When you finish a sales call and are all excited because you know that you nailed it, it’s quite a rush. You managed to truly connect with the prospect and had a mutually beneficial conversation. At this point, you feel the customer is ready to close the deal and so are you.
This is that precious moment when both the seller and the buyer are enthusiastic about the sale. Unfortunately, this moment can quickly fade as you watch the buyer’s enthusiasm go from being a match made in heaven to being in the “friend zone”. As the salesperson, you need to close the deal before you fall into the friend zone and the deal stalls. Once you hit the friend zone, it is dramatically more difficult to close the deal.
Here are six strategies to help you close the deal and stay out of the dreaded friend zone:
1. Use content marketing
Most B2B customers research their topic and have made 70% of their decision before contacting the salesperson. Content marketing can give your prospects value added content so that they can research and learn about your products. As consumers have more options with products and services, they can become overwhelmed by how many different companies are offering similar products and services.
By using content marketing as part of your sales strategy, you can allow your reader to learn more about your products and services before talking to a salesperson. In many cases, content marketing can turn a cold prospect into a warm prospect simply by providing better education.
Content marketing can be one of the biggest factors in a prospect’s decision-making process, and can reduce the length of the sales cycle and help you stay out of the friend zone.
Here are some content marketing tips that will help you shorten your sales cycle:
• Make sure content marketing is part of your lead nurturing program. According to Customer Experience Matrix, companies that use lead nurturing can expect a 23% shorter sales cycle.
• Use testimonials to allow the prospect to get over their fear, uncertainty, and doubt by providing real evidence as to the success of your product or service.
• Show off your best work. Create videos, photos, and case studies to show off your actual work.
• Provide further education using white papers and e-books. These provide more in-depth reading to show how well you understand the problem your prospect has and the solution that you provide.
2. Know your facts
Today’s buyers have access to a plethora of information. They have typically researched the products or services they want to buy before ever talking to a salesperson. This is why you must get all the facts about your product and service in order to be prepared for the conversation and negotiation. This will allow you to appear more knowledgeable to the customer and will help you keep sales momentum going.
You can also include competitive information in your fact-finding mission. If you have this information in front of you during the sales process, you can use it to validate your pricing, features, and more.
3. Eliminate fear, uncertainty, and doubt
Imagine for a moment the fear, uncertainty, and doubt (F.U.D) that might go through a customer’s mind if you give them enough time to reconsider what they are doing. They might start wondering if your product or service will do what you said it would. Then they might question whether they need it at all or possibly whether they can afford it. If you give them long enough, they might back out of the deal altogether because they can’t deal with the F.U.D.
In order to fight F.U.D.:
• You need to acknowledge what the prospect is feeling and not argue with them over their concerns.
• It can be helpful to introduce them to people that will support them once they’ve purchased the product.
• You can show them testimonials that show the success stories of others.
• Case studies can be great tools to provide documentation which answers frequently asked questions that new customers may have. They also show how other people have been successful using your product or service.
• Don’t try to oversell someone during this phase. By promising the world, you can actually lose credibility and increase F.U.D.
4. Know your value destroyers
If you’ve been in sales for very long, you will find that there are certain regions, products, rebates, and more that will destroy your margins. Once you know those value destroyers, you can work with management to remove them from your future sales strategy.
Here are a few value destroyers that can harm sales:
• Your company’s success is based on large contracts with only a few customers. If this is the case, your buyer might be concerned that if there’s much customer turnover your company may no longer be viable.
• Your company is dependent on a few key employees. This is likely to be of some concern for your prospects if they find out you only have a few key employees.
• You only have one product or service. If your company doesn’t have any plans to add more than one product or service, there may be some concern about stability. It’s important that your business at least be planning for future products and services to alleviate these concerns.
5. Close the deal faster
Your goal as the salesperson is to make sure that your prospect can purchase the product using a streamlined process that makes it easy for you to close the deal. If you had a few simple ways to close the deal faster you would do it, wouldn’t you?
Simple tips for closing the deal more quickly:
• One simple technique that you can use to improve the sales process is to get your customer to agree with you using small steps. By using questions at the end of your sentence like “shouldn’t you?”, “doesn’t it?”, or “wouldn’t you?” you can get the person to say yes to your small question before getting close to the real deal. It’s important that these tie-down questions be part of normal conversation and not just a plug you stick in the conversation for effect.
• Remember the question, “What’s in it for me?” Help your prospect answer this question so they fully understand the benefits of the product or service that they are buying. Prospects will have a more difficult time making the decision if they don’t understand where they will end up at the end the process. They won’t move toward the promise of a bright ending if they can’t see how to get there.
• Create a sense of urgency with your client. In some cases, you might have to offer concessions to refocus their attention back onto the sale. This might involve a greater discount, longer net terms, or longer service agreement; you have to know what you can give in order to close the deal.
• Be an incredible listener. Listen to what the prospect is saying; understand their pain and what you are doing to help alleviate it. If there is pleasure that you can add, focus on that as a way of continuing the conversation. Remember it’s not about you, it’s about their needs.
6. Use CRM
When it comes to closing the deal faster, having the information you need at your fingertips, and eliminating fear and doubt, CRM can help. Some businesses have been able to shorten their sales process by 25% with a CRM.
Mobility is another reason to use CRM. Using laptops, tablets, smart phones and more, sales reps are able to provide mobile video and audio presentations as well as have the information they need at their fingertips. According to a Nucleus Research Survey, out of the 74% of the companies that use mobile CRM, they’ve reported an increase in sales team productivity of 14.6%. Close to a third of these reported productivity increases of more than 20%.
By having the access to the information they need combined with mobility, sales reps are able to close the deal while still staying ahead of the friend zone.
First, start with proper content marketing. Don’t forget, as the salesperson you can have input into the content that goes on your website. Sales staff frequently communicates with customers the most and understands their needs the best. This understanding gives you the ability to contribute to better content marketing. Be aware of the content that is on your site and on competitor’s websites as well. Know the facts about your products and services so that you can converse intelligently with a well-educated prospect. Use these facts to eliminate fear, uncertainty, and doubt and know your value destroyers upfront, so you can have a plan in place if your customer mentions them. Use all these tools (including CRM) to help you close the deal faster and stay out of the dreaded “friend zone”.