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Closing Deals Faster Requires that Your Sales and Marketing Alignment is Tuned for Performance.
This post we will discuss closing deals faster and is part of a series to help B2B organizations improve sales and marketing cooperation.
Part one was about making sure you have the right information to get started. In part two, you’ll learn how to use hand-to-hand combat required for the B2B sales teams and executives to close deals.
What do you do with a struggling salespeople or sales team? It’s a problem that’s vexed corporations and start-ups; sales managers and CEOs.
It’s hard to know when to pull the trigger on removing underperforming sales reps when it could be that the staff just needs a little guidance, encouragement, or training to get back on track.
A little professional nudge in the right direction is a more economical choice over the time-consuming and expensive process of hiring replacement sales reps.
Many sales professionals would rather give their struggling salespeople a chance to improve and bring their results up to company standards.
In this article, Part II of my three-part series, I shall share with you an approach that, after over 20 years in enterprise sales (including a start at IBM), I know will work, provided you apply it in a consistent manner.
The approach I am about to describe to close deals faster can ensure success to any company with decent (i.e., not necessarily exceptional) product offerings in a relevant product or service category (i.e., not necessarily a recognized hot category).
Furthermore, I will make the following assertion: Unless your company is a bona fide leader in an established, growing product category, every time you lead with your product (as most software vendors still do), I can assure you that you are likely to fail in today’s market. Did you read Part I: Go Here.
Start Closing Deals Faster with a Provocation-based Selling
In this section, I want to cover three topics related to the hand-to-hand combat required for high-tech sales teams and executives to close deals:
- what do you say to the ‘big dog’ to get them interested in your potential solution?
- what are the main priorities for marketing to support the field?
- how do you take account of the differing interests of the various target constituencies you must deal with in typical enterprise-level sales cycles?
Sales Process Model to Win More Deals
Selling complex solutions into an emerging market means selling services-led offers, where consulting and systems integration, both from the lead vendor and from its partners, help to backfill what is as yet an incomplete product offering.
And, in order to ‘cross the chasm’ into a first mainstream market, the target customer is likely to be a line-of-business executive or manager responsible for solving critical business problems through the use of IT solutions.
In this model, it is critical to establish deep lines of communication with the customer to set their expectations and gain their support. This, in turn, requires a very different sales model from that of selling an established product.
Here is the model for selling emerging solutions that will help you close deals faster:
Time needed: 30 days.
How to close deals faster with a proven sales process model.
- Get a personal introduction to the line-of-business executive.
Everyone knows to call high, but high people have elaborate defense mechanisms to keep salespeople out. The only reliable way to get past these defenses is by way of a personal introduction. Delegate this problem upward into the organization until someone knows someone who can pave the way. Before getting the introduction, it is fine to meet with lesser-ranking people in the organization to gather intelligence, but the sales cycle does not formally begin until this meeting. I use LinkedIn almost every day. LinkedIn is the social channel to be if you want to network and connect with other professionals to find business opportunities, both personally and B2B partnerships. Connect with me here on LinkedIn.
- Discuss war stories. These are not customer references.
These are not customer references – it is too early in the market’s development to have many, or even any, of these – but instead are problems that the other companies in the industry are struggling with, and perhaps ones where the vendor is already at work trying to help. The point here is to position the company as having knowledgeable people who have seen the problems before and are bringing new technology to their solution. This also provides an opportunity to establish empathy early in the relationship.
- Offer a diagnostic.
Having positioned your people as knowledgeable, the vendor’s first offer is to have them come in and take a look at the prospect’s situation. This can be positioned as a mini-study for a fee or as the front end of a business proposal detailing a complete solution to the critical problem. In either case, the intent is to create a valuable deliverable for the line-of-business executive regardless of whether they purchase a product from them or not. In my case, I offer a FREE comprehensive gap analysis (marketing assessment). The assessment helps uncover problem areas and shows the low hanging fruit to help the company boost performance and sales.
- Use the diagnostic process to identify and engage with all the players in the buying process (see Section A above).
This will allow you to discover a sponsor, determine who the power sponsor is, uncover much of your competition, learn about the in-house efforts that compete as well, and in general get the lay of the land. It is important to remember that this is like a passport into the organization to get up close and personal – more like a visa since it only lasts a short time – so the opportunity should be exploited for multiple purposes.
- Draft – but be reluctant to submit – a sales proposal
As long as you are drafting the proposal, you have permission to go back to the organization for more information, during which you can do more selling. Once you submit it, you have to take your chances from there. Try to defer submittal until you are confident you have won the deal. Though this might feel counter-intuitive to sales teams and executives under pressure to make quota, this is a critical game to play at this stage of the relationship. One celebrated example of this tactic at work was Ross Perot’s tactic of holding a ‘pre-proposal review,’ in which the vendor’s executives and account team would present their proposal to the customer’s executive team as a trial balloon to obtain their ‘feedback.’ If the customer showed that they were satisfied with the proposal and corroborating information, the Perot team would ask for the order then and there, and in this way, they almost never got to the formal ‘proposal’ stage. They always asked for the proposal documents to be returned before they left the meeting, on the realistic basis that once the proposal is submitted, all control over the decision process passes to the customer.
- Construct the proposal in three phases.
Phase One to close deals faster is what the vendor can deliver right away. It is normally heavily weighted toward services. Phase Two is what it can deliver within the year. This is normally built around the next release of the system. Phase Three is everything else the customer wants or needs which the vendor cannot supply within a year and which, hopefully, can be deferred. If they cannot be deferred, then the vendor must refer in a partner, even a competitor, to keep the relationship of a trusted advisor.
I’ll drive into my final approach in Part III and discuss specific marketing activities to help marketing leaders support the sales force and boost sales and close deals quicker.
To make this sales process work, the field needs significant support in these four areas:
So what did you think about how to close deals? I would love to hear your thoughts!
Have something to say about your thoughts on how to close deals?
Read part III: Go Here.
Sales and marketing must direct their efforts at the same prospects and be wholly aligned on decisions and pricing. Together, sales and marketing need to create comprehensive buyer personas to target their ideal customer better, increase acquisition, and create targeted ads and pitches that are symbiotic.
Should sales and marketing be one department?
Sales and marketing should be separate departments within your organization. Marketing is all about getting the word out and explaining to people the benefits of your products and services to increase interest and visibility. Most importantly, marketing is about driving inquiries and leads to sales.
What sales needs from marketing?
Sales qualified leads (SQLs): Lead scoring assign points to leads based on their interactions with your website email content, event, and others. Real-time alerts for hot leads: Website visitor tracking software alerts sales reps when active, qualified leads on your website include email alerts too.
What is sales enablement?
Sales enablement provides the sales organization with the information, content, and tools that help salespeople sell more effectively. The foundation of sales enablement is giving the salespeople what they need to engage the buyer successfully throughout the buying process.
Are you not getting the results you had hoped for with your current marketing agency? Let the experts at this marketing agency in Denver, Colorado help you generate more web traffic, convert more leads, and close more sales by industry. Our team knows just what it takes to build and maintain a proven marketing strategy that drives high-quality leads. For more information, check out our marketing services or contact us to schedule a free consultation to discuss your needs and our services.