BlogHow to close deals and avoid tyre-kickers, price-pushers and get-backers
How to close deals and avoid tyre-kickers, price-pushers and get-backers
Posted on: December 21, 2021
Reading Time: 8 minutes
How to close deals and avoid tyre-kickers, price-pushers and get-backers
Here’s the thing.
How we sell determines our close rate. In a big way.
So, when The Miller Heimann Group studied thousands of B2B organisations across multiple industries, they found that ‘the top 20% of salespeople account for more than 50% of an organization’s revenue.’
We are about to share a more efficient way to sell.
By which we mean, a way that qualifies leads, assesses buying intent, adds value, lays a clear path out towards the sale and kicks into touch any thought of features and benefits.
Fancy sticking around to hear more?
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How sales has always worked
The thing is that sales has been broken for a long time.
Sales Insights Labs asked B2B buyers to characterize salespeople. Drowning out a handful of positives (‘friendly’, ‘trusted’, ’knowledgable’) there was a tidal wave of pejorative terms (‘pushy’, ‘annoying’, ‘greedy’, ‘selfish’, ‘aggressive’, ‘dishonest’, ‘arrogant’).
And if we look at the traditional sales process, it isn’t too hard to see where this impression comes from.
Cast your mind back: have you ever felt confident that you had a deal waiting to be closed only to find out at the timing or budget or offering just wasn’t right?
How does this happen?
The problem is one of process rather than bad luck. In a very real sense, we often create the conditions for deals falling through.
It’s something that the Harvard Business Review noticed a few years ago when it commented that, ‘the majority of behaviours that salespeople engage in hinder the likelihood of a sale.’
Let’s take a look.
It starts with haphazard prospecting.
Inconsistent leads inevitably result in a lack of real opportunities to follow up.
But prospecting alone is not to blame – as you can see in the flow chart below, the usual next step on following up a prospect is to pitch or probe.
The pitch and the probe are sometimes cast as polar opposites, but they are actually very similar.
A pitch is to immediately launch into the service, discounts, benefits company values and so on.
The probe is to immediately start asking about pain points, what keeps you up at night, biggest challenges and so on.
Both are inappropriate.
In neither situation does the prospect know the salesperson – there’s no trust established. Yet the salesperson assumes it is ok to ask highly personal questions or to dish out information without establishing an interest.
There really is only one place to go after a pitch or a probe – and that’s into full-blown presentation mode.
But, the prospect hasn’t really seen any value yet – so objections rise to the surface (time’s not right, can you cut your prices, I’ll get back to you etc.).
And objections can push your back against the wall, leaving you with only one way out: the hard close (which tends to close out rather than open doors).
A new way of selling
Let’s take a look at a new way of selling.
A way that can give you total control over each sales opportunity and allow you to avoid most objections.
A way that will stop you wasting time on unqualified and disinterested prospects.
A way to add value so you can sell at higher prices.
First the ground rules…
If you can’t add real value from the start, you are simply not worth talking to (from the prospect’s point of view – we know you’re lovely!)
Your sales process must be repeatable – if you can’t describe it in four to five concise steps, then you don’t actually have a process.
That’s it! Nothing too hard there.
So, let’s break it down into seven simple steps.
Step #1: Own the sales process
It starts not with a pitch or a probe but with demonstrating insight.
Next it moves on to a disqualification process to ensure you sell only to those interested and able to buy. Note you are still yet to sell.
And finally, we still do not pitch or present or convince or persuade. Instead, we demonstrate clearly that we can solve a problem.
In between each stage the NEXT arrows represent the glue of clear next steps. The journey between stages is where things can easily fall apart if the next steps are not clearly signposted and stuck to. Just like a sandwich, the bits in between are just as important as the bread and butter.
Step #2: Disown the pitch
Drop that pitch because fit is always much more important than interest.
Your job should not be to generate interest but to find fit (and a PowerPoint slide deck is not going to help you do this).
Your buyer is not looking for a salesperson. As Salesforce discovered, ‘79% of buyers say it is absolutely critical or very important to interact with a salesperson who is a trusted adviser – not just a sales rep – who adds value to their business.’
Step #3: Hold back on that probe
If you have not added value through insight, you have not earned the right to start probing into the nitty gritty of a business or someone’s role.
The fact is that probing too early does not signal your interest – it brands you as an annoyance. High-level buyers are far too busy to spend time teaching a salesperson about their business. And if you try and teach them about their business you run the risk of looking like an impertinent fool.
Insight is the key to opening up prospects and gaining the credentials to probe. Share insight and the real conversations can begin.
Step #4: Get disqualifying
Far too often as businesses we work on nurturing or qualifying our prospects but spend no time at all disqualifying those who do not fit.
Any time spent with a prospect that’s a bad fit, is time wasted.
According to a sales research organisation, Sales Insight Labs, nearly three-quarters of salespeople found that less than half of their prospects were actually a good fit.
The quicker you can filter these out, the more time you have to close realistic deals.
Step #5: Stop presenting – start solving
This one may hurt.
Very few of your prospects even care about the most carefully presented features and benefits.
They could not give a flying $%&*.
Funnily enough, what they care about is solving the challenges that they face. (And you should, of course, disqualify anyone whose problems you can’t solve.)
Case studies are your best vehicle to drive home that you can solve problems – make good use of them to set yourself apart. There are big wins if you can, as Forrester Research found that, ‘88% of buyers believe that salespeople do not understand their problems enough to be able to help solve them’.
Step #6: Consistent prospecting
The second you stop prospecting is the moment you stack up problems further down the sales pipeline.
Remember, as many as 50% of the prospects you hit may not have a fit.
Keep the good ones coming.
Step #7: Remember these three killer closing questions
What is the challenge that you face costing you?
Your value to prospects is defined by the value of the challenges that they face. For example, if the challenge is costing £1M then a solution that costs £100,000 suddenly appears like an incredibly reasonable spend.
Is solving the challenge a priority for you right now?
You need to know whether solving the challenge is worth the prospect’s time and energy at the moment. If not, you need to focus elsewhere.
What would you like to do next?
This question is ideal for when the sales is almost at a close. The discovery process is over and you need to understand exactly where the prospect is, in terms of their desire to work with you. This question places the prospect seemingly in the driving seat – you are allowing them to close the sale for you.
No more tyre kickers, get backers or price pushers – just more closed deals
That’s our vision of a new sales process based on value and collaborating rather than pitching and presenting.