Working across multiple industries, including advertising, public relations, design, software development, gaming, etc. often gives me unique insights into emerging trends that most people may think are isolated to their particular field or profession.

One trend I’m noticing now is that the sales process is changing in each of these industries. It’s not just that the sales cycle has nearly doubled in the past 4-6 months, but that the decision making structure, itself, has been transformed and the ultimate decision makers have changed.

Finance is playing a greater part in these decisions, and is often becoming the ultimate decision maker.

Boards of Advisors are also playing a much greater role, and are often the final decision maker for projects.

That didn’t used to be the case. And it’s like the rules have changed, but nobody told you.

No one should be surprised that the finance department has become more involved. After the long recession and recovery, financial decisions are under intense scrutiny and must be managed well. However, when finance people are making purchase decisions for areas they aren’t qualified to make, it requires you to educate financial decision-makers on the benefits and expected return of what you are selling.

Remember, finance folks are “numbers” people. They love data. Naturally, then, there is a greater demand for measurement. This new requirement is tough for most sales people and small business owners in creative fields who aren’t used to quantifying the results of their work.

I’m also hearing from my clients that when it comes time for their prospective client to make a decision about working with them, either the clients didn’t communicate at all, or communicated that the Board was reviewing the decision. This is highly frustrating and not anticipated by most sales people.

What this change now requires is asking your clients specifically who will be making the final decision? What’s the process for making the decision? And it may even require incentivizing your customers to make a decision by a particular date.

Here is a perfect example.

I was working with a client in public relations who was facing this challenge. To help their prospective client make a decision sooner rather than later (which is important for your own cash flow needs), we created a bonus if the client made a decision early, and a savings if they made the decision by a particular date.

What this new trend means is:

  • You may have to approach the sales process differently and provide different (new) types of information, depending on who is making the decision.
  • You may have to change your expectations on the length of sales cycle and the amount of effort you need to expend to land new business.
  • You probably need to get more creative about how you help clients make decisions in a time frame that works for your business, and that makes them even more confident about the decision they end up making.

Have you noticed this trend happening in your own business?
What has changed about your typical sales cycle, or about the decision-making process your own customers are using?

Leave a comment below to share.

If you need help creating a strategy, work with your coach, or call me, to get help.

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