Many sales and marketing teams are split into two distinct groups. For example, Heads of Sales will often want a business development team to focus on outbound sales, so they’ll typically task business development representatives (BDRs) with qualifying leads and making initial contact with prospective clients. On the other hand, sales development representatives (SDRs) tend to work with inbound sales opportunities. They might follow up on email contacts, website visits, or, depending on the organization, even deal with face-to-face showroom sales.
Sales-focused SDRs and sales managers usually enjoy this split in responsibilities because it means that sales reps can play to their strengths. BDRs tend to be great researchers, hunting down new leads and areas for potential new customers that others might not have thought of. Conversely, SDRs are often highly personable, able to strike up relationships quickly and have in-depth product knowledge they can utilize to direct would-be customers toward a purchase.
This split approach is not the only option though. Anyone responsible for structuring a sales team — even a small one consisting of just a few people— should also consider the merits of a full cycle sales set-up.
Okay, full sales cycles might not be the right fit for every business - but you should know what full sales cycle entails so you can make that decision for yourself.
Read this blog post to find out more about full sales cycles, the sort of businesses suited to them, and the potential advantages they can provide.
Full cycle sales is a method for providing B2B and B2C sales that puts individual sales reps in control of the whole sales process. Although models can differ, in a typical sales cycle, there are seven stages to consider:
- Making initial contact
- Product or service presentation
- Overcoming objections
- Closing the sale
Crucially, sales operations don't end at stage seven but return to stage one, continuing over and over again. In a full-cycle sales model, a single sales rep will be responsible for all seven stages, dealing with initial prospects through to closing the deal.
By contrast, businesses that have SDR and BDR teams will usually split their sales cycle up somewhere around stages three, four, or five. Exactly where it's split comes down to the sales manager and their judgment of what works best in their set-up. Sometimes, BDRs hand over their prospects to account executives (AEs) rather than SDRs, but the function is the same. The split approach means different salespeople take on different responsibilities. In a full cycle sales set-up, such split responsibilities don't exist.
All types of businesses can benefit from full-cycle sales. However, some types of operations tend to lend themselves more naturally to this style of selling. Usually, because of resourcing, SMBs and startups usually adopt full-cyle selling. This is because small businesses simply don’t have the staff to split their sales and marketing operations into two distinct teams, so splitting their sales reps into two further groups just isn't practical.
In businesses with six or fewer sales reps, it's best to deploy full cycle sales so that everyone takes responsibility for each part of their own sales processes, from prospecting to closure. Another type of business that benefits from a full-cycle sales operation is one that's split across the world.
If you’ve got just one or two sales reps in a state, country, or city, then your executives probably cover all the sales processes in their respective regions.
Handing over leads midway through the sales process to another employee, potentially hundreds — if not thousands — of miles away, is impractical.
Businesses that have issues with a split sales model may find success in adopting a full-cycle sales process. This happens when BDRs and sales executives, who are primarily focused on prospecting, aren't handing leads over at the right time. This may cause resentment in SDR and AE teams, especially when disputes over bonuses and commissions ensue.
Similar problems can arise when BDRs hand over their leads, but too many of them are not closed by the teams they've passed them on to.
If so, BDRs can sometimes feel like closing deals themselves. In turn, this causes problems for sales managers with disgruntled sales executives in their teams. Any Head of Sales who faces these sorts of issues may find that switching to a full-cycle sales model removes these issues, resulting in a happier, motivated, and more productive sales team.
Some sales managers like full-cycle sales because it simplifies processes. Others prefer it because it aligns with their operational needs, either because they're split across geographies or because of the size of the team they manage.
Conversely, some business leaders impose full sales cycles on their senior sales executives because it creates a level playing field for all their staff, helping determine who their top performers are.
There are numerous advantages of using full sales cycles. Even though switching from a split model doesn't suit every sales team, the potential upsides should be considered and weighed against any potential disruption that might occur from changing. Here are the advantages of full-cycle sales:
Employing customer-centric or customer-first strategies can be useful, helping your sales team generate better-qualified leads from more engaged customers.
However, selling to pre-existing customers does come with some downsides. Sales generally happen when the customer is ready to purchase (not the person selling). This can be frustrating for salespeople to accept and being too pushy could damage your relationship with your existing customer.
Instead, it’s better to focus on what your customer wants, what they need and make it easy as possible for them to convert. Use your salesperson as a single point of contact for future sales, enquiries and order follow-ups.
When you have poorly trained SDRs, with little to no understanding of your value proposition and overall sales process, who qualify leads, you may experience poor results.
If a sales rep has the job of qualifying leads, then they're bound to disqualify some, but this might be for good reason. For instance, the prospect isn’t suitable or isn’t ready to make a sales decision.
When sales executives are responsible for both prospecting and lead qualifying, they're only likely to abandon leads if it's truly going nowhere.
When a sales rep is only qualifying leads and hasn't been involved in earlier stages, it often becomes easier to disqualify. You could be losing sales that, had the lead not been disqualified, would've led to closures.
A split team sales model doesn't necessarily mean you're throwing good leads away, but the potential is always there. It just isn’t as likely in a full-cycle sales model.
If you have a split sales cycle with BDRs and account executives or SDRs, of course, it can work well. Some clients may want to continue utilizing relationships with their account manager, especially if they're happy with the service they’re receiving.
However, some customers may prefer to deal with one point of contact throughout each new sales process. T his can often be the case among clients who have returned to you after not placing orders for a while or customers who need a bespoke service for every order they place.
If this is what all — or even just some — of your customers are saying, changing to full-cycle sales makes sense.
This can be particularly effective in B2B sales where client entertainment, product education, or technical sales.
In some sales teams, it’ll be your executives, not your customers, who tell you they'd prefer to work in a full cycle sales environment.
For sales executives, it means enjoying a more varied role, taking charge of all the stages in the cycle, not just one or two. Also, full-cycle sales can lead to more turnover through fewer disqualifications, thereby boosting the earning potential of sales reps.
Full-cycle sales models also help make the ownership of sales clearer cut. By having one person prospect, nurture, qualify, and close their sales, there's less room for others to claim commissions or ownership of sales in which they've only had a minor role. As a result, this can lead to a happier workplace.
Customer relationship management (CRM) systems make it easier for sales reps and sales staff to track the status of their deals, from the start of the sales cycle to closing and generating new referrals from existing clients.
A key benefit of utilizing a CRM system in a full cycle sales set-up is that you’ll centralize your prospect and customer data in one location.
Well-designed contact management software allows managers to easily understand who's dealing with which clients and, crucially, which sales rep is in charge of which contact. In a full cycle sales model, you'll want all inbound calls and emails from a contact to go to the assigned rep. Equally, an integrated contact management system that filters email correspondence and inbound phone calls correctly will help streamline internal processes. Not only does it save time among your employees, but it should also improve the customer's experience by finding their point of contact seamlessly.
Your CRM suite should also provide you with sales analytics. This is particularly useful for manufacturing companies or businesses that need to buy goods to fulfill orders.
By tracking your sales reps' performance and where they are in the sales cycle, you can better predict how to manage your financial and human resources down the line.
Likewise, if too many sales reps are at the prospecting and nurturing stages, your CRM should inform you, allowing you to make informed managerial decisions to move more sales further into the cycle at later stages.
Capsule CRM can improve the performance of a full-cycle sales operation significantly. Discover how by signing up for our 14-day free trial.