You’re cruising down 101 going 75mph on your way to lunch. You’re so hungry you can already taste the double-double and animal style fries waiting for you at In-n-Out. As you near your exit, you make out flashing lights and bright orange cones in the distance. You’re speeding toward your destination when you realize: the exit is closed. So you begrudgingly follow the detour signs, which lead you down a twisty, unfamiliar road, and before you know it, you’re having a salad for lunch. What the heck happened??
Nothing is more annoying than when something comes between you and your final destination. And this sentiment rings true for more than just driving – it also applies in sales. How frustrating is it when you’re “cruising” toward the close and all of a sudden you’re met with a roadblock? Of course, sometimes you can get around these, but more often than not they cause you to wind up somewhere you simply don’t want to be.
Here are a few tips and tricks of the trade to avoid messy sales detours and help keep you and your team on course.
Capture the right information up front.
Rather than being suddenly derailed as you near your destination, some of the most time intensive and costly sales detours occur at the beginning of your journey. This happens when reps fail to get either enough or the right information out of a prospect, and then cannot construct a compelling enough use case to move the sale forward in a timely manner.
One way to avoid this is by working with your marketing team to collect as much valuable prospect information as possible up front via lead capture forms. For example, just knowing what other solutions a prospect is evaluating or a key problem area provides reps with a lot of ammunition to guide and personalize conversations from the get go. Your CRM should be able to easily integrate with marketing automation or lead capture platforms to ensure that your sales reps have real-time access to this information as it’s collected.
Formalize a sales process.
While there are many routes that can lead to the same destination, some are more efficient than others; the same goes for sales. As a manager, it’s your job to provide your reps with the directions they need to get to their destination in the fastest and most effective way possible. These directions are your sales process, which provides reps with a clear series of steps and information that will move a lead all the way through the sales pipeline to close.
For example, to move a deal from the Qualified stage to the Quote stage of the sales pipeline, an established sales process may require reps to:
– Visit the prospect on-site
– Identify all decision makers
– Receive a verbal yes
You can see how completing each of the above items in a timely manner helps strengthen the prospect relationship (on-site), gathers meaningful and directive information (decision makers) and solidifies intent (verbal yes). Each of these three goals is critical when it comes to eliminating roadblocks and greasing the wheels of your sales cycle. For advice on how to choose the right process steps for your sales pipeline, download this free eBook.
Consistently set expectations.
Some of Base’s top sales folks recently shared some of their favorite questions to ask prospects that ultimately lead to the close. One piece of advice that continued to surface was setting expectations at every touch point throughout the sales cycle. Not only will this help you close, but it will also help you avoid any messy detours along the way.
As Base Account Executive Laura Andrusko put it, “It’s important to have many soft closes throughout the entire sales cycle. For example, if you need to demo the lower level admin first but you know in your evaluation plan the VP of Sales needs to sign off, ask, ‘I would be more than happy to demo! If I show you x,y,z functionality will you be comfortable introducing me to your VP of Sales?’ This helps you move forward.”
Base Sales Manager Mason Davis concurred, “They don’t have to agree to anything upfront, but they know that IF we get to a certain place, certain things will happen. Ask questions like, ‘So, if there was a solution that could do this, would you be willing to move forward at that price?’ You still have to prove that you are that solution, but you are prepping them to take next steps and move toward the close.”
Let data be your guide.
Let’s be real: most Millennials will never know the pain of searching for their destination on a map, following a route and then hitting a detour. Why? Because they are fortunate enough to have been born in the “era of GPS.” And a GPS can tell you where roadblocks exist in real-time and provide turn-by-turn directions on how to get around them.
Well, guess what? We are also living in the “era of data.” And just like a GPS can tell you where to drive, data can tell you how to sell. Not to mention when to sell, who to sell to, and so much more. If your sales reps are consistently using your CRM or sales platform of choice (and if they’re not, then read this), you should have access to enough data to uncover some serious insights. And if your CRM has the ability to crunch this data for you and deliver actionable intelligence in real-time, you should be able to generate reports that look something like this:
Everyone gets lost sometimes, but following these four tips is a great place to start to ensure that your reps get to where they need to be. For more informative and actionable posts like this one, be sure to subscribe to the Base Blog!