Is your small business sales team newer, less tenured, or used to a different selling motion? You may find that their ability to drive a sale to close is just as much of a variable.
Recently, our Essentials Business Coach team in Atlanta held a “War Room” — a sales tactic to review deals in play, understand where gaps in pipeline lie, or to break down a big topic — on how to better ask for the close. After evaluating different sales talking points typically associated with driving to a close, we broke into groups to brainstorm any points, questions, or statements that could help our team (full transparency, it got very competitive and funny).
Here are the seven best strategies we came up with to ensure a close. If you’re a small business sales team looking for tips on how to close your next deal, take note:
1. Set the stage for a close
Your prospect should feel like they fit into an established process. By setting proper expectations and explaining what comes next for them, you can instantly build credibility for yourself as well as your company.
Our language sounds like: “We have a five-step process, and you are at step two already! The first step was getting in touch with us, and the second step is talking to me. Next, we will evaluate your business needs and share how the product can benefit you, and you will have a chance to work through our free CRM trial. After that, we will decide whether or not you want to move forward, and if you do, I will introduce you to our adoption and support team to ensure you’re set up for success.
2. Speak boldly
Nothing adds more confidence to your pitch or demo than suggesting that your prospect is already on their way to becoming a customer for life. Far too often, salespeople shy away from bold statements because they don’t want to seem pushy. A simple cue to get the customer in buying mode is switching your “if” language to “when” language. Get in the habit of saying things like, “when you get started,” “once you sign the contract,” or “as a customer” versus “if you decide you want to sign up.” This switch in language shows belief in your product and your ability to show the prospect what they need to feel equally as confident as your customer or increasing their spend.
3. Get buy-in
Strong discovery and need analysis is the easiest way to show your customer value throughout your demo or pitch. But if you don’t use that information or ensure the customer is following your value proposition, the likelihood of them losing attention or focus is very high, and your sale could flop.
Using buy-in language will help your team keep the customer engaged and on board with what they are proposing. For example, say “Do you see how this will help you keep your inventory organized and avoid the inconsistency you’ve seen with your current system?” or “As we look at this feature, what impact do you think it would have on your payroll process?” If you get a genuine answer, you’re on the right track! If they don’t give you much, simply back up and say “Not a problem, sounds like I am not hitting the nail on the head, what aspects of the service/solution do you feel most confident about?
4. Bargain in shorter blocks of time
“Time kills deals” is the fated term every salesperson has etched into their memory as they set their follow-ups. The easiest way to start securing shorter follow-ups is to bargain in shorter time blocks. On your next call, instead of letting your customer lead the conversation with “Give me two weeks and then we can regroup,” say “Usually it takes our customers a day or so to decide whether or not the solution is a good fit, seeing as today is Monday, what time can I give you on Wednesday to figure out next steps?
Typically, customers will ask for another 24-48 hours. If the prospect pushes back, saying they need a week, just dig in to understand why. This allows you to get even more insight into their timeline and decision path. Finally, if you’re in high-velocity sales that is designed for one call closes, offer to be put on hold and call back in minutes or an hour to keep the quick sale moving.
5. Use "if... then..." for discounting and perks
Cash flow may be a concern for your customer and showing them you are empathetic to their situation will allow you to build credibility and trust in your company. However, if your discovery around budget wasn’t the strongest, your team may slip into the discount death spiral — offering deeper and deeper discounts and find themselves without any other moves to make if the customer still says ‘not right now.
Establishing a bi-lateral concession (I scratch your back, you scratch mine) with your prospect before seeking approval on a discount will help ensure you aren’t giving away the family farm to win business. Start by saying, “If I can get you approved for a 15% discount, then are you ready to sign today?” This gives you insight into how serious your customer is about getting started and also allows them to let you know their true opinion on your offer.
6. Tell them they’re ready
Sometimes customers get cold feet or think their business savvy isn’t strong enough to actually take the training wheels off and start using your solution at full speed. If you have been following these steps, you have already established yourself as a credible consultant, so it helps to give your customer a little extra boost of confidence to get them over the line. Just like a coach pulling a player off the bench because they believe they can make the winning play, you should encourage your customer in the same way, especially if you have a technical product or are, say, selling a CRM. Here’s an example on how to do so: “We have been talking for a few weeks, and I truly believe you have a strong understanding of how to best use the platform for your team. Let’s talk about next steps and getting you started. What are your thoughts?
7. Ask for the business!
Imagine your colleague is telling you about the awesome party they’re throwing this weekend with pizza, drinks, a live band, and more. You are listening and waiting for an invitation, but it never comes. Instead, you sip your tea, smile, say “Hope it’s fun” and return to your desk feeling left out. Similarly, when it comes to sales, many salespeople forget to invite their prospect to the party. You just told them about this amazing product that is going to change the way they run their business, but if you don’t invite them to the party, they may not opt-in on their own. Ask for the close by saying “Let’s get you started” or “From here it takes a few minutes to put together a contract for us to review, do you mind if I put you on hold so we can get you started?
If you have done your job to ensure the customer was following your points, and you got buy-in, it’s very hard for them to say no. If they do, that’s okay too — you can start digging to understand where you went astray and figure out a way to invite them back to the party again!
Setting the stage to close starts from the beginning of your communications with your customers. By following these steps, you can get your team that much closer to Closed Won status.
Salesforce Essentials helps you find more customers, win their business, and keep them happy so you can grow faster than ever. Learn more about our small business CRM solutions by following us on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.