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Tips for Closing the Sale: Six Game Changers

What is the most important part of being in sales? It is excelling at closing the sale. 

After more than a decade of being a full-time and fractional Chief Revenue Officer (FCRO), coaching so many sales professionals, running training on sales closure techniques, and advising clients on what they need to do to accelerate revenue growth, there are six tips for closing the sale that are deal closing game changers.

However, first - let’s just get it out on the table. The sales profession has changed. Marketing has changed. Servicing customers has changed. And, the buying process has changed. Buyers of solutions and services, especially business to business, self educate once they have identified that they have a specific need and now begins the scramble to engage them before the competition does.

Sales professionals used to help individuals identify they had a need and while they still do, most people know they need something these days before they engage with a business. When “the lead” decides to take action the journey often leads them to chat to get answers to specific questions. There, they get the joy of working with a chatbot or often someone with limited knowledge who just tries to qualify the prospect following a one size fits all script. If the lead is still interested in doing business with the company after their chat session, the lead may request a call, fill out a form, or try to call the main line assuming the company even has a phone number. At the same time, a sales person is usually assigned and often times an auto generated template email goes out without specifically addressing what was gathered during discovery. This is an all too frequent b2b buyer journey and experience these days. 

By the time the lead is engaged with a sales professional, they are often frustrated and not as excited as they originally were. Therefore, the top skills needed by the sales professional are the ability to sympathize, communicate, and answer questions to help to validate the buyer's assessment, set their mind at ease, and perhaps recommend something better or put together a proposal. At the right time, the sales professional needs to create urgency with the lead while continuing to build trust. Then, their job is to convert the lead to a sale won as quickly as possible and transition to customer success, while making the experience pleasant for the buyer during the handoff process.

There is nothing worse than investing a lot of time and energy to acquire a customer that's a great fit and poof - they disappear because of a poor buying experience!

To minimize the risk of this happening at your company, here are six tips for closing the sale that will increase your win rates and overall success.

Tips for Closing The Sale #1: Be Open to but Weary of Sales Advice

Each day that ends in “Y”, I get the “Why?” question. Here it is:

Our company spends a lot of money on marketing and to acquire leads and our growth is way slower than expected. Why do we close so few of them?

There could be a number of reasons. After conducting many revenue impact assessments for companies who have struggled to close sales or just cannot seem to hit their stride with any level of consistent revenue growth, there are five common issues.

  1. They don’t make it clear what their sales process is when they engage new leads.
  2. They sell what and not why, and even the what is not 100% clear.
  3. They avoid speaking with the prospect instead of requiring or encouraging it. 
  4. They don’t build the trust during discovery that ultimately leads to winning the sale.
  5. They treat all prospects the same and they are not.

The marketing team, your partner in the new customer acquisition process, has identified a marketing qualified lead (MQL). There are many sales GTM models where it is unnecessary for the lead to speak with sales, but the majority require some type of engagement with a sales professional. And often, especially in small businesses, there is no defined sales process once that MQL has been identified. This is often the result of a lack of sales leadership, sales training, and an understanding of how to nurture the lead through the customer journey. 

Not knowing what to do leadership teams start asking questions. Oftentimes, they start doing their own homework to try to help fix the problem, when it is actually one or more of the above issues. They think there is some new magic trick and turn to Google, LinkedIn, or Instagram to try to educate themselves. They search for help and what do they find? They find a blog post from a software provider that has been written by a marketing intern who has never sold a thing or perhaps a ghost writer for SEO purposes. The marketing intern or ghost writer did a great job as it came back at the top of the search results. Good job for the software provider, but it is the wrong advice for your company.  And, its another reason why Arc is gaining so much momentum and excitement.

Therefore, the first and most important tip is to proceed with caution on what you consume. If you do not have someone who can help you, train your sales team, or provide leadership on staff, then consider finding an experienced and proven sales growth strategist to help you maximize revenue growth and deliver predictable results.

Tips for Closing The Sale #2: Take Pride in your Communication

Depending on your GTM model, communication from a sales or business development team is often the first real interaction a potential lead has with anyone at your company. Far too often the first email that is sent to a lead is an absolute disaster. It would get a failing grade in any business school class and would make an elementary school English teacher recommend summer school. Often, it looks like this.

hi <name of lead> - I wanted to connect about <insert your company name here> and set up a call with our CEO to discuss how great my company is. Here is his schedule. Pick a time. thanks.

Since the beginning of time sentences start with a capital letter. It might be ok to use a small letter texting your friends or on the socials. However, any lead that is considering doing business with your company will absolutely question you and your company if your email looks like it was written by a first grader (no offense first graders).  

Next, please hear this! No lead on the planet cares what you (the salesperson) wants. We know - you don’t need to tell us. You want to close the sale so you can earn a commission, to keep your job, and keep your sales manager off your back because you shifted a lead to the “closed/won” column.

Here is your availability? Well, it is clear why you have so much. 

If you are trying to sell something to someone, why would they give you their time if you have not at a minimum told them how you will address a pressing need?

Written to convert at a higher rate:

Good morning <lead First Name>

After spending time on <insert company name> website, you can easily convert 35% more visitors to leads and grow revenue immediately. Would that interest you, your sales team, and shareholders? If the answer is yes, included is my availability. Please select a time this week when you have 15-20 minutes. If none work, please suggest alternative times this week that are better for you. If you are eager to hear how and would like to chat sooner, just call my mobile number. Thank you.

Obviously, sequences to follow up should be in place, but you’ll find more conversions quickly on your first communication when it is written well, creates some urgency, and addresses why the lead would benefit from taking time to speak with you.

Always remember the age old saying, "You never get a second chance to make a first impression." Make it a lasting one for the right reasons.

Tips for Closing The Sale #3: Personalization DOES Matter

I joined a LinkedIn live event on Strategies to Create New Revenue. I arrived late and heard a speaker say that no one cares about the personalization of emails anymore. I wanted to send him a quick note that started with the words “Hi There” and then “Not True”.

In fact, nothing could be further from the truth so I left the event. See Tips for Closing the Sale #1 above for the reason why I made the decision to quickly leave.

The only reason a salesperson would think personalization doesn't matter is because it takes a little extra effort. And, effort level is almost always the difference between being average or elite at ANYTHING.

Let’s think through a basic scenario - a dinner date night where you made a reservation and requested a quiet table. You go to one restaurant and check in. The maitre de says, "Hi There - we’ll seat you as soon as your table is ready". You go to another restaurant and the maitre de says, "Good evening <insert name>, thank you for choosing our restaurant tonight. We received your request to sit in a quiet location and our team has a great table for you. It will be ready in a couple of minutes. You are welcome to wait here or if you would like to grab a drink, Heather will be happy to get you one of your favorites, and John will be your waiter tonight".  

Which restaurant makes you feel more welcomed and sparks more of a connection? Which is more memorable and are you likely to speak highly of within your network? Which one will you likely spend more money with including a better tip to the staff?  If the food is comparable with both, what restaurant are you likely to select regularly for future date nights?

Personalization is the difference between top performers and sales hacks. Non-personalization is a volume play to create a facade that volume equals results.

Pay attention to the human elements of forming relationships with customers as emotion is the #1 reason someone buys something and they are 40% more likely to buy when they have a positive experience during their buyer journey.

Tips for Closing The Sale #4: Stop the Annoying Automated Outreach  

I love Hubspot. I am a big fan and have been a customer for over 15 years. My clients have benefited greatly by using their CRM platform.   

Due to our growth, I decided to upgrade to the Starter CRM Suite on the 2nd of January, paid, and started setting things up.  A couple of days later, I then got this automatically generated email titled Need some help? 

Given my business, the mental process I went through reading it looked like this.

  1. From the title of the email, perhaps they are going to assist me in getting set up which would be great - I'll open it and read more. 
  2. Ok, that is not what this email is, it’s a sales email.
  3. No, I am not taking a deeper look - I have been a customer for 24 hours. Made the decision already.
  4. You said your team works with small businesses, but you however don’t, which means your team doesn’t, right?
  5. You work on the Enterprise team and it seems like you are trying to upsell me enterprise solutions - just bought a small business package.
  6. If I am not looking to buy an enterprise solution, then you’d be happy to help me, by introducing me to someone else who can help me as a small business (and clearly that person is not on your team).
  7. There are some wonderful end of year discounting promotions that have run into next year and you can get me a great deal - perhaps I paid too much and could have paid less? 
  8. In the future, why pay the standard rate when I could call up this guy and get a deal?

Automation and triggers can work really well, but without accurate data and systems that are communicating well, it's a bad look.

Plus, if you offer a very valuable solution for any sales or marketing organization, package and sell it that way. Don’t offer a discount if you don’t need to via a blind email, sell the value confidently.

Tips for Closing The Sale #5:  Don’t Harass Your Prospects and Customers

The old Rule of 7 in sales and marketing is it often takes seven or more touches before a sale is made. There is much debate today that number has increased by 50-100% from 10-14 touches.  

In the last year, I have found that the majority of companies where I have requested a newsletter or to join a group email me not every few days, but EVERY SINGLE DAY. I called it the nagging parent approach.  When you were younger, did you like it when your parents continuously nagged you to do chores, fold laundry, or put your dishes away? Well, now it's become a sales strategy - who would have known?

There is no decision maker at any company that wants to get badgered daily with triggered, useless emails that have little or no value. Now, add sending a text and a call. C’mon now! The Rule of 7 is at risk of being modified to after 7 days your prospect will never want to engage with your company again.  

Any experienced business professional knows that the salesperson who is calling you and texting you multiple times doesn’t sell much or is likely not going to be your sales rep for long because he/she is tracking behind on their quota. He/she might even be on a get well plan or being held to some volume standard that an immature sales organization read in the wrong Sales Playbook. You also know that they will be quick to discount. 

Without fail, the salespeople who set the most meetings with qualified leads, who define the agenda, who ask the best questions, who talk the least, and who have been taught how to close sales, are the top performers. Sales professionals who seem desperate usually are.

Tips for Closing The Sale #6: The Details Matter 

At some point early in their careers, most sales professionals have heard the comment that there's a reason they have two ears and one mouth. It is so important to listen more and talk less to gather all the details that matter. When a sales person talks too much, the average sales cycle time to close increases or they talk themselves right out of the sale.  

What are the best ways to gather the details, leave a positive impression, and convert leads to customers faster?

  1. Ask great open ended questions throughout the sales process.
  2. Recap meetings methodically and meticulously.
  3. Streamline communications so they are crisp and crystal clear.
  4. Create urgency by setting expectations and next steps.
  5. Ask trial close questions whenever possible.
  6. Don’t ever EVER ask the question do you have any more questions?
  7. Always genuinely ask the question at the end of the call: did this conversation meet your needs?  If you don't correct it now, you won’t get the chance.
  8. Explain the path forward to make the purchase and then set expectations for what will follow after that (post sale).
  9. Do not offer up contracts for their review - you open the review up to negotiation, delays, and risk.
  10. Close with confidence not discounts.

Sadly, too many of us have been burnt or have experienced buyer's remorse. The best sales professionals understand that the difference between a new customer buying from your company or a competitor is often how they feel they have been treated throughout the buyer journey. Done correctly, you will not have to ask for as many sales, the customer will ask you how to get started.

Embrace every opportunity to speak with the potential new customer (video meetings, demos, calls, meetings in person) and develop relationships. You’ll be amazed at how these tips to close the sale will be game changers that will positively impact your close percentages and help you replace cold calls with referrals.

Lastly, be thankful and appreciative that your company and marketing team invests in lead generation, that you have a clearly defined product or service that solves a problem, and you have the ability to create lasting relationships. Your new customers all have the same goals as you do. They want to be a customer for life as much as you want them to be. Embrace it and help them feel confident that they will be. 

Happy selling!