Moving prospects through the sales pipeline
Use micro conversions in your sales calls to move prospects along your sales pipeline.
By Zen Newman, Marketing Analyst at PipelineDeals
We’re all familiar with the ABCs of selling; “always be closing”. This tired expression is not as popular as it once was and seems to exist as an object of derision in contemporary pulp sales literature. Always be closing is a strategy in which a sales rep is always on the hunt. More than a technique, it represents a mindset. In a sales rep’s day-to-day, it means being on the lookout for new leads and new opportunities to set presentations. In the sales call itself, the method has become synonymous with aggressive and pushy sales tactics that are unappreciated by anyone on the receiving end.
The distaste experienced in this approach has led to it falling out of favor. In spite of this, always be closing gets at an important underlying mentality in sales. Moving a sale towards a close requires a vision of where you’d like the sale to end up. Getting a prospect from where you are currently to your end goal is, in no uncertain terms, what the sales pipeline represents. I propose a reworking of the always be closing concept in recognition of the distasteful associations with the strategy. Any seasoned sales professional can attest to the importance of having intent in the direction you take an account. Accordingly, I propose, “always know what you’re closing towards”.
The same seasoned sales professionals that would acknowledge the importance of having a preplanned direction for your prospects would also agree that it’s not always appropriate to be closing towards a purchase. Closing a sale can be a delicate process and asking for the sale at the beginning of the needs analysis is not only presumptive, but enough of a transgression to lose a sale. Instead, sales professionals need to take a lesson from marketing in building their sales pipeline and look for opportunities to create micro conversions.
Micro conversions are the mini closes that move a prospect down the sales funnel, first from marketing to sales and ultimately to the close. They can include actions ranging from downloading a case study from a website to getting a prospect to agree to a face to face meeting to getting their buy-in on to listen to a presentation following an initial needs analysis call. These moments in the sales process don’t create a sale on their own, but taken together; they move the prospect towards the moment of truth.
Successfully closing to these micro conversions requires strategizing in the same way that we plan to close a sale. When engaging a prospect in a sales meeting, first, take stock of where they are in the buying process. From there, identify what actions both of you need to make the relationship a success. These needs can include confidence building, needs analysis, greater product knowledge, and buy-in from additional decision makers. When planning the direction of the call, tailor your message to influence these fundamental needs. If the first goal is to be to get them to sit down to a meeting to discuss their needs, then sell to the appointment as your primary objective. The goal of each sales call should be to ensure the stated purpose of the call is successful and to set the prospect up for the next micro conversion down the line.
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Closing a sale is an activity that demands trust on the part of the buyer and a deep understanding of their needs on the part of the seller. Trying to close on a sale too early in the process amounts to a breach of trust. Instead, strengthen the relationship as it moves through the sales pipeline by achieving small milestones together. Focusing on each milestone in the sales pipeline allows for a smoother and more efficient sales process while still providing the focus needed to move the sale forward.
Always be closing is a relic of the 20th century. Always know what you’re closing to is the mark of a well thought out sales process. Happy selling.
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