The power to increase sales wins is one of the most important levers for sales success.
One of the major questions I get from corporate clients is: “how can we increase sales wins, and reduce our loss rate ?”. Think about it this way: when you are at the stage where the proposal is outstanding, the client is making up their mind and your CRM system says “closeable”, 90% of the of work, effort and energy have gone into the deal already.
Yet, critically, a lot of sellers fail to deliver that last punch, that last little push the deal needs to get over the hill – thereby often unnecessarily losing deals to competitors or the dreaded “status quo”.
In this post, I’ll share 10 proven, helpful tips to increase last-minute sales wins. I’ve used these myself, and my clients have used them in order to save major deals from going south and overcome seemingly impossible odds.
When you’re trying to close your next deal, and things are not going as well as planned, try these out for yourself, and see what happens.
1. Help Them Overcome Their Fears
One of the major reasons deals are lost, especially to the dreaded status quo, is that buyers are simply afraid of acting and moving forward. They’re afraid of making the wrong decision, allocating corporate funds to a venture that may result in failure, and tarnishing their own reputations and careers in the process.
Often, these “dreams of human failure” start leading their own little lives, bringing important deals investments to a premature ending through endless ruminating and doomsday scenarios.
Simply helping your buyer voice their nightmare scenarios can often be a major step in the right direction. In an open and honest conversation, ask them about what they fear most, and explain step-by-step how you will be able to help them reduce the risk, and address the issue if it does come up.
2. Help Them Make The Internal Sale
In today’s world, no one makes decisions in isolation. I don’t care if they’re mid-level manager or a Fortune 500 CEO – in 2015, no one makes decisions by themselves anymore. In an age of a more democratic workplace, fluid decision-making processes, matrix organizations and increasing risk aversion, decisions are made by committee – whether formalized or not.
More often than not, your buyer has an internal sale to make – yet unfortunately, many times they are at a loss of how to do so successfully. In order to get the deal to close, your responsibility is to support them in whatever way to help them make the internal sale: coach them, provide additional information, contribute further analysis, engage in joint meetings, …
Whatever it is, if you can help them close their sale, you’ll vastly increase your chances of closing yours.
3. Show Them The “Cost Of No Decision”
As human beings, our default mode of action is “no action”. If we can get away with it, we would much rather do nothing than risk even the slightest little bit, or have to expend even the smallest amount of energy and resources.
No change, no loss. No gain, no pain.
If you can help your buyers see what the cost of no decision truly looks like – in terms of lost potential, market share, revenue growth, risk reduction or whatever measure is applicable to your business – you will simultaneously increase their desire to take action, and take action immediately.
4. Offer Incentives To Action
In addition to exploring the cost of no decision, use incentives to action to further expand the gap between where they are now and where they could be. The larger the gap, the more inclined the buyer will be to move forward.
Try and offer incentives to action (note: I am not talking about discounting here) as a way to further encourage your buyer to move forward, and move forward with you.
5. Offer To Reduce Or Remove Roadblocks
Sometimes, getting buyers to choose a path is as much about removing things as it is about adding things. Maybe it’s providing a resource they don’t have, but you could easily provide. Maybe it’s a piece of knowledge. Maybe someone internally needs to be brought on board.
Whatever the case, offering to reduce or remove roadblocks is a tried and tested strategy to increase sales wins at the last minute.
6. Show Them How To Get Started
Very often one of the major roadblocks to getting started is that buyers simply don’t have the resources to do so, or don’t see how.
Many buyers are cash-strapped, resource poor and lack the internal resources to get things underway. Meaning most buyers I know would jump at the chance of having a supplier take matters into their own hands, and offer to carry out the first steps to get a project started.
Think about it like this: if you can show your buyer a smooth path for moving forward after they sign, you’ll take away virtually every reason for not taking that path.
7. Do It For Them
I once read somewhere that most people dream of becoming an entrepreneur.
When asked what they mean by that, it turns out that most people want the perceived results of becoming an entrepreneur: wealth, prestige, financial independence and an opportunity to live a long and prosperous life on a sunny beach in a luxury villa. What they don’t want is all the pain, effort, setbacks, worrying and failure that come before that result.
In short, they want the result, but without the effort.
The closer you can come to delivering the result to your client without them having to expend any effort, the more successful you will be (and, incidentally, the more you’ll be able to charge for your services).
DIY is out. DI(F)Y (Do It For You) is in.
8. Offer A Strong Guarantee
Many clients are afraid of being sold something that doesn’t work – and unfortunately, in some industries, they are right to be concerned. Stories of woe and failure are aplenty in corporate hallways: scopes blown out of proportion, budgets expanded to 2-3 times their size, …
Regardless of whether or not you’re in one of those industries that have a “bad rep”, offering a strong guarantee is a great way of turning a sale into a close at the last minute.
I’m not just talking about “money back guarantees” here. Performance guarantees, offers to continue the work until it succeeds, … are all equally valid forms of offering a strong guarantee.
9. Offer A “Deal Sweetener”
Sometimes, all it takes to get a client over the edge is a little, tiny push. If you can, offer a “deal sweetener” of sorts. (Again, I’m not talking about an outright discount here).
What I am talking about is adding something into the mix that is of value to them, of relatively little effort to you, yet makes a significant contribution to the overall value they receive.
Is there something small that you can add into the mix, like some analysis, offering to include an additional management reporting session, run an internal workshop, conduct some ongoing reporting or a temporary increase in functionality ?
Find something that is of value to your clients, of relatively little cost to you and offer to include it into the deal at no extra charge.
10. Stay In The Drivers Seat
Ultimately, closing the sale is no one’s responsibility but yours. It’s not your clients. It’s not your bosses’. It’s not your colleague’s. It’s not the government’s.
The sooner you realize that, the better you’ll be at staying in the driver’s seat and seeing things through until the very end (which, by the way, is not the signature of the contract – but I will expand on that in another post).
In my experience, the strongest and most powerful way to increase sales wins directly is a seller who is willing to keep moving forward, keep encouraging their buyer to take action, removes all roadblocks and remaining issues until the final answer can only be – “yes”.