How to Always Be Closing Sales
Often closing sales is the goal of virtually every transaction involving a business and its customers.
The best closing sales tips encompass not only how to close a deal, but also how to look at the broad spectrum of sales, lead generation, marketing, the customer life cycle, and long-term customer retention. All of these activities contribute significantly to achievement of that all-important objective: how to close a deal.
Marketing efforts are only as effective as the results they produce. In addition to creating well-planned marketing campaigns, salespeople must also qualify the leads they generate. Generating a lot of leads is noteworthy, but it's the qualified leads that often convert into customers.
Closing out sales: Tips to generate more revenue for your business
As businesses emerge and re-open throughout the COVID-19 outbreak, business owners are understandably concerned about attracting new customers and retaining the customers they previously had.
According to a recent Paychex survey, one in three business owners expressed concern they will have insufficient customer demand when they reopen. At the same time, they are cautiously optimistic that recovery time will take three or fewer months.
A lot depends, of course, on knowing how to close the deal when the time comes.
Yielding better leads
Qualified leads are those with a strong interest in your business and its products or services. To generate strong leads from your marketing tactics, try thinking outside the "paid advertising box."
With social distancing and other restrictions in place, it's safe to assume that increased numbers of prospective customers will do their shopping online. In many cases, this will occur within the context of mobile devices. The ability to leverage emerging digital (and mobile device) technologies will be a key element in your customer acquisition and lead generation strategies.
The good news is, employing these technologies can give you a competitive advantage over other businesses that fail to adopt these methods or do so at a slower pace. Here are digital lead-yielding strategies to modify and implement within your own business:
Create a business website. Even before the pandemic, having a website in place--that's both highly informative and easy to navigate--was a business necessity. Now, it's just about impossible to envision much revenue-generating activity without such a website. Remember, many prospective customers will want to visit your site before engaging with you in order to determine what precautions you are taking to ensure adequate protection for customers and employees.
Publish a company newsletter. Include helpful, high-value content that keeps existing and potential customers interested and excited about what you have to say. Consider offering special deals, industry tips, or other relevant content.
Run an email marketing campaign. Keeping in regular contact with your target audience is more important than ever. A focused, ongoing email marketing campaign enables customers to remember you the next time they need something you have to offer. You can also increase the value of the emails you distribute by occasionally including coupons or deals available only to your email recipients.
Place a "subscribe" form on your website. Automate the subscription process so your mailing list can grow. Ask for only the most basic information from would-be subscribers, so they're more likely to request ongoing notifications.
Network. The traditional approach to business networking involves getting out in your community by taking public speaking gigs, sponsoring a community event, and/or joining a small networking group of like-minded professionals.
Digital networking is equally viable, in terms of potentially yielding more leads. Focus your efforts on sites like LinkedIn, where you can share news about your company, valuable "inside tips," and other helpful information new customers can grow to depend on. This builds credibility in your brand, which can be essential in attracting new customers.
Get involved in social media marketing. Social media is arguably the best way to engage in an ongoing conversation with your customers, where you can learn from them and they can learn from you. But remember, social media is a two-way communication channel; if someone asks you a question or airs a complaint, don't ignore it. By responding quickly (and professionally), you'll show that you care about your customers' happiness.
In the Paychex business owner survey mentioned above, a quarter of those surveyed reported they have significantly updated their technology since the pandemic began. They are also focused, as you should be, on increasing their use of social media and boosting their presence there.
Solicit customer reviews. Input from customers can often generate interest among others who read reviews of your business on Yelp or other similar sites. Encourage your satisfied customers to write brief, laudatory reviews and then promote the favorable response elsewhere on your social media platforms.
Offer a referral bonus and reward your best customers. Sometimes your best customers can also be your best marketing tool. Keep them happy and they will gladly recommend you to their friends and family.
Other ways to enhance your customer referral process include:
- Make the process convenient. Customers are much more inclined to refer your business if it doesn't require considerable time or effort on their part. Set up an easy-to-navigate referral form on your website, which customers can easily complete and submit. Be sure this automated system quickly acknowledges receipt of such referrals, along with related thank-you email messages and reminder notices.
- Pay attention to the timing of referrals. Consider requesting a customer referral immediately upon completing a transaction with a satisfied customer. Don't just ask once and forget about it. Politely remind the customer again once every two or three months.
Generally speaking, satisfied customers will be happy to refer others to your business. But they like to be asked first!
Lead Generation Tips
The campaign to generate promising sales leads involves several other key tactics worth pursuing. Keep these tips in mind:
Craft a strong call-to-action. Prospective customers are often moved along the purchasing journey with a compelling call-to-action. To help ensure the effectiveness of your call-to-action:
- Keep the wording concise, to the point, and action-oriented.
- Separate the call-to-action message from other content in your business emails, website, social media posts, etc. Don't let it get lost in other content. The message should be easy to spot (for example, "above the fold" on your home page) with a clear direction as to what to do next, such as "Click here."
Use a landing page to guide your prospects. When a visitor clicks on a call-to-action, it should take them to a dedicated landing page where they will gain access to whatever you are offering them, such as an eBook, white paper, newsletter registration, etc. Directing them to your homepage or a product page will only distract and frustrate them.
Make sure the landing page is very user-friendly. Avoid cluttering the page with advertising copy, visually distracting graphics, and so on. The key is producing landing page content that's short, to the point, and features lists and bullet points.
Focus on benefits, not product features. Your product undoubtedly offers a range of features you'd like to promote as part of the sales process. A better option is focusing on benefits the prospective customer will enjoy from purchasing this product. Answering a customer's fundamental question, "What's in it for me?", draws them to the next steps in the sales journey.
Keep your lead forms simple. Don't make the mistake of asking for too much information at the beginning of the sales process. Simply ask for the basics (name, contact info), so that would-be customers are more inclined to comply and keep the process moving forward.
The art of closing a sale
People want to buy from sales representatives who convey enthusiasm about their product or service. Key sales tips include:
Learn when to stop talking. Generally, the best approach with prospects is to listen rather than talk, and to ask questions, rather than drone on about your product's many benefits. The right questions lead to fruitful conversations, which in turn can lead to a better understanding of the customer's needs and challenges.
Build empathy. Prospects want to feel like the person selling to them genuinely has their best interests at heart. Empathy is the basis for a meaningful customer relationship, coming naturally out of being able to listen to what the customer says (and what goes unsaid) and offering the most efficient and cost-effective solutions available.
Serve as a valued resource. Whenever possible, share the expertise you have (even if this doesn't directly lead to closing a sale), because over time you can establish a bond that makes selling and closing easier.
Be closing from the outset. An honest, forthright approach is generally preferable to a hard-sell effort. Prospects should understand that you want to sell a product or service that can genuinely benefit their own business. They want to conduct transactions in an atmosphere of mutual respect and honesty. Make clear you're not engaged in any sort of sales "gotcha" game, but rather wish to work towards a close that feels like the organic conclusion to the process.
Recognize the buying signs. An assertive salesperson can sometimes miss clear buying signals from the prospect that indicate the deal is nearly done. Questions such as, "Can you tell me how long delivery will take?" or "Are additional upgrades available?" suggest the prospect has made up their mind and is ready to move forward. Answer questions like these and then close the deal.
Competing with other companies
Small businesses must contend with the challenge posed by other businesses in the same industry. Some of these competitors will be much larger, with far greater resources. How can you compete?
Emphasize your unique value proposition. The benefits your business offers to customers should form the foundation of your unique value proposition. Your sales team should emphasize whatever sets you apart (less cost, better service, or higher-quality value) into their all-purpose sales pitch.
Speed up your response time. Larger competitors often take longer to respond to customer inquiries or are slower to talk about a sale. While cultivating sales leads, be sure to respond quickly when a prospect shows interest. Don't rely upon an automated response. Let prospect know immediately of your interest in exploring solutions for their companies.
Promote your business strengths. Cost isn't always, or even the predominant, factor in a prospect's decision to make a deal. If your small business does a better job delivering a product or service on or ahead of schedule — or provides extended service beyond the date of delivery — make this part of your sales pitch.
Take steps to boost customer retention
The sales process never ends just because a sale is closed. Every business wants (and often depends upon) retaining the customers it acquires. Here are ways to convert one-time customers into repeat business:
Make customer service a priority. Establish internal systems that support front-line employees to deal with virtually any type of customer-interaction situation, often empowering employees to make on-the-spot decisions, rather than passing along customer inquiries and complaints elsewhere. Measure the results of employees' customer service efforts and reward employees who excel in this area.
Survey your repeat customers. Consider distributing a quick, easy-to-complete survey to your most valued customers, seeking details on why they keep coming back, what they like about your business, what areas might be worth improving, and any other thoughts they might have. Be sure the format you choose for the survey (email, website, social media) makes it convenient for them to respond. Offering a discount on their next purchase is a good incentive for them to do so.
Highlight customers in your communications. Customers often need to be politely reminded that your business exists. Distribute an email newsletter that focuses on customer-centric news and features. Interview loyal customers and feature them on your website, in your newsletter, and in other promotional materials with their permission.
Say "thank you" and stay in touch. After a sale (or any customer interaction), a brief, personalized "thank you" speaks volumes about the value you place on staying in touch with both customers and the people in your professional network. Have an automated "thank you" message appear with every product fulfillment or in a separate, follow-up email. Just be careful to word this message in a way that avoids coming off as generic or insincere.
Share tips, insights, and information you find online. Customers who receive informative updates and insights from a business may return when the time is right. In your social media activity, generously share helpful "how-to" articles and videos you come across. When you share content that solves a customer's pressing problems — without a pushy sales message — you can build tremendous goodwill for future interactions.
Closing sales and boosting customer retention are among every small business's highest priorities. By following the tips and suggestions offered here, you stand a far greater chance of making the sales that help keep your business thriving. Find out more about effective online marketing techniques and also about resources to help maintain the success of your business as the economy seeks to move past the coronavirus pandemic.