Sales reps get hundreds, if not thousands, of leads per year, and following up on any particular one can eat up a huge amount of time. Let’s face it – we have all chased our fair share of rabbits into the woods. That is why we are so frequently asked by clients how Outside-In can help increase a sales team’s close rates. Well, as with everything Outside-In, we start by shifting our focus away from how you are selling and look at how your customers are buying. Ask yourself, “What is the best way for sales reps to prioritize their contacts?”
Simple. Focus on customers with 100% close rates.
Despite being so obvious, some of you might be thinking a close rate that high is mythical, impractical, or completely unattainable. However, there are customers who are guaranteed to close on a deal. These buyers share two specific qualities: first, they are actually interested in your offering, and, just as importantly, are able to make the journey from real interest to commitment.
Customers are interested in countless offerings, but only commit to a few – not because of poor selling, but because their path from interest to commitment is either too difficult or unclear. This is not a new phenomenon either. We have performed customer interviews for decades and there has always been a plurality of buyers who cannot readily tell you how they get through this process. That is why as a sales rep, you must help them along that journey. Customers who successfully navigate their end-to-end Buying Journey close 100% of the time, while those who do not will never buy. With that in mind, here are 3 rules to follow when guiding the customer through their Buying Journey.
1. Take an Outside-In approach to selling
Start by considering what it takes for your customer to get from an interest in your offering to a commitment to it. In an overwhelming number of cases, we have seen that this has nothing to do with the value of your product or service, and more to do with the obstacles, known or unknown, in your customer’s way. Understanding these hurdles and quickly assessing your customer’s ability to clear them is fast and effective way to improve your win rate.
2. Focus your time on customers that you can help move from interest to commitment
Before you leave that third voicemail, look for the resistance and decide whether you can overcome it. Sometimes, stepping back a moment will show you that reframing your offering around a new, more pressing customer problem or addressing a lingering concern in a novel way will secure commitment. Other times, you will realize the battle cannot be won. If turns out to be the latter, there is no shame in moving on.
3. Don’t confuse interest in your offering for a commitment to buy
Spending time with people who love your offering may feel productive and like a deal is progressing, but if the resistance in the organization is not addressed, then you are likely to hear “I’m sorry…just can’t do this right now” at the last minute. No matter the industry, your biggest competitor will always be No Decision. Even if you have supporters, determining whether the prospect is even capable of making a commitment, or whether they are simply educating themselves at your expense, is a key element of the Outside-In sales approach.