Every business stresses the importance of knowing customers. In sales departments, managers frequently invest in customer relationship management software and other tools to collect data and information about prospects' needs, pain points, habits and tendencies. In many cases, salespeople know a great deal about these individuals or organizations before they even contact leads.

But what do customers know about the business and salespeople calling them? The answer is frequently "not enough." Agents can prepare all they want to engage prospects, but they also sometimes need to ensure customers are ready to take the necessary steps to convert into sales.

For example, consider the decision makers at a business. Every company has different employees to handle various tasks at the office. When salespeople engage businesses, they need to ensure the right people are involved in the call. If an agent is trying to sell financial software, they need to talk to the person in charge of financial activities. They can't just talk to the front desk staff and set up a meeting with the owner, they must to work with the company to make sure it's prepared for the call, otherwise they may end up delaying the sale.

"Or in reviewing the agenda, the customer does't have all the information they need to provide you in order for you to achieve your goals," Business 2 Community adds as another common instance. "You sent an agenda, but they pulled it up and looked at it just as you entered their office. They spend time trying to get the information. It takes time and attention from the meeting. You fail to get all the commitments you had hoped for – you schedule another meeting."

The fastest sales cycle is the one that involves the fewest number of steps. Agents need to know their customers, but they must also ensure their customers know them and understand what they need to do to complete a sale with the representative. This will greatly reduce the number of steps in the sales cycle, helping agents to maximize the number of conversions and improve the performance of the department as a whole.

Ultimately, it also boils down to salespeople knowing what they need to do to complete a sale. These skills and insights can be acquired through sales coaching.