The sales pipeline is one of the most critical components of any business, but the process is often neglected. As companies continue to ride the digital wave, focusing on emerging techniques, it may be easy to fall behind in traditional processes like closing sales. Even if a business owner has a salesforce, they must be responsible for effectively training them and still perform business negotiations at a high level. This article is designed to help companies better understand how to close leads in the sales pipeline, directly contributing to the bottom-line.
Researching the Customer
Many sales representatives these days have been trained in terms of volume. If they can acquire more coverage, even a small conversion rate will be enough to sustain a salary. This thinking will only result in adequate performance at best; every customer must be researched at least in a macroeconomic level.
In industries where the customer acquisition cost and lifetime value is high, this research is likely already performed. The lack of research emerges in industries where the lifetime value is much smaller. However, customers may still be segmented based on their demographics and psychographics that will enable a tailored sales process.
Potential customers in any industry want to know that they can trust your company. If you are a new e-commerce website, they may have skepticism about providing their credit card information or refund policy. A service provider may need to instill confidence of their services by providing references, or showing previously completed work.
The problem that arises in the sales process, is that many people fail to establish this trust early on. Trust can develop from these strategies:
- Understanding the customer by researching them.
- Having a slow, controlled tone matching theirs.
- Avoid words with negative connotations and do not lie to them.
- Meet in person when possible, calling is second and e-mail third.
- Tell them how you’ve helped similar customers like themselves.
Quantifying the Process
For an existing company looking to successfully close more leads, it may come down to testing at some degree. Learn ways to track, measure and record the entire sales process. There is no excuse for not knowing why a sale is lost and the reason can be assigned a variable. Place the information in a general pivot table or chart and understand where the pain points are.
Use a CRM Software
There are many customer relationship software suites available on the market ranging from freemium to premium price levels. Be use to use a mainstream CRM software that any career salesperson will know how to use. Also ensure that the data is backed-up regularly, even if it is stored on their cloud. Your company does not want salespeople to be learning how to work the CRM system when they should be closing leads and don’t be surprised if that intern accidentally deletes your contacts.
Not all salespeople are the same, just like not all accountants are the same. Some accountants specialize in tax accounting and others in financial reporting or work as auditors. There are generally two classifications of salespeople, inbound and outbound. You must fully understand these differences as you hire salespeople, train them, and track their performance.
Inbound: Generally does not leave the office, which means they are either appointment setters or customer relationship managers. An appointment setter is often the very first person your prospective customer is in contact with. The person is responsible for cold calling potential leads so that your outbound sales person can meet with them.
Outbound: These sales teams actually meet with your prospective customer to discuss closing the deal. The negotiation strategies for outbound sales is different than inbound. In areas with a high customer acquisition cost, the stakes are higher for outbound sales professionals.
The sales process is right next to the core business plans of the best entrepreneurs. They spent a substantial amount of time in this process, if not engaging in it themselves, because of its importance. Some companies grow to a large enough size where enough leads and low enough customer acquisition cost offsets poor sales performance. However, businesses that do not fall victim to this complacency and want to capture every lead are the most successful.
Remember that the sales pipeline always have room for improvement and your end objective of a company is acquire and retain clients. Engaging in dirty or deceiving sales ploys may result in faster conversions, but a shorter customer lifecycle that will eventually corrode sales. Your company should always be closing more deals, more effectively, and not breaking ethical boundaries to do so. The rewards are tremendous and advantages will make themselves known immediately.
This is a guest post by Chase Hughes, Founding Partner at Pro Business Plans.