In my opinion the major sales funnel stages are these – Lead, Opportunity, and Closed Sale. Each stage has associated sales activities, including prospecting (Lead), presenting (Opportunity), connecting (Opportunity), and closing (Closed Sale). Detailed below are two hints for each section that I think you will find useful.
Tip #1: Research
Look for impending events or a relevant business reason prior to calling your lead. Make it about them, not you. If you concentrate on certain industries sectors, follow that vertical’s news become an authority in that market, understand your clients business and how they make money. Social media platforms — especially LinkedIn and Twitter — have made it easier to learn from influencers and industry experts.
Tip #2: Critical Mass
What goes into the top of your sales funnel directly dictates your sales results. Take your target/budget and work backwards to figure out your prospecting goals. The equation is quite simple, what is your average sale price? How many deals does it take using the average sale price to hit your target? How many active opportunities do you need in your prospect pipeline in a month to close that number of deals? Once you know this then you calculate how many prospects you need to identify in order to generate that number of opportunities, and that’s your prospecting target for the month.
Success Tip: Book space on your calendar either side of every appointment to prospect – call on a minimum of two preferable four new suspects. The key is to ‘sandwich call’ consistently.
Tip #1: Give Don’t Just Take
With every call you make bring something valuable to the prospect, be helpful first, and the conversation will flow much easier. Instead of starting with a full sales pitch, try delivering a small proof source item and then ask questions. By asking a relevant industry based question, you can gather useful information while building credibility along the way. If you start all your prospect calls with genuine curiosity and willingness to help, it will make the world of difference.
Tip #2: Personalise Your Emails
Whilst email is not a good tool to connect at times we are left with no choice, however, instead of “Could you put me in touch with the person in charge of X decision?” try writing an email like you would talk on the phone. Use your prospect’s name, mention something worthy that you saw or heard about them, their company or their industry, and relate it back to how you have helped others in their industry and how you want to help them. Finally, offer a specific time to connect for a few minutes — and watch your response rate grow.
Success Tip: Contact multiple stakeholders within a company. Create trust with influencers to help you reach the executive level.
Tip #1: Personalise Every Presentation
Here it’s important you are doing a good job of qualifying your opportunities, and if so then personalising the presentation is well worth your time. Invest 60 minutes into your presentation preparation (this will get shorter the more you practice). Present with a success story and design it around your prospect’s goals instead of giving them a blow by blow of your product or service. The amount of trust and credibility you build with this level of personalisation will be considerable and your close rate will improve.
Tip #2: Follow Up Follow Up Follow Up
We all know the adage ‘time kills all deals’ well if you don’t follow up then it most certainly will. Try to allocate 15 minutes for follow up after every meeting or presentation you deliver. Immediate follow up not only ensures you clearly remember how the presentation went and what you need to emphasise, it also makes an amazing impression on your prospect. Additionally, a tight follow up is an opportunity to close before you close. This is your opportunity to thoughtfully qualify and secure the value proposition and the timeline for decision. Don’t forget that this follow up message may be shared with others in the prospects business that were not in the meeting, so be sure that there is plenty of context.
Success Tip: Create success stories from your perfect customer profiles and deliver presentations in a storytelling style
Tip #1: ABC… Always Be Closing
If you are waiting to ask for your prospect’s business until the end of your sales process, you are probably too late. I recommend asking trial close questions much earlier based on your understanding of their business goals, your ability to provide the right plan / strategy / solution, and their willingness to work with you and to advance through the process. Early pre-commitments translate into higher close ratios. It becomes much easier to get a contract signed when it has already been established at a number of points along the way that the prospect understands the pain and wants your help.
Tip #2: Be Organised
The Top 1% of sales performers know at the drop of a hat what opportunities are in their prospect pipelines, what stage they’re at, what they need to do to close them, and how they are going to do that. Ask yourself honestly if you can do this. If not (it’s Okay we’ve all been there), now is the time to reconsider how you can organise your business. It is a game changer to be able to walk into your day with a full plan, execute on it, and track yourself.
These are my tips, but I want to hear yours, too! Would you please comment below to contribute your ideas? What tips would you add to the list in this post?