One of the most common questions that sales professionals have is, “how do I close deals faster?”
It is a question that transcends experience and situational circumstances – we are a hungry lot, and no matter how good the situation, it can always be better. We are constantly looking for ways to improve and enhance our skills, and we are never satisfied. And that’s a great thing, because that’s what defines us, and makes us good at our jobs.
But some of the key aspects to being better at B2B sales, and therefore closing deals faster, are surprisingly simple. With the tools we have today, we have access to more information than ever before, and can automate and outsource some of the more mundane aspects of the job, leaving us enough time to work on our interaction with the prospect, and closing that deal.
• Be prepared
“Be prepared” is more than the motto of the Boy Scouts.
(It’s also a powerful song by Scar in The Lion King that truly expresses his cunning, and establishes him as the Big Bad in the movie. But I digress.)
Being prepared has never been more crucial than today – especially when it comes to sales. Customers today are extremely well-informed, better than ever before, and if we’re to make an impression, we must be able to add to their knowledge, while highlighting the value that we bring. Here are some surefire ways to do this:
1. Understand the prospect’s pain points
Obviously, this is the key. If you are able to communicate that you understand their pain points, and your solution can help their business grow, that’s great. But what we tend to forget is that we’re not talking to “a business” – we’re talking to a specific individual. How much do we know about them? What are their individual pain points? Can we help solve them? Being able to impress the individual you’re speaking to is the best way to push your deal to a successful close, and the most effective way to turn a prospect into a champion is to give them good reason to. Find out how you can help them specifically today, and you will be more likely to help their business tomorrow. If the prospect is active on LinkedIn and Quora, that might help give you an insight into their troubles.
One of our more successful interactions involved a CFO who had recently moved from Iowa to Arizona – one of our team happened to spend some time in the same city, and we were able to give him some tips on things to do, places to eat, etc. He was so impressed that he helped put us in touch with the decision-maker, and we leapfrogged ahead in the sales cycle.
2. Collate relevant tailored content
Content is key to accelerating your sales conversation, and establishing yourself as an expert in the field to your prospects. Over the last decade, it has become more and more evident that having useful and engaging content can make or break a sales deal – especially when the content is proprietary and provides in-depth case studies of your success stories. As a result, most modern businesses have a strong focus on content generation, collection and distribution. The unfortunate consequence of this? Teams lose track of all the content available for them. This is especially the case if your solution caters to multiple industries. While you may be able to identify some key assets that your marketing team has generated, how many times can you use the same asset before it gets dated? How do you keep track of new versions of the asset being made available? And, most importantly, how can you be sure that you have access to new files as and when they’re created?
To deal with this, you need a comprehensive content management solution that allows you to create a centralized resource for all assets. What’s more, it should ideally allow for easy content discovery, and automatically sync and update, to ensure that you have the latest version on hand at all times.
Our platform, Paperflite, allows you to collate all your content into easily managed streams that you can then subscribe to for regular updates. What’s more, it easily syncs with multiple online storage services as well, so if your team has been housing their content in Drive or Dropbox, you can easily sync it with the platform into Streams that mirror your folder structure. By just choosing to subscribe to relevant streams, you can limit the content that is available to you, allowing for you to easily find what is most relevant for your prospect. You can also favorite key assets, so that you can pull them up instantly.
3. Stay updated
Along the vein mentioned above, all the content in the world will not make a dent in your sales process, if you can’t keep track of the latest version. Therefore, it’s important that your content management system takes that into account, and allows for you to easily update the files, preferably automatically.
With Paperflite, assets and streams are auto-synced instantly, which means you’ll always have the latest version available. What’s more, because you’re not hunting through emails or a confusing file system, you don’t have to break your flow when in a meeting with the prospect. With just two clicks, you’ll have the asset, ready to share.
• Be agile
Agility is an extremely underappreciated trait in a good salesperson. While the term is usually associated with physical acts involving flexibility and strength, mental agility is crucial in the world of B2B sales, especially if you want to be signing those deals quick. Here are three ways to accomplish this:
1. Able to adapt to the prospect’s needs
When you’re having a conversation with the prospect, it’s crucial to provide a compelling argument for your solution. However, during that initial conversation, there’s always a chance that something comes up that you hadn’t foreseen, but could help in pushing the deal along faster. You need to be able to recognize these blockers quickly, and be able to think on your feet to provide a viable solution that you can assist with.
One of the ways to do this is to have a deep understanding of the field your prospect is in – knowing who their competition is, how they have dealt with similar problems, and what sort of solutions they have implemented, will be very useful in giving you the insight needed to foresee these issues. Another solution goes back to being prepared – if you are working with clients across industries, you are uniquely qualified to share insights from those other industries that may be relevant. You can also easily pull up the relevant content that you may have shared with those other companies, and use those case studies as reference points. Of course, that’s only possible if you have a tool like Paperflite at your disposal.
2. Understand what you can (and can’t) do
Having a clear understanding of what is within your purview to solve or even answer is an extremely under-appreciated skill, but is deeply effective in managing the prospect, and keeping the conversation on track to a successful close.
Because it allows you to keep the momentum going.
Any good salesperson knows that you want to get your prospect in a positive “agreeing” frame of mind, and then gradually nudge them towards your solution. That way, they’re more receptive to listening to you, and understanding the value that you can provide. After doing all this hard work, can you imagine what happens when a question forces you to stumble?
If you know what you can and can’t do, you can instantly know whether or not you have an answer to the question thrown at you. As a result, you’re not spending precious seconds searching for an answer – you’re instead spending those seconds either answering the question, or pivoting that less-relevant out-of-scope question towards more features and values that your solution provides.
As a result, you’re not going to waste any time dealing with distractions, and keep the conversation moving towards that close.
3. Share content instantly
Have you had those meetings that have gone off perfectly, you go back to the office, send over the relevant documents, and then… nothing? Why do you suppose that was? Did the client remember who you were when they received your email, hours later? Did they open the content? Did they find it useful?
Why create a situation that has such a high chance of failure?
The key here is to ensure that you get all relevant content into the hands of your prospect as soon as possible. That way, you don’t allow her the time to forget you and get caught up in her day. By sharing all relevant content immediately – including those files you didn’t plan on – you cement the impression you’ve created with the prospect, and can ensure that she’ll pick up the phone the next time you call to follow up.
A tool like Paperflite enables you to have access to all your content, and instantly share it, right there in the meeting itself. No more time wasted getting to the files, and no more time wasted wondering what happened.
• Be confident
It’s been scientifically proven that all of us respond well to confidence. We are automatically attracted to authority and knowledge, and confidence in your words and your behavior communicates that. As a result, a good salesperson needs to be able to communicate this confidence in all interactions.
Here’s how you do that:
1. Know your solution
When it comes to communicating confidence, knowledge is power. You want to know everything there is to know about your solution, and make sure that there is no hesitation in your voice when you’re asked questions about it. Sit with the development team, and with the testing team, and understand everything that your offering can do – then go and practice it, over and over again, until you’ve got it down pat.
Nothing shuts down a sale faster than a rep’s lack of confidence. Similarly, nothing speeds up a sale more than confidence either. Being able to project confidence is a vital skill for any good sales rep, and when used well, it can even help you get out of difficult situations.
2. Know how to communicate
Your exceptional knowledge of the product, though, is only as good as your skill to communicate it. You need to be able to project the same level of confidence in all your interactions, and make sure that it is communicated in not just your words, but also your tone, your body language, and especially in your digital communication.
You also need to be a good student of human nature, and understand subtle cues that your prospect gives you during your interaction with them. Mirroring is a subtle but effective way of establishing rapport – use similar language, tones, and body language to communicate familiarity. If the prospect is being curt, or using monosyllables to answer questions, he may not be paying attention – maybe there’s something else you can help with, or maybe you should just reschedule for another time when he can focus? Understanding how your prospect’s respond will help you be more effective in your communication with them, and can quickly help you build the trust needed to close the deal.
3. Know when to follow-up
Finally, you need to know when is the right time to follow up. Using an effective tool can help you take the guesswork out of the process, and clearly identify when your prospect has engaged with the content you’ve shared.
Most people would suggest using an email tracker for this purpose, and while they can be useful, they aren’t good indicators of buyer behavior. Think of the number of emails you’ve opened in a single day – how many of those were out of genuine interest? Open rates and Click rates are merely a question of developing curiosity in the prospect, something that can be achieved with vague messages and personalized subject lines. We’ve used many email services in the past, and have found that our most successful emails (i.e., highest open rates and highest click rates) barely spoke about our product at all. When we followed up, prospects rarely knew what we were talking about, and the number of genuine qualified leads we generated from these were negligible.
That’s one of the reasons we built Paperflite. Paperflite allows you to track engagement with the asset you’ve shared. Now, you can know not only if the prospect has opened your asset, but also how much time he’s spent on each page, and who he’s shared it with, all in real-time. This saves you the countless hours wasted guessing, and gives you a much better indication of how interested the prospect is. By knowing when he engaged with the asset, you’re able to accurately time your follow-up, and knowing what pages captured his interest the most, you can contextualize the call, and help move the conversation forward. You can also pull in the other decision-makers he shared the content with, to help get a consensus faster. Using this tool is incredibly powerful – some of our clients have found that their sales cycles have been halved as a result
Using these three strategies, and updating your skills and tools used, we’re sure you can quickly reduce the time taken to sign that contract, and close that deal. By being prepared, agile and confident, you have the awareness and knowledge needed to keep the ball rolling, and with the right tools to support you and give you that much-needed insight into the client’s behavior, you’ll be able to get over the finish line effectively and efficiently.