It's the "Education Cycle" that is longer and (almost always) poorly executed, that too often is confused as the "Sales Cycle".
A senior executive at GE once said to me "Bob, you and your team are doing an excellent job of educating us. This will work to your advantage because our actual buying process will be much shorter, and for Siebel, (my employer), less difficult". I thought we had been selling all along.
For 2014, Gartner reported 67% of RFP's either led to no buying action or a purchase that went longer than 6 months after the intended award date. RFI means "help educate us" and RFP means "before we request funding we need an air tight business case". All too often, RFI's and RFP's are designed to gain information without having to deal with sales people. The issue is that too many vendors treat RFI's and RFP's as qualified sales opportunities - big mistake.
This misperception has a dramatic impact on the cost of sales teams (salaries, benefits, training, support, etc.) that organizations invest in to "sell" their product.