Closing a sale often means dealing with the nitty-gritty details, and from a customer’s point of view, that comes down to this: “Okay, tell me how much I need.”
In theory that shouldn’t be hard to do, but success in B2B sales is predicated on offering something more customized than a consumer buyer might expect. It means configuring the perfect blend of products and services to address the customer’s pain point, determining the price that will get them to say “yes,” and delivering the quote in a timely manner.
Depending on what’s being sold, however, figuring out those details could take considerable legwork and back-and-forth with internal teams. A simple sales management software may not do the trick. Customer relationship management (CRM) technology automates those headaches away, but as sales teams get started they should think about how they want to set up the system to maximize its impact.
CRM has been around for a long time but the advent of cloud-based versions means it’s much easier to deploy and can be made much more widely available on devices such as smartphones.
The questions that follow will help determine your first steps to begin automating one of the most critical points in the sales process.
By all means treat every sale as a unique, almost bespoke experience, but make sure the back end of your close process looks at whatever similarities there are across accounts. This begins by leveraging the data within CRM such as Salesforce’s Sales Cloud, but it also means thinking about how you will handle special pricing requests, or SPRs.
Some customers may want to know they’re entitled to special pricing based on the repeat business they’ve given, for instance or whether they operate in areas like the non-profit sector. Other SPRs may be much more granular. Traditionally reps have had to submit SPRs for approval, but waiting for that go-ahead can give customers enough time to change their minds.
In your next sales team meeting, conduct a review of all SPRs that have come in over the last quarter. Look for any commonalities. How could understanding the catalysts for these SPRs let you preemptively build in approvals? This not only gets you closer to finalizing the sale. It can also give you an idea of where you might want to rethink your base pricing for products and services that tend to generate SPRs for each customer.
Imagine this scenario: A sales rep takes the time and effort to put together a custom quote that reflects exactly what a particular customer wants. Then, a week after the sale, the same customer receives an e-mail describing an offer for the exact same product or service.
Using a CRM solution should not only accelerate the buying cycle, it should also help the marketing team use data more effectively via tools like Pardot to nurture demand for cross-sell and upsell opportunities later on. The same goes for customer service teams. If what’s been sold is different than what has routinely been purchased by other clients, the troubleshooting issues may be different, too. It also works the other way around: data from customer service teams that use tools such as Service Cloud could help the sales team get a sense of what additional products and services would provide customers an enhanced overall experience.
The first quote might go over fine with the customer — until they approach another company and use it as leverage to get a potentially better price. The sales automation process will help organizations tackle what’s often the necessary step of coming up with a second quote. This doesn’t need to be a race to the bottom in terms of pricing, though. It might be looking across data from tools like Sales Cloud and Service Cloud, along with sales tracking to see whether add-on products, additional support offers or other incentives would make your organization seem like the better long-term partner.
Reps always want the sale, but their organizations need the actual revenue. Some customers are better about this than others. The more you know your accounts, the more you should think about what kind of milestones need to be built into the billing process to get money through the door. This may involve everything from gentle reminders to more blunt tactics. It might also be a case of invoicing properly. In some situations, for example, a particular product and service configuration needs to be split up into invoices going to different departments in the same organization. The better these details are mapped out, the more likely you’ll meet overall business targets.
Speaking of targets, the sales automation processes can also influence the way managers improve the team’s performance. If some of the issues outlined above are addressed, for example, configurations and quotes should happen faster, which means monthly or quarterly totals could change.
In fact, the addition of artificial intelligence features such as Salesforce Einstein will help make much more predictive. That means reps might not just be graded on the deals they close but the amount (and quality) of data they contribute. In other words, they’ll be increasingly focused on the nitty-gritty details, too.
Take your sales game to the next level with the tips in our free ebook, “4 Steps to Transforming Your Sales Process.”