Blog Post

S3 Growth Series: Managing the Payroll Sales Cycle | Apex HCM

A broad look at B2B sales suggests that the sales cycle is evolving, no matter the products or services offered. Most pointedly, it’s getting longer – 22 percent longer than five years ago, to be precise – and more complex. In one recent survey 58 percent of responding buyers said their decision process was longer in 2017 than in 2016, while just 10 percent said their purchase time decreased. What’s driving these drawn-out cycles? According to survey results:


  • 77 percent of buyers are conducting more detailed ROI analysis before making a purchase decision;
  • 75 percent are using more information sources for research and evaluation;
  • And 52 percent are increasing the number of purchase decision makers.


Still, research shows that decision-making B2B buyers typically are 57 percent of the way to a buying decision before actively engaging with sales representatives for the first time. In consistently time-sensitive fields like payroll, that bit of information is key to minimizing the sales cycle and keeping revenue flowing in.

“Ideally, the sales cycle is quick in payroll. It’s a one-call close, particularly to a small employer. An initial presentation, then a demo and a close,” says Misty Blakesley, Director of Sales & Account Management for Apex HCM. “If you’re having a third or fourth meeting and there’s no decision, you have an unidentified challenge or block that you’ve not overcome.”

Though the larger the target business, the longer the sales cycle, Blakesley maintains that once you’re in productive talks with a prospect, “ideally, you want to be running the next payroll for them, or no more than the second payroll out. An interested buyer shouldn’t linger for more than 30 to 45 days.”

If that’s not happening, it’s time to “ask the hard questions,” she says. The first questions are those your payroll sales representatives must first ask themselves:


  • Do I have the true decision maker?
  • If there are multiple decision makers, do I have them all engaged?
  • Do I understand who the influencers or challengers are, why they’re stalling and how to neutralize that?
  • Do I really have an opportunity right now?


“If the answer to all of those questions is ‘yes’ and you’re not getting a yes or no from the prospect, then it’s time to have a frank conversation with the decision maker on what’s preventing them from moving forward.”

Often, it’s simply a matter of timing or at least a perception that the timing isn’t right. For instance, if a prospective client is in a highly seasonal industry that’s currently in its busiest time of year, a payroll sales rep will gain favor by asking to schedule an appointment at the close of the season. However, if the prospect is concerned about switching payroll platforms at the mid-point of a fiscal quarter or year, a savvy rep will be able to demonstrate that today’s payroll technology makes conversions easy at any time.

In any case “an interested buyer shouldn’t linger for more than 30 to 45 days,” Blakesley says.

Once the sale is made, it’s imperative that your payroll sales rep remains engaged with a new client throughout the conversion, collecting all needed paperwork, onboarding the client and their staff and customers properly, making sure that all information is entered correctly and that the implementation team remains in constant communication with all parties.

“The initial experience – that first and second payroll – will set the tone for the relationship for the remainder of the client’s time with your payroll firm,” Blakesley says.

To learn more about Apex HCM’s cloud-based, fully customizable payroll, HCM and time and attendance solutions, call 877-750-2739 or visit us online to request a demo.