I have noticed a pretty compelling trend as it relates to our sales cycle and trade shows.
Most shows in the AP space place a heavy emphasis on attendee education and offer a number of tracks for everyone to attend and learn about the latest trends in the Accounts Payable. All of these shows accept sponsorship from service providers and create a forum for professional in the space to interface with service providers to encourage education about service providers’ offerings.
The most common type of attendee/sponsor interaction is a tradeshow floor which as most of you know consists of colorful booths and clever give aways. Shows which offer these types of forums are very helpful and always fun. Another type of interaction are the shows that, in favor of a tradeshow floor, offer a series of one-on-one meetings between professionals representing major corporations and service providers. These shows are typically smaller and have a very different feel about them.
SO why am I bringing all this up? In our business we usually experience a 120-150 day sales cycle. That is to say, it takes about 4-5 months to meet a new company, educate them on our software products and begin doing business with them. This average is actually good for our particular market, but it is certainly not the fastest sales cycle.
An interesting trend has been revealed; when we attend typical trade shows we close business in our average sales cycle, but when we attend shows with one-on-one meetings we drop our sales cycle down to 60-75 days. In other words when we meet with buyers and show them our software on “day one” they buy from us in half the time.
It has ocurred to me that this particular blog may be better suited for a marketing blog, but I think this empirical data says a lot about the AP industry. I believe professionals in this space are open to adopting new technology, but it is sometimes difficult to convince buyers that we have a new and unique approach. A lot of providers are using the same phrases, “faster,” “new techology,” more recoveries,” etc. In most cases the first half of the 120-150 day sales cylce is convincing the buyer that we really are different. When we finally get that point across and we earn the right to demonstrate our software… that is when the sale begins to accelerate.