This article was originally published on Forbes on August 29, 2021.
Entrepreneurs know it’s challenging to close sales. But it might surprise some of these enterprising business minds to know exactly how difficult it is to close a sale.
A Marketing Donut survey found that 92% of salespeople give up on a lead after four refusals. The same study also found that 80% of leads will say “no” four times before relenting on the fifth attempt.
That’s even assuming that sales teams aren’t wasting their efforts in the “maybe zone.” Instead, salespeople too often live in limbo—unwilling to give up on ineffective tactics or commit to potentially successful ones.
Instead, founders and leaders can take more deliberate steps to increase their companies’ closing percentages:
1. Provide leads with educational materials.
Successful sales occur when customers genuinely understand a product or service. The best way to do that is with a consistent stream of informative materials, according to Leadrilla CEO Koby Hastings.
“Make helpfulness the central theme of each and every outreach,” Hastings said. “Curate and send informational collateral like buyers guides or product brochures that aren’t brand-specific. Such materials, if produced properly and professionally, enrich the value exchange of interacting with you, demonstrate competency, and lay the seeds for a long-term rapport.”
What does that educational outreach look like? Leads can receive postcards, emails, and other content that help build brand and product awareness. The more you teach your leads, the better acquainted they are with your services.
You exist to help them—not the other way around. Leads are open to speaking with salespeople to get questions answered, ambiguities clarified, and nuances explained before they make buying decisions.
2. Use a multichannel approach.
Don’t confine yourself to a single sales channel. Take the advice of Blake Vernon, chief revenue officer of Sapper Consulting, and cultivate a multichannel approach.
“In the past, you might have focused your sales efforts solely on phone calls or emails. The landscape is different today,” Vernon says. “B2B selling has been transformed by consumerization; prospects are looking for a personalized, multichannel experience that makes the process easier.”
Your sales team members need to be actively prospecting for and responding to potential buyers on various platforms. Use social media, phone calls, video meetings, emails, and more to connect. With more than one engagement platform, your team can have broad appeal and outreach in this post-pandemic landscape.
3. Tailor your pitch better.
The pandemic has altered the speed of the sales cycle. In the past, the time between the initial client and the sale was relatively brief—many clients bought on impulse and gut feeling.
As lockdowns slowed everything in the business world, clients can now be more methodical with their purchasing decisions. That means sales teams have to work even harder to convince clients to buy.
One of the best ways to do that in this new reality is by carefully targeting client needs and delivering a pitch that specifically appeals to them. Potential clients might still be reticent, but that focused emphasis could be enough to bring them around to a deal.
4. Sell your solution—not the product.
It’s tempting to always think in terms of your product. But what clients really want are solutions to their problems and remedies to their pain points. Touting the virtues of your product or service doesn’t do you any good if they’re irrelevant to the client.
Focus on each client’s issues and concerns, delivering a pitch that displays those problems being solved efficiently and on budget. Couch the benefits of your product for their problem in the form of a hypothetical situation that you’ve really fleshed out for the client.
This solution-focused approach can make a lasting impression that the client takes back with them and eventually incorporates into their buying decision.
Selling has never been easy. But in the post-pandemic reality, sales forces need to devote more care and clever techniques to closing deals. By doing this effectively and consistently, you can keep your startup out of the “maybe zone” and start building a robust roster of happy clients. Do that enough, and their positive word of mouth can lead to additional clients and sales.
Educate your leads, use a multichannel approach, tailor your pitch as much as possible, focus on clients’ problems, and deliver your pitch in the form of a story. Execute all of this, and you’ll set your team up for lasting sales success.