The same information gets drilled into salespeople’s heads all the time: always be closing; the pitch is everything. A well-refined pitch and a goal-oriented attitude are, without a doubt, crucial to selling effectively, but a great sales process means more than just a signed contract.
Treating the sales cycle with care leads to higher closing rates, but it also can result in larger sales and longer-lasting customers. The sales process is likely your first sustained interaction with a customer, so making a good impression is key. Letting your customer know early on that you plan to treat him or her—and his or her account—with care and respect pays dividends down the line.
To treat your leads with the care it takes to succeed, you need to consider every aspect of your selling style—and its impact on your prospects.
1. Don’t overload. When it comes to locking down leads, one of the most common mistakes salespeople make is taking on too much at once. It can be tempting to try to go after every lead that crosses your desk, but this strategy will do little for you in the long run.
Simply put, no one sells as well when they’re overworked, or when their mind is on other things. It’s nearly impossible to truly convince clients you care about them if your efforts are focused elsewhere. Always maintain a manageable workload, and give the clients in front of you your full attention.
2. Make contact easy. Communication failures are some of the most alienating qualities to potential clients. Salespeople who respond slowly, or are difficult to schedule calls with, are the ones most likely to drop leads. Future clients want to know that once they’re invested in your product, you’ll be available right when they need to address any issues.
If you can’t be hyperattentive at every part of the sales process, employ technology to help you. I personally use Calendar to make client scheduling as easy as possible, letting people just click on the available time slots that work for both of us. Find the technology that would be most useful to your clients, and go from there.
3. Emphasize customer success. If you want to sell something to someone, appeal to their selfish side. As much as a certain sale might benefit your business, customers want to know that their needs will be met first and foremost.
When selling something, constantly take note of what your prospects’ goals, missions, and needs are. In between calls or emails, think about ways you could position your product to best fit what your customer is wanting. A product that fulfills needs is a product everyone’s going to want.
4. Learn what “no” means. When a customer says “no”— to you, your product, or your pitch—figure out exactly what that means. Far too often, salespeople hear the word “no” and consider a certain lead dead. Always push your prospects to allow you a bit of a postmortem. Probe what, exactly, led them to turn away.
Oftentimes, leads turn down pitches simply for internal reasons—they thought they needed something they didn’t, they faced new budgetary restrictions, or a directive from upper management changed the company’s direction. Those “nos” don’t reflect much on you, your product, or your pitch. Instead, try to focus on leads that turned you down for reasons related to the sales process itself. What can you learn from those rejections, and how can you take what you’ve learned to improve your process?
5. Be transparent. Nothing turns a lead away faster than a reneged promise or offer. When you’re pitching, ensure that everything you say can be backed up all the way through. If you’re making a unique offer, clear it with others in your company to make sure it flies. Practicing top-down transparency is a great way to ensure that a consistent and appealing message is conveyed throughout every step of the sales process.
So much of sales is about attitude, demeanor, and treating your leads with respect and care. As helpful as it is to utilize specific strategies, you might want to start with a finished product—a careful, relaxed, and successful sale—and work backward.
What do you need to do to make that a reality? How do you need to adjust your style? When you plan a sale, keep your final goal in mind, but make sure you’re treating the process itself with the same level of attention.