The greatest piece of sales advice I ever received was from my very first sales manager who would always say, "Time is the killer of all deals." Not so coincidentally, it took me some time - and some lost sales - to fully understand exactly what he meant.
He began by telling me that sales is a transfer of enthusiasm; meaning all purchases made by humans are based on emotional decisions. My job as a salesperson was to get people so excited about my solution that they would actually feel good about making a purchase. Getting someone to feel good about writing a check was not exactly easy to do.
As it relates to time, we modern sales people now have a smaller window of time to win or lose a deal than ever before. Given this very small window, it is critical we use the technology at our disposal to help people buy when they are ready and to let people do research when they are not.
Here are 3 strategic ways to use data and technology to maintain enthusiasm and make the best use of time with your leads:
Align your Marketing Technology with Your CRM
First, you need to enable sales by making sure sales and marketing are properly aligned. Our marketing technology needs be integrated with our CRM so that both sales and marketing can see what each other is doing; but more importantly, what the customer is doing.
But simply having an all-in-one solution like HubSpot is not enough to align your efforts. You must go through the process of setting up your system to take advantage of its capabilities.
One way to do this is by setting up workflows for your hot and spicy leads. Here are a couple to consider:
Highly Engaged Leads Who Have Not Filled out a Contact Us Form
- Criteria: Contact watches greater than 75% of video, downloads an ebook, and visits more than 5 pages on the website
- Triggers: Email to sales to follow up on lead and see what they're looking for
Contact Us Requests for Partnerships
- Criteria: Contact fills out Contact Us form, but selects "partnership" as their interest
- Triggers: An automated email with more in-depth information on your partnership program, along with next steps
- Contact also flows into a separate marketing funnel so as not to bog down the sales pipeline
Utilize Marketing to Engage Prospects Early and Late
Your Marketing team needs to satisfy the buyer's appetite for information by feeding them content that helps the buyer do their research and make a purchase. Ideally, marketing can engage prospects early in the buying process and nurture them into sales leads with content that outlines a clear path to purchase.
From there, marketing can assist sales in maintaining enthusiasm. You see, buyers' enthusiasm wears off very quickly. Nobody remains excited about spending money for extended periods of time. So time becomes your enemy in sales. As more time passes, excitement wains and you are less and less likely to get that sale. Then to add insult to injury, time allows uncontrollable events to creep in and sabotage your sales.
Use Marketing Data to Inform Your Sales Approach
As a salesperson who is benefitting from customer data being provided by marketing, your job is now to use this information to adapt your approach to prospects based on their preferences and by knowing where they are in the buying process.
Salespeople without this information are at a huge disadvantage selling in the current marketplace. Not only will they not be presented with the same opportunities, but they’ll be forced to try to extract information from customers that has been gathered at every step by their competitors. And in most cases, their timing is going to be off.
For example, I noticed that the sales people around me were always recommending a “two week” follow up after a presentation. There was no particular reason for two weeks. There was no strategy or event tied to those two weeks. It was just an arbitrary follow up time. Meanwhile, my manager suggested I always follow up with them the next day.
The other guys would wait exactly two weeks to follow up with their prospect. When they did, they would follow up to learn they were pitched by two competitors during the two weeks. Now the prospect can’t remember the details of your proposal, what made you different, and is only focused on a slightly higher price tag. Time killed the deal.
So what can you, the sales person, do to prevent Father Time from slaying your best deals?
The answer is not to use sales tactics or high pressure closes. After years of being subjected to high pressure sales people, buyers now do everything they can just to avoid sales people. Today’s buyer no longer relies on sales for information and can use the internet to research products and services on their own. Only as a last step before making a purchase do buyers reluctantly engage a sales person.
Another way to prevent the death of your deal is to avoid approaching prospects too early in their buying process. Allow the prospect to self-serve information for a bit or to engage with marketing first. For example, it is rarely a good practice to call someone when their first interaction with your company is downloading a whitepaper. Unless you have information that tells you more about where they are in the buying process, that person is simply doing research and a nagging sales person could turn them away for good.
By utilizing all the power behind your technology tools and the information behind your marketing efforts, you'll be able to develop and maintain enthusiasm with your prospects throughout the buyer's journey. And Father Time will have to go elsewhere to find a victim.
Want some more tips on how to improve your sales process? Check out this full-length presentation from our friends at Proposify by clicking here.