The nature of sales is ever-changing. Sales isn’t a static process. After all, sales is about inspiring people and people change their minds and preferences all the time. So, as you carve out your company sales funnel and strategy, you should always be looking for a way to improve and enhance every step. Monitoring sales trends and industry tips can ensure you stay ahead of the curve of how customers want to be engaged. And today, we’ll share the absolute latest sales strategy tips you can’t live without if you plan to close more deals.
Pro Tip #1: Remember, you can’t make their decisions for them. You can only persuade and inspire them to make a purchasing decision in your favor.
Who are you selling to? Check your buyer personas and try to develop an authentic understanding about what language your potential customers are speaking. When you speak their language and frame your sales story around what really matters most to them, you can separate yourself from your competitors. And they won’t just see you as different because of the words you choose to use. They’ll feel an authentic connection to you and your brand, as well.
There’s a science behind understanding your prospect’s language, too. In 1928, Carl Jung concluded that people process and receive information from four unique perspectives. Together he and Isabel Briggs Myers developed the test commonly used today to identify these personalities.
Adjust Your Language If Your Sales Target or Key Decision Maker Is a:
Feeler: If you’re sitting down to do a presentation with a Feeler, you should know that you’re pitching someone who is sensitive to feelings and empathy. They are keenly aware of how to avoid conflict and make most of their life and business decisions based on relationships and emotions. Relating to these decision-makers means creating an emotional and empathetic connection.
Thinker: The Thinker personalities are mental workhorses, as the name implies. They will question every scenario and consider every potential outcome possible before making a decision. They’re motivated by ways to increase their own mental fortitude, too. So if what you have to offer has an educational added value aspect, promote it to these guys. Thinkers can sometimes be controlling in nature as a way to predict their own paths. But ultimately, look for stimulating their brains and be ready to answer ALL the questions.
Sensor: Big ideas and lofty future projections won’t matter to the Sensor. These key decision-makers or consumer buyers need to see, touch, hear, taste and experience things before investing. These are your common sense conversationalists who won’t be moved by flashy presentations or flashing infographics. Think Jerry Maguire and “show them the money” or value propositions or savings right away. And these folks will appreciate the free trial, leave behind materials and freebies the most.
Intuitive: Unlike their Sensor counterparts, the Intuitive personalities like to imagine the long-term results. They can visualize your story with you and can be sold on big picture wins down the road. However, they also rely on past experiences to make future decisions. So be prepared to address past concerns. These decision-makers can still be practical in their buying preferences. But you can certainly take them on that imaginary journey to introduce them to your company.
Meet Frank: Frank’s sales pitch to businesses for commercial cleaning services is going to be entirely different from the conversation he has with random, individual foot traffic walking through his door. He has to speak a business leader’s language and describe how his service can be a great addition to a company benefits package for employees. He needs to speak to bottom-line savings and value as well as how convenient his pickup and delivery service really is. He needs to make the company decision-maker a hero for choosing to do business with him.
Pro Tip #2: Remember, managers buy from managers, CEOs trust CEOs and consumers trust experts. Make sure your sales pitch aligns with your target.
Remember, if a doctor prescribes medication/procedures without a diagnosis, it’s considered malpractice. It’s no different in your business. If you try to prescribe a general ‘blanket’ solution to a potential buyer without knowing their needs and wants, you are doing them a disservice and setting yourself up to fail or, worse, be just like your competition.
Asking the pain point-driven questions:
- What’s your business story?
- Could you better help me understand your business process?
- What are your daily/weekly goals? Long-term goals?
- What are some of the most significant concerns you face right now?
- What are your expectations about selecting a solution?
- Do you have a budget constraint or expectation in mind?
- If you were able to solve a particular problem, how much better would things be for you?
- What do you struggle the most with?
We’ve talked about the importance of asking pivotal questions before. But here’s the next real piece of the pain-point discovery puzzle – listening to the answer.
All too often, enthusiastic or nervous salespeople rush through the question process without carefully listening and considering the prospect’s responses. Of course, your clients might be open about telling you things. But there are also non-verbal cues that can help you better understand their position too.
Meet Abby: Abby needs to identify her corporate lunch prospects’ pain points if she wants to differentiate her pizzeria and catering from every other doorstep delivery food service in town. She starts asking around for feedback from individuals who attend those meetings and learns people get frustrated with company lunch options being limited. This led Abby to ask questions of her prospects directly about what they struggle with when coordinating with food service. Soon, she learns that all these other restaurants delivering food don’t really understand how to cater or provide food service. They’re just dropping off orders and leaving. Abby discovers that what her customers need is a service that is prompt, sets up everything, cleans up afterward and provides delicious menu options everyone can love. This “we handle everything” approach is the solution she needs to lead with in her sales efforts.
Pro Tip #3: Don’t bullshit anyone. If your prospect smells any kind of false advertising, they won’t just tell you no; they’ll tell everyone else to avoid doing business with you, too.
No matter how you engage with your target prospects (online, in person, by mail, phone, etc.), the process should always be centered on relationship building. Here are tips for building sales relationships along every stage of the sales funnel and customer journey:
- Build relationships using whatever makes sense. Favorite sports team conversation or non-polarizing current events can get a conversation going. Find your way to connect.
- Don’t let your conversations die before you’ve had a chance to get to your point. Save the awkward silence for AFTER you’ve asked for the purchasing commitment.
- Often called the ‘Time Out Call’ or the ‘Discovery’ phase of the sales process, it’s the time you hand over the mic and let prospects do all the talking.
- Avoid polarizing topics at all costs. Don’t chime in about politics, sex or religion at any point in your sales conversation. You might think you’re aligning yourself with a prospect’s beliefs, but those sentiments almost always backfire in business.
- Don’t be over-eager to close the deal. If the prospect isn’t convinced, there’s no amount of begging or pushing that will make them decide. You’ll have better results if you leave on a good note, with plans to return for a follow-up conversation. Make sure to always recognize where the prospect is in the sales cycle so you know when to go for the close.
- Setting the expectation is paramount. You can diffuse any pressure from a sales conversation, for example, if you say, “there is nothing to buy today,” and remove the commitment off the table. Instead, use the time to identify pain points, listen and identify how your company can uniquely offer the solution.
- Prepare a list of customer details you hope to uncover in the conversation before having it. Knowing what you need to get out of the presentation or engagement will ensure you don’t overlook any critical points.
- Your sales strategy should aim to build confidence in you as well as your business in the minds of your target prospects over time. And don’t give up those efforts, no matter how long it takes to achieve results.
All of the world’s branding, marketing and sales efforts won’t amount to a hill of beans if you or your teams can’t close a door. Closing the deal requires just as much strategy as every other step of the sales process. And while each client situation will be different, knowing how to close in today’s buying world can mean the difference between business sales success and failure. Unfortunately, if you don’t learn how to effectively close a sale, you’ll likely end up closing your doors.
Closing Techniques to Practice:
You simply ask for the purchase. Depending on your situation, you might say, “Let’s talk about the next steps to get started” or “If you’re able to sign today, we can deliver today.”
You just assume the prospect is going to buy, and you provide two “yes-yes” options. For example, you might say, “Great, let me get this order filled out right now, or would you prefer to sign now and opt-in tomorrow?” Or, in true sales fashion, you could say, “It sounds like Plan C is probably a better fit unless you think Plans A and B work better?”
Not all of your potential prospects are going to be able to close in the moment. For example, they might have to submit paperwork to onboard you as a new vendor or present your proposal to the budget department. In these instances, use the conditional close. You can set the criteria for their decision to close later. For example, “If we can meet all your requirements within budget, will you go ahead?” or “If I can get it delivered this week, can you place an order today?” and “If I throw the roof rack in for free, can you commit to purchasing?”
Get really crafty with the alternative close method where instead of asking for the official commitment to purchase, you ask other opt-in questions that get your prospect to create a pattern of agreeing with you. This is Neo’s ultimate Matrix question. He has to choose the red pill or the blue pill. It never occurs to him to get up and leave the room, though, does it? And this same psychology can work when you’re closing a sale. “So, Mr. Smith, do you feel like the green option looks better or the blue?”
Try Before You Buy, aka the Puppy Dog Sale
It’s not really a closing technique, but there is some closing genius behind the “try before you buy” method. And there are countless other companies and industries out there that have mastered it. Think about the software industry alone, where every new app or solution comes with a free trial period. Mattresses allow you to sleep on them for 100 nights before committing to spending money for the purchase. And while the trial offer won’t work for every business segment, it can be a great way to get your target audience to fall in love with what you’re selling and let the product or service sell itself.
Pro Tip #4: Don’t stop perfecting your sales pitch. The second you stop improving your skills and knowledge is the second your competitors will take the lead.
Remember that the best sales strategies will always be evolving, just like everything else in your business. And once you feel you have a great sales funnel and process in place, it’s time to train your teams. We’ll discuss how to go about enacting effective sales training and support in our next blog conversation. In the meantime, of course, if you’re still thinking you could use additional help with refining your sales technique, let Awareness Business Group help!