The best way to close more deals is to actually get out and start selling, but that can be easier said than done. Whether you're a seasoned salesperson or you're just starting out, there will always come points where you feel overwhelmed and unsure about what sales strategy would work best. That's why in this post, we're discussing some great tactics to either help you get started on your journey or refresh your expertise. By moving forward with these tools, you'll be able to improve your technique over time and settle on a strategy that fits your strengths and situation.
1. Shorten the sales cycle
The sooner you convince your prospect, the more likely you are to close the deal. The challenge is that you have to deal with multiple stages of evaluation before a lead is ready to buy. This scenario is particularly true for B2B cases. The decision rarely rests on your first point of contact. They are more likely to be the ones gathering information to take up the chain of command, and there may be multiple levels of this escalation before the final decision is made. So you spend all this effort to get that first person's attention, and then still there is no guarantee that you'll close the deal. And although B2C sales cycles may have fewer hoops, you will still come across tough prospects who just don't want to convert.
There are a few ways to overcome this problem. First, identify your main decision-maker and direct your pitch to them. For example, if you're reaching out to potentials on LinkedIn, choose someone at the C-level or managerial level rather than an associate. To know who you should be reaching out to, you'll have to spend more time researching your prospects instead of talking to them. And that's okay. The more thorough your research, the more you'll know about the organisation, their business challenges, and their structure. This can help you customise your pitch and target only the most relevant leads.
Once you've narrowed down your target audience, you can design your pitch. Not every key feature needs to be in your sales pitch. Instead of pointing out how your product is the best, make it about your potential customer. For example, if you're selling a flashlight to an adventure hiker, having four styles of lights may be less important than having a backup solar panel that'll activate automatically in case the batteries run out. Address issues they're currently facing and craft a story about how your product will provide them with a long-term solution.
2. Choose your techniques
There are many proven techniques you can use in your sales process, but the most successful ones are always specific to your prospect. This means you may have to change your process often, sometimes even in the middle of a sales initiative. Having a well-researched strategy on how to approach your prospect can help reduce friction and keep your confidence high. Here are some common ways to improve your conversion rates.
What and how much you can discount varies by industry and business. That said, offering discounts is often a good way to encourage on-the-fence prospects. For example, if you sell lifestyle products, you could do holiday self-care promotions. Targeting them around the holiday also creates a sense of urgency, enticing them to buy. If you sell a customisable product like software, you can eliminate some of the features that they wouldn't need. This will lower the cost and better incentivise your audience.
Provide a range of options
If you're trying to target a wide range of customers, ensure that you target multiple use cases. Canned tomatoes are a great example. A company may offer diced, peeled, and crushed tomatoes to start with. Then, they may introduce seasoned diced tomatoes with onions for anyone making spaghetti, or no-sodium versions for those watching their salt intake. When prospects see your organisation taking this approach, they'll develop a deeper trust that you can handle all of their needs.
Let them try it
You'd never purchase a car without taking a test drive. By letting potential customers try your product in a setting that mimics how they'd actually use it in daily life, you're giving them an opportunity to discover how your product can benefit them. And if they need more time to assess, by all means, give it to them. For most prospects, an undisturbed trial is essential for choosing a product.
Respond to questions and feedback
Potential customers who are trying out your product may have questions or run into issues. This is a critical stage in your sales process where you can respond promptly, address any concerns, and answer questions. This sends signals to your prospects about how empathetic your business is towards its customers. It's important to reassure potential buyers that you'll always support them, even after they purchase.
Summarise the sale
In certain industries and business structures, a sale could take multiple calls, face-to-face meetings, trial extensions, or demos before a potential is ready to buy. In those cases, just before the final piece falls into place, summarise the sales process and confirm for the customer exactly what they are purchasing. For example, right before you purchase something online, you'll be able to see the complete details of the product and your purchase summarised on one screen. With an overview like this, you allow the buyer to confirm for themselves that they are making the right choice.
Ask, but without being pushy
One of the most important elements of making a sale is asking for it. Benny, a Zoho sales manager had this to say about asking for the sale, "We can help prospects understand our products, create a proof of concept to understand the business, and arrange a tech call to sort out IT issues—and whatever happens in each of those stages, we should always ask for the sale. Ask when they can decide, ask them to accept the quote estimate, and ask them to send the purchase order." This can sometimes feel like you're pushing the prospect, but even though the sale is your primary goal, your prospect may have a lot of other things on their plate. Especially with a B2B sale, as in Zoho's case, you'll have enough time between conversations so that it doesn't come across as manipulative. Instead, it may be helpful to remind the prospect what you're both working towards.
Users don't always trust salespeople. It can be a challenge to convince your prospect that even though you want the sale, you're also speaking in their best interest. That's why it's important to build a genuine relationship with your prospects. If your product or service can sincerely benefit them, don't be afraid to offer your personal recommendations and advice. For instance, imagine you sell data plans for smartphones. In your conversations with your prospect, you learn that they enjoy taking photos but don't like watching YouTube on their phone. This means they don't necessarily a need high-speed 100GB data pack. Instead, you can suggest a much lower data package and encourage them to upgrade their phone memory. In this case, even though you're not making the most money possible, you'll gain your prospect's confidence. The next time they need help or someone else they know needs information, they'll be more likely to come to you for guidance.
3. Use a CRM
A CRM is a fundamental requirement for great sales. Not only does it serve as a single database for all your lead, prospect, and customer information, but it also helps you map out the buyer's journey. A truly effective CRM system goes a step further, helping you track sales metrics with custom reports and dashboards, and even predicting sales patterns so you can set more realistic goals. In fact, according to LinkedIn's 2020 State of Sales report, 72% of Australian sales professionals say that sales intelligence tools like a CRM are essential for them to close deals. Once you start using a CRM to optimise your pipeline, it'll be easier to execute your sales strategy.
How folks at Zoho approach sales
"I follow a consulting approach to selling products. So my first priority is to solve the problems and address the issues of the existing vendor. Once you show them that our product will solve their troubles, the sale will happen automatically."
Zoho ANZ Enterprise Sales
11+ years of selling software
"Understand the cost and value of your products so you can 'upsell' when it's beneficial to customers. For example, if a customer purchases 3 glasses of the same wine, you can suggest buying the bottle, and explain the pricing model. Or, let them know of a relevant promotion you're currently running. They may not be interested, but that's okay. It's a good practice to ensure they're aware of their choices."
Zoho ANZ Brand and Event Marketing
4+ years of bar management and 2+ years of branding
"I categorise prospects based on the size of business, their revenue and budget, their level of interest in the product, and their business requirements. I have a different follow-up process for each of those criterion."
Zoho Regional Sales
20+ years of selling software
Sales is often seen as a highly-demanding and stressful job. And it is. However, the key to selling successfully is learning to navigate human interactions. Whether you're B2B or B2C, at the end of the day, you're selling to people like you. Be genuine in your conversations—it's better to under-promise and over-deliver than the other way around. As Lauren said, make sure you know the benefits your products or services bring to customers so that you can offer them the most value. Throughout your sales process, keep an eye on your competition as well, and alter your sales pitch to reflect any changes in the market. Have a clear strategy you can follow, but also appreciate that your prospects may have other priorities or emergencies. You can track all of this information on CRM software that's customised to fit your process. And of course, always be open to modifying your approach, and treat a prospect like you would like to be treated.