Mastering the sales process (continued) Negotiating, closing, follow up and retention. We started the series by looking at the fundamentals of remote selling, from winning habits to optimizing your technology. Part 2 focused on the early methodology of the sales process: planning, organising, and knowing when, why (criteria) and how to strategically move through the deal stages. Winning in sales is done by maintaining the same level of determination throughout the process, learning how to get the favourable outcome from all your interactions, executing at world class in negotiation and closing is what separates great salespeople from the rest.
How to design irresistible proposals
Step 1 Listen More
“Questions are to sales as breath is to life. If you fail to ask them, you will die. If you ask them incorrectly, your death will not be immediate, but it’s inevitable.” Jeffrey Gitomer
Start with their interest. Knowing what your client values the most and what they need is critical. Do your due diligence when sales planning. What issues are the most important to them? Taylor your deal on key aspects like quality, liability, cost of inaction, short term, and continuous support.
You can vary your position by dividing your deal into multiple parts and giving your client options. It will show you are flexible and opened to innovation and accepting other ideas.
When asking consultative questions, follow up to understand why the answers are the way they are. Why are the things that are important to them, important to them. Consistently connect the answers to your value add and your track record dealing with the same or similar priorities. When you have run full diagnostics repeat them back to ensure they know you understand their challenge their pain.
Step 2 Build Trust
Building trust starts with your story, your branding, your marketing, your public visibility and accessibility of testimonials and reviews.
What your company says online and in the public domain will be what potential clients and existing clients will judge you against to begin with.
How clear are your mission, values, and your purpose? As you go to the market you must embody that story and those values.
Every time you do what you say, you make an investment in the “emotional bank account” of your potential client. Being reliable and proactive, true to your values will make you stand out in the crowd. This is a certain and easy way to build trust.
Step 3 Win-Win or no deal:
Creating mutual benefit in your deals is what makes your offer well received and raise the likelihood of a negotiated agreement.
A win-win outcome is your primary goal. The easiest way to achieve win–win is to co create your proposals with your client. When they see the proposal, they should look at it and say “Yes this is what I said I wanted and I would be willing to invest in”.
Step 4. Know your strengths and weaknesses.
The success of any negotiation lies in preparation.
Start by knowing what your deal’s strengths and weaknesses are and what is the joint motivation for pushing this deal forward. Consider your client’s alternatives and walk away reasons, get in front of those.
Step 5 Know who to invite to the negotiation table.
In larger size organization, you must consider a team of buyers and deal influencers. Knowing the structure of the buying team and involving the key players in your sales process as soon as possible can avoid deal drift and ultimately disappointment.
One simple question along the lines of: “Do you think there’s anyone else that would need/like to see this?” Or “It’s great to see your buy-in on this, is there anyone else that I should be talking to in your team/organisation?” or “Will you be the only one making the decision?” can help you identify who else you should consider pitching to.
Step 6 Be flexible
Be ready to add value to your package. You thought you had designed the best deal, but you’re faced with rejection. You can’t move the price, but you do have freedom of customising. Think creatively of what bundles would relax the resistance, can you create a bundle of services? If you have listened so far to your potential client, you will know what will incite interest in a new deal.
Remember, people don’t change their minds, they make different decision based on new information.
Prepare for all possible objections, barriers, and deal breakers. How probable is it that your negotiation will be stalled and why? Are interpersonal differences the reason or your tactics have damaged the trust? Was your communication on point? If you are dealing with a different culture, could it be that inter-cultural differences have hindered the agreement? At each step get an unbiased confirmation that your actions have resolved the concerns. Get feedback from the client on how the deal is tracking in line with agreed expectations.
Get creative! Tapping into your creativity is easier said than done, especially in a business environment when your intuition pushes you to use your strategic, analytical thinking. Ask for a brainstorm solution focused session with your colleagues like mind mapping, blue-sky thinking or six thinking hats.
PRO Tip 1:
Keep in mind that if you offer a discount this might be interpreted like there could be an even better deal if they push harder. Place your price anchor right. Always start at the top of the scale when asked what your process/costs of engagement are. “We offer services up to 100k” instead of “starting at 5k” Operate discounts on a quid pro quo basis. 5% more for an extra 3 months service etc.
PRO Tip 2:
Roleplay in your head all possible outcomes in each stage of your negotiation. Don’t overestimate your position, but also never come across as desperate. You only want the deal if it’s great for you as well as the client. Keep the power but be of service.
PRO Tip 3:
Observe what your steps trigger in the other party in the negotiation process. Use questions like: “what could we do better to get you onboard in this area” or “has this resolved your concerns?”.
PRO Tip 4:
To generate value sometimes the situation will call for information disclosure so be prepared beforehand. Getting an NDA signed is a good step to ensure information can flow freely and also gets something official in writing to create a sense of an existing relationship.
Closing the deal:
People buy from you when they like and trust you and only when they are convinced of the value of your product. For your prospect to understand the value he needs to grasp where he realistically stands, where he could be, and the space between these two points – this is your product’s value, also named by Keenan as the Value Gap in Gap remote selling. The bigger the value they perceive the more likely it is that you will close the sale.
Everything you do must be crafted around the potential improvement of your client’s reality and future. You are the problem-finder and the solution-giver.
Strategies to close your deal:
Start by stating the reason why other people have bought from you and continue with strong questions asimed at the result and the most important benefit your product will offer. A question along the lines of If I can give you the “solution to the biggest pain” are you ready to buy today?
How you close the deal will depend on your buyer’s personality. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that because you are Remote selling b2b the personality of the person in front of you won’t choose to work with his preferred character type. If you are Remote selling to an organization, it is advisable you talk with more than one person, and find the one that clicks with you! Contact Linehan Group to master Multi-Functional Pitching.
Brian Tracy: in The Psychology of Remote Selling identifies the 6 most encountered buyers’ persona and the best strategies for each. Here they are starting from the most common ones:
- The analytical buyer: task-oriented, not particularly outgoing, and focused on details. To win over you will have to focus on accuracy, numbers, and specifications. Slow things down, and avoid generalization.
- The driver buyer: Impatient, direct, and straight to the point. The greatest concern is getting the results. What you need to do is speed up the process, focus on the results, and offer a quick clear decision/ action path.
- The socializer buyer, also called the integrated buyer sits balanced between being people-oriented and task-oriented. The best way to deal with this person is to write down any pre-agreed conditions, they tend to forget. Send over all copies of everything you speak about better understanding is key.
- The relater buyer: not very exuberant, interested in what people think about a product. They strive for harmony and you will need to pay extra attention to building the relationship with them. With this buyer, you should focus on the experience other of your customers had. They will buy when they know you well and after consulting with other business associates.
- The self-actualizing buyer knows exactly what he wants and how much he is willing to pay for it. You will have a decision quickly if you can match your deal to their needs/wants. The sale is easy.
- The apathetic buyer- a rare persona, they are negative and indifferent. No matter what you do, the chances are they will not be considering a change.
There are many closing strategies and approaches, but “there is no silver bullet” and the efficiency of the approach you chose will always depend on whether you’ve done your homework in knowing your client, your product’s value and ultimately making yourself liked.
Here are some closing strategies that work well, when executed well.
- The assumptive/ summary close.
We like it because for it to work you need to be certain that you have identified the exact problem and need of your prospect. The deal was closed before entering the closing stage. You have already clearly identified the pain (maybe unknown until this point) and you have the expert cure, who would say no to a cure? No one, that is right. All that remains is to sign.
- Urgency/ Take away close.
You have worked hard, you have prepared the destiny course-changing package, and now it’s time to shake hands (bump elbows or head nod). You want to infuse your offer in a sense of urgency. The problem that you are solving must have a high cost if remains unresolved. Your trust in your product’s value does not leave space for hesitation and indecision.
- The Benjamin Franklin closing strategy.
Whenever you hear something is the lines of “I want to think about” is the moment to push over the fence your client with a pros and cons layout. This strategy is exactly that, inviting your client to make an order in a bunch of facts that because unorganised leaves your client undecided and confused. Be natural and explain the benefit of going through the cons with you, what better moment to dive into any doubt, or concerns than when your presentation is fresh into their mind? “Usually when people think about our product, they have questions we are best placed to answer” “Sometimes people say they need to think about it to be polite because they are not convinced of the benefit, is that what’s happening here, I’m a big boy I can take it!
- The alternative/ options strategy.
Simple, you give the prospect the option to choose between different bundles (remember your bundles we have talked about?), it would sound like this: after looking together at the x problem we have agreed that the y is the solution. Which package would you prefer to start with: the YA or YB?
- The sharp angle.
They ask you for an adjustment you offer them an adjustment. It would sound something like this: yes, I can offer a price reduction over a longer period of contract.
Follow-up and retention- Clear sequence of events.
Many good deals and partnerships are lost because of a lack of or poor follow-up.
By email, through social media, calling, or by a handwritten note. We know that 80% of sales will see at least 5 follows up, so it’s a good idea to use different channels. Ask your prospect what their preferred one is and know and lead each conversation you have with a clear next stop.
Tip: If they’ve seen too much of you and you’re concerned you’re losing them, try removing yourself from the equation by using marketing tools like an active campaign, video message, (Personal creative non-buying related follow up) or bringing in another team member or subject matter expert to inject fresh credibility.
When done well, a post-sale follow-up reinforces your relationship and is proof of your genuine interest in your client’s success. Were you left without a deal? Follow up anyway!
The follow-up should be creative and consistent. Clients work with people who make buying easy and next steps simple. Use reliable apps and CRM to schedule your follow-up emails and calls.
The general rules of following up:
- Keep doing it
- Be consistent.
- Be punctual.
- Be creative.
- Use more than one channel of communication.
- Be relevant.
- Make clear your next stop and the outcome of each interaction.
- Use the information you are told in the previous communication.
Remember! Getting new clients is exciting but keeping sight of the strategies to retain them is where the success of your business lies.
- Build your relationships: knowing the pain of your client has opened the door but there is much more to know besides solving one problem. Slowing things down and putting aside time to have meaningful conversations of future opportunities discovery are crucial.
- Set your feedback systems right: loop it! Asking for feedback is the only way you will know what your clients think and feel about your work and the results of your agreements.
- Get your clients used to having you as part of their strategic team, the earlier the better.
- Be proactive – keep updated with the trends in your industry, do your research, keep on top of news, innovation, and insights of value to your existing and potential clients, and participate in conventions, webinars, and other online events. You will naturally know what your client’s future challenges will be. Design your business, deals, and packages to resolve not only today’s problem but tomorrow’s too. Your clients should look up to you as the expert in your field, the master of your domain an agent of change..
“People buy from people they know, like and trust. If they don’t yet know, like, or trust you; or you aren’t representing a brand they already, know, like, and trust, you MUST have a story, solution, and case studies that they will relate to (know), like, and trust!”