It doesn’t matter how skilled your salespeople are; your close rate will never be a perfect 100%. That’s just the reality of it. If, however, you’re losing a lot of deals you should have won, there’s probably a reason – if not a few!
Fortunately, once you can identify these causes, you can improve your methodology and subsequently, your results.
So, now that we’ve got that covered it’s time to have a look at what the causes could be.
You’re trying to sell to everyone.
Everyone knows a good sales pipeline is about quality over quantity. If your prospects aren’t buying from you, you need to re-evaluate the quality of the opportunities you are going after. Have they been correctly targeted? Do you know why your product or service is a good fit for them? Or are you just trying to sell to anyone showing any sign of interest?
Although it may seem to go against your intuition as salespeople to walk away from any prospects, narrowing your focus to the most qualified will make you much more likely to succeed. Not only are these buyers much more likely to purchase, but a smaller group also allows you to spend more time on each one – letting you personalise each outreach and develop a compelling business case.
Tell-tale signs: ‘I’m not really sure my company needs [service/product]’
You’re driving your customers away.
There is a reason no one answers calls from numbers they don’t know: they don’t like to be sold to. And again, if salespeople use email as a spamming tool, rather than a means of making a genuine connection to help their prospects, messages from people they don’t know go unanswered too.
Dial back the fake enthusiasm that salespeople are notorious for, stop pestering your prospects. Instead, be yourself and provide real value. It might be helpful to think of yourself as a consultant rather than a salesperson. You should learn as much from your prospects as you can, so you don’t waste their time asking for information like how large their company is and what it is that they sell.
Tell-tale signs: ‘I’m not interested, please stop contacting me’
You’re not bringing objections to the surface.
We get it, digging for objections is scary. Once you unearth them, they’re out there – concrete reasons for your prospect not to buy. The reality is though, these objections exist whether you acknowledge them or not. And the best time to resolve these concerns is in the beginning of the sales process while your buyer still has an open mind.
Learn what’s keeping your prospects from purchasing by asking the right questions:
- ‘If we didn’t go ahead, what would the reason be?’
- ‘We’ve covered what you like about [service/product] – can we spend some time on what you didn’t like the sound of?’
- ‘It’s very normal to have some concerns about this sort of investment. Are you open to sharing yours with me, if you have any?’
Tell-tale signs: ‘Actually, XYZ is a big concern for us, so we’ve chosen to go with [competitor].’
You’re not creating urgency.
As salespeople, your product or service is your primary focus, for your prospect, it’s just another thing that is fighting for their attention. Without a reason to make a purchase now rather than later, your deal is likely to expire in its infancy. If you want your deals to pay off start asking probing questions that reveal why your prospect’s business well-being somehow depends on having your service or product.
Here are some examples:
- ‘What will happen if you don’t solve this problem by [X date]?’
- ‘Tell me about the consequences of missing [Y goal].’
- ‘Explain to me what’s riding on [Z strategy]?’
- ‘How long has this been an issue? Why are you choosing to focus on it now?’
- ‘Is [addressing/improving/fixing] this a priority right now? Where would you say it sits on your list of priorities?’
Tell-tale signs: ‘Maybe next quarter/year.’
You’re not helping them feel safe.
No one wants to put their neck on the line for something that they’re not 100% confident about. This is a fact that kills many deals; after all, think about what would happen to your prospect if they advocated for your service, got the budget and then the solution was ineffective or worse completely flopped.
It’s true they might not be out of a job, but their internal reputation would definitely take a hit.
That’s what part of your job involves making them feel comfortable with the investment they are making, and any of the risks involved. You can do this in several ways.
First of all, if your company offers any protection terms such as full refunds, trial periods, or your money back if you don’t see certain results then make sure to highlight these throughout your conversations.
You can also establish credibility by:
- Referring to current customers
- Sending case studies and testimonials to your prospects
- Offering to connect them with references
- Sharing positive online reviews
- Mentioning any awards or industry honours that your product or company has received
Tell-tale signs: ‘I’m not sure we’re ready for this yet’
You’re not selling the value.
As salespeople, you’re not selling your product or service, you’re selling the value that they can offer to your prospects.
The reality is your buyers don’t care about what your service is, or what features it has. They care about how that product or service is going to make their lives easier. You need to position your offer to be something that your prospect can’t be without.
As you work with your prospects, help them to see clearly how much simpler, better or easier life would be for them once they implement your offering. By selling from this angle, you communicate the value of your product. This in turn makes your prospects more likely to prioritise your service or allocate budget for it, because life without it seems much more expensive in the long run.
Tell-tale signs: ‘This isn’t a priority for us at the moment.’
You’re not listening to them properly.
Active listening is one of the most important skills for salespeople. If a prospect gets all the way to the end of your sales process and says, ‘this isn’t what I’m looking for’, somewhere along the line there was an opportunity missed to hear their perspective.
If you’re finding that your conversations with your prospects are all one sided, meaning you’re talking at them instead of having a conversation with them. You can likely get better results by incorporating some active listening practises during your conversations. On your calls make sure you are taking the time to:
- Repeat back what you’ve heard your prospect saying to confirm your understanding. ‘What I heard you say was… is that correct?’
- Ask questions to help the prospect communicate their own perspective.
- Pause throughout the conversation to give them ample time and space to share.
Tell-tale signs: ‘This wasn’t quite what we’re looking for.’
Your sales process is broken.
If you’re finding that many of your prospects don’t make it far enough into your sales process to raise an objection, that’s a really strong indication that your sales process is broken or that your funnel has a leak that needs to be addressed.
This could mean that your prospects are either not being properly qualified, or there is a missed opportunity to follow up and fully nurtured Leeds who are qualified. Work closely with your teams to go through your sales process step by step and identify the areas that need to be improved upon for a much better buyer experience.
Learning that it’s not them, it’s you, is never fun. But it’s important to figure out what’s going wrong so that you can take the appropriate action to fix it.
Published: 31st May 2021
As someone successful in sales, you’ve probably spent years perfecting your strategy. But picture this: you’re having roughly three meetings a day, then suddenly there’s no more follow-ups, no next steps, and no sales.
Just about everyone in sales has had that stomach-sick moment where they realise the usual process and tactics are no longer working. The key to continuing your success is changing course and re-evaluating your strategy when it’s no longer working. Doing this will help you continually make progress and avoid a bad quarter or year.
Identifying the moment.
Nothing ever stays the same. As a salesperson, it’s vital that you recognise when your usual tactics aren’t getting the expected results and then pivot.
When I think back to my first sales job, I was so hungry for success. My goal was to make sales and lots of them. I looked forward to putting up impressive numbers on a whiteboard and being at the top of the leaderboard on-call stats. My strategy was to make as many calls as possible, and that was the number my manager and I tracked.
When the deals went rolling through, I realised I was going about it all wrong. Well, sales is definitely a numbers game; I’d been looking at all the wrong numbers. You can make calls until you’re blue in the face and still get nowhere, or you can change how you play the game. It didn’t take long for me to realise I needed to start identifying higher quality prospects so that my calls were more likely to lead to sales.
I became much more selective and researched each prospect to make sure they met my ideal client profile. I then determined whether they were ready for a sales call or needed more nurturing.
By becoming more selective, I saved time and improved my win rate massively. Before I even approached a potential client, I knew they could afford my offering. And by digging a little deeper before each call meant I always had access to the right decision-maker who had the authority to say ‘yes’ to what I was putting on the table.
It’s so easy to get stuck in a rut and go down the same path even when you’re not getting the results you want. That’s why you need to have the self-awareness to take stock of your techniques, be honest with yourself about the level of success you are or aren’t reaching, and make changes.
These steps can help you evaluate your process:
Map out your sales strategy:
Start off by breaking down your sales process into stages. After writing down your process, go through each step. Ask yourself how is each stage working for you. Are you still getting the same results today as you were when you first started? Carefully consider how you could tweak this stage to make it more successful. Do this with every step periodically to ensure your sales process keeps up with your requirements.
Set clear objectives.
Holding yourself accountable is a lot simpler when you have clear, measurable objectives. We know it can be challenging – defining clear goals takes time and effort, and many people struggle with the idea that being too specific will set them up for failure.
Though you may feel this way, studies at the Harvard Business School have found that employees who make small wins against larger goals were much more engaged and successful. You can take advantage of this by setting a large goal for yourself and breaking it down into monthly or weekly targets.
If your annual goal is to deliver 200 proposals, figure out how many proposals you need to do per month. At the end of every month, you can see if you’ve achieved your monthly goal then evaluate that against your annual target. Making these small incremental wins helps to give you a stronger sense of progression and satisfaction in your work.
Be brutally honest with yourself.
Re-evaluating your sales strategy requires a lot of self-awareness and even more honesty. This is where most of us fail – making excuses or rationalising our lack of success at a particular step.
Use a CRM to track your activities for each of your sales process steps. This forces you to be honest about your results and helps you to identify your weak points better. It’s one thing to say that you feel like business is good; it’s another thing to know it’s good.
It takes courage to be honest with yourself and a lot of bravery to change your strategy. However, self-assessment is the key to career growth. It provides insight into your skills, knowledge, and competencies.
No sales strategy is entirely foolproof, and no strategy can be effective forever. The moment that you realise one of the steps in your process isn’t working, it’s time to make a change. Constantly evolving your tactics or help keep you on top of your game and ahead of your competitors.
Published: 24th May 2021