; make sure you consistently have new leads in the pipeline to be growing year over year.

Make noise in the industry. Connect your early customers with other customers, write case studies, and look for ways to speed up product-market validation.

Sales cycles will be long no matter what. Focus on your early adopters, optimize, and reduce the perception of length of your sales cycle.

Speeding up a Long Sales Cycle

If you’re still dealing with long sales cycles, get an insider – someone in the business – to recommend your product.

The coach (the recommender) should desire your success. He/she must be willing to help make sure that it gets implemented.

Coaches typically play the user or economic buyer roles. They rarely work in IT. They tend to be early adopters, and thus are generally open to sharing your messages with colleagues and executives.

A good coach has credibility with the other buying influencers and strong personal relationships with their peers.

It’s essential to get a coach. To convert a buyer into a coach, tell the engaged prospect that you’re looking for advice or coaching. You value their perspective and you’re looking for mentoring.

Sometimes the decision-maker is too busy and will refer to their influencers. To speed up long sales cycles when selling to large businesses, find those influencers and find ways to motivate them to champion your solution.

Get creative. It will drastically increase your odds of closing deals and speed up your long sales cycle.

More on Long Sales Cycle


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