How-to Close Sales the Right Way 

How-to Close Sales the Right Way 

Author
Michael Maximoff
Published
11.16.2020
Reading duration
15m

Our first how-to guides elaborated on generating sales leads, writing sales emails, optimizing sales mailboxes, shaping a unique value proposition and introducing it via sales presentations. Therefore, it’s high time you learned more about the process of closing a deal

While it seems that closing a deal is a logical result of all the steps mentioned above, this assumption is not exactly correct. It’s the next stage of your sales pipeline that is partially defined by your sales nurturing, but still majorly depends on how you approach this stage and what decisions you make. 

What should you do exactly? How do you keep your cool and wrap things up at a satisfactory pace and with high chances of customer retention? 

Before we start breaking all these questions down, we must mention that there are many aspects to keep in mind, from the demands that are exclusive to your industry to millions of tiny details that shape your way of doing business. Nevertheless, as long you know the basic principles, you’ll always understand how to close a deal. 

With that said, let’s roll! 
 

Systemize your sales

There is a huge disparity between how people imagine the process of closing sales and how it looks like in real life.

 

Systemize your sales


So, what can we learn from this?
 

Don’t make your sales representatives do all the work


Your sales campaign can be logically divided into three stages:

  • Lead research. Finding high-value leads that fit the Ideal Customer Profile, obtaining contact data of potential decision-makers, building a base for outreach.
  • Sales development. Lead nurturing that involves cold outreach aimed at motivating the prospects to take a call with a sales rep and discuss a potential fit. This stage covers follow-ups, processing the responses from the prospects and creating content that engages the prospects and moves them to the next pipeline stage.
  • Sales execution. Closing a deal, receiving the payment and onboarding the client.

To maximize your sales, don’t make one sales representative responsible for lead research, sales development, and sales execution. Assign an expert to handle each task and ensure smooth, uninterrupted communication within the team. It has been established that sales executives who are focused on closing deals only are more effective and are able to close more deals.

 


Remember about BANT

So, you’ve finally jumped on a call with your prospect to see if there is a fit. What does it mean? It means that you’re about to qualify your prospect and see how well your offer hits the following boxes: 
 

BANT qualification

 

How does it help your sales?

The art of sales is based on your ability to ask the right questions, in the right order. Of course, it comes with practice. Implementing BANT helps you understand how to ask sales-relevant questions and stir your prospects in the right direction. It allows you to structure your conversation around your goals while staying flexible and working around your prospects’ answers. 

Why is it important? Because your prospects hate cookiecutter conversations. When they say “I don’t know, I don’t think my budget allows it” and hear something like “That’s okay because we have the highest ROI in the market”, they feel ignored. Nothing says ‘I don’t care about what you think or what you want, just give me your money and get on with it’ like blindly pushing your product and brushing away your prospects’ answers. 

So, you want to know what’s on your prospects’ minds. You want to address their concerns. You want them to express their doubts — and BANT makes it easier. 
 

Sales conversation structure

1) Small talk. You and your prospect exchange greetings and then you start with casual things. If you did your prospect research (which is a must), this part will come naturally to you. You can ask questions related to your prospect’s location, latest achievements, changes in their industry, etc. If your prospect spoke with other SDRs previously, recall what they talked about and ask for clarifications:

I know you spoke with [SDR] previously and mentioned wanting to expand to Illinois. Did you mean that you are planning on selling your anti-malware product? Or do you want to promote your entire catalog of products?

2) Company introduction (optional). If you do your email outreach right, 95% of your sales conversations will start with “Nice to meet you at last. Now let’s get started”. Introducing your company and outlining your services used to be a necessary formality between a vendor and a client. But right now B2B buyers have become less patient and more eager to talk shop. So, you’d want your prospect to talk first. Ask them to describe their company, their teams, their goals, and their values. 

It’s good to finally hear you, [Name]. Can you please tell me more about your company? 

3) Defining the need.  Yes, BANT starts with B, but BANT-based conversations start with N. Starting your questions with “How much money do you plan to invest in us?” makes no sense. Also, it’s rude. Thus, you need to qualify your prospect by defining how much they need your product and how your product can be applied. 

  • So, what are your main channels for generating new clients? 
  • Who is your target audience? 
  • What’s your average bill? How much does it cost you to close a deal? How many stages are included in your sales pipeline? 
  • What about outbound marketing? Have you tried it? 

4) Discussing the budget. After you establish the need, it’s time to establish the price fit. At this point, your goal is to define how your product can help your prospect to optimize their expenses and offer better ROI. This is why your questions should be directed at your prospect’s experience, not at your benefit. 

  • How much does it cost you to convert a lead? Have you planned on adding more flexibility to your customer acquisition?
  • If we make 10 appointments for you and your sales teams close 20% of them with an average bill of (client’s average bill) for a (sum), will you find that CAC acceptable?

5) Outlining the possibilities.  This is where you refer to your case studies and success stories related to your prospect’s industries, bring up big names that are familiar to your prospects, your average conversion rates, and progress at CAC reduction with your existing clients. It’s important to show what your prospect can achieve with your services and share that vision with them.   

This model worked for our client {CompanyName}. We have covered their outreach since {Month/Year}. Their average sales cycle went from X months to X months, with average CAC going down to X%. 

6) Asking if it’s the right time. If your N and B are in the perfect synergy, there shouldn’t be any problems with timing. You know that if your prospect has the opportunity to work with you and a good reason to work with you. 

However, it doesn’t mean that there is no need for you to clarify the timeline. Don’t assume that your prospect will automatically know your working plan. Don’t start anything without your prospect’s approval — even such minor things as sending them a contract for signing. 

  • What is the deadline for your project?
  • Are there any 
  • When would you like to get started? 

7) Involving all decision-makers.  Sometimes, you will be selling to executives and directors who make all the decisions. But sometimes, you will also be speaking with someone who is a part of a decision-making group. Therefore, it’ll take you more than just one phone call to find the person who will set things in motion. The process of communicating with every decision-making unit can be long and outright chaotic, so you should stay in control. 

How many titles will be involved in working with the product? Would it make sense to speak with {TitleName} about the offer? 

8) Summing things up. After qualifying your prospect, it’s time to finalize your discussion. Give a short summary of your conversation and map out your next steps. Whether your prospect agreed to try out your test package or schedule another call with you, go through each stage of your conversation step-by-step, book a slot in a calendar, say goodbye and wish your prospect a great day. 

  • Thank you for taking the time to chat. It was a pleasure to meet you and I’m looking forward to speaking to you again on Tuesday. 
  • So, just to summarize…

Don’t forget to send your prospect a follow-up email with a summary of your appointment and the date of your next appointment. 

 

Is that all?

 

While it’s not hard to qualify your leads when you know the structure, there is a reason why we keep reminding you about research and data enrichment. Staying in close touch with our Lead Research department allows us to create and add additional criteria to our qualification process: 

  • Internal changes. By monitoring LinkedIn and various industry-specific platforms, we stay informed about the activities in the prospect’s company. For example, if we see a spike in outsourcing or an increase in demand for certain professionals, it allows us to outline our prospect’s priorities and discuss them during a call.
  • Decision-makers. This is a small secret — never stop at just one decision-maker in the company. Look through each of them and reach out to the newest decision-maker in the group. In our experience, decision-makers who arrived 6 months ago (or earlier) are more active and eager to improve the company’s revenue. They have the motivation and the budget — so they would become your support in your sales campaign.

 

Avoid these 4 mistakes

We can’t start talking about closing deals and NOT bring up the mistakes that can ruin everything. In our practice, we’ve seen many cases when those mistakes resulted in losing a promising deal, without any chances of no-show recovery or prospect retention.

4 Mistakes in Closing Deals


Mistake # 1. Taking prospects by storm

“Hi Dan, pleased to meet you. So, when I can send you the contract?”

Being confident and assertive = good. 

Being pushy = bad.

Forcing your prospect to make a buying decision in your first call = absolutely unacceptable. 

It’s a mistake that many enthusiastic, yet inexperienced salespeople make. After reading a sales success book or two, they start their work so eager to turn the tables on the entire process or closing sales that they launch themselves into a conversation and take no prisoners. 

That’s a firm NO. If prospects tolerated such an approach, they wouldn’t be adding their business numbers to the no-call list to avoid telemarketers. Moreover, whenever they take a call with a sales rep, they anticipate being bullied into making a buying decision or having their every word twisted to the sales rep’s advantage. You must not add to this anticipation, but to make it go away, get your prospects to relax and speak about their wishes freely. 
 

Mistake # 2. Not caring about long-term relationships

Not all deals are scored in one call. Not all long-time clients say “Yes” in the first conversation. However, around 65% of sales reps give up after they hear “No, thank you” or “I have a vendor already”. By giving up we mean that:

  • They instantly hang up. Yes, it happens. Sometimes, you can feel the enthusiasm fading away from their speech, then they start finding excuses to end the conversation and say their goodbyes in a hurry. Sometimes, they literally hang up on you, but that’s bad manners. Anyways, you should avoid both of these patterns. Even if you feel that there is no point in speaking with a non-interested prospect, leaving so soon pretty much establishes you as uncaring or self-centered. So, even when your prospects find themselves in need of your product or service, they would rather turn to your competitors than return to you.
  • They don’t ask questions. It’s alright to back away. But you should do it gracefully. Show your appreciation and thank your prospects for taking their time to speak with you. Clarify what made your prospects hesitant about your offer. Agree with their concerns and carefully address them if your time allows it. Invite your prospects to a free consultation on any matters that you may help them with.
  • They don’t nurture. After hearing ‘No’, most sales representatives burn all the bridges and disappear from the radar. However, if the prospect who rejected still matches your ICP perfectly, it’s a missed opportunity. Remember, nothing lasts forever: opinions change, the demand for new solutions and assets grows. Also, relying on the leads that need your solutions right here, right now may backfire when you enter your slow season. This is why, when parting ways with your reluctant prospects, you should ask their permission to send some educational or informational materials every now and then.
Type of nurturing content

By doing so, you get the opportunity to regularly remind them about yourself — and not get labeled as spam by sending unwanted content.
 
What will you get from playing this long game? At least, it’s visibility. At best, your insights may get your prospects interested in exploring your company further and even giving it a second look when the need arises.

Mistake # 3. Ignoring trends

Every industry depends on the myriad of things. Technological innovations, new laws, fall of the industrial titans, force majeures can all turn the tide. In that scenario, the first company to adjust wins the race. 

So, if you contact your prospects in the middle of Microsoft shutdown (that sounds unlikely but still) and casually ask them if they need advanced anti-malware for Microsoft platform, don’t be surprised when they don’t show any enthusiasm. 

Staying ignorant of the trends leaves you blind to an opportunity. For example, if you know that a major ESM manufacturer is sunsetting its product (which is very similar to your product), it’s high time to look at their list of customers and connect with them.  

 

Mistake # 4. Putting too much faith in one decision-maker

Finding an ally in the prospect’s company is half of the battle. When you need to close a deal with an entire decision-making group, don’t expect one person to do all the work for you. The title that agreed to give you a chance can only present your offer to the rest of the decision-makers but not convince them to choose you. Especially, if those decision-makers have never heard of you.

This is why we suggest reaching out to at least 3 relevant titles within one company. Mind, that if you work with large businesses, you may need at least 10 contacts to secure your success. In general, the more people know about you, the less friction you have to deal with. 

Does it mean that you have to repeat the same process of introducing yourself to each and every prospect?

Not really. You can contact one decision-maker and ask to CC your email to the people involved in the decision-making process.  If that’s not possible for some reason, then you will have to send a couple of hand-crafted referral templates and ask for a call. 
 

Key takeaways

How do you close sales deals? By keeping your sales process organized and removing all potential obstacles before they start causing problems. 

  • Don’t overload your team with tasks. Divide responsibilities. Let sales executives close sales while lead researchers and SDRs assist them with data and nurturing.
  • Avoid confusion and never miss any important details by using the BANT system while structuring your approach.
  • Rely on your research department to mine new individual criteria that will help you find more companies that meet your unique qualifiers and let you enrich your sales arguments.
  • Stay tuned to your market’s health and your prospects’ concerns to keep your sales pipeline functional and your unique value proposition relevant.
  • Don’t forget to remain flexible and natural in your conversation. Don’t be stiff and by-the-book, listen to your prospect’s answers and address them in a professional, knowledgeable manner.