Q4 is about Closing. Many companies still have time to prospect and get through the sales cycle between today and New Year's Eve; but for others, you're 13 months into a deal and you need it to make your quota.
A recent Lusha study gave some great statistics on data from 500 reps & managers across a fairly well distributed group on why your sales people aren't closing:
- 50% of sales pitches don’t stand out
- 33% deliver poor sales demos
- 29% have insufficient sales decks
- 19% lack sales enablement materials
Let's break these down into what you can do to support your sales teams with the right playbook elements for closing in Q4.
Sales pitches really come down to three key components that need to be in lock step. SRi refers to this as part of a selling system. A disjointed pitch will kill your deal if you don't know WHO, WHAT, and HOW to sell.
Step 1: Know WHO your'e talking to. Prospect personas are the foundation of your pitch, each sales rep needs to understand the differences between the personas, what matters to them, how they get paid, what they care about, what they value, etc. There are variations, but it's best to start with a well-documented baseline.
Step 2: Know WHAT to ask. When a rep is absorbing a lot of new information, it can be difficult, especially for new reps, to ask questions that move the deal forward. General curiosity is one thing, but the questions that dig deeper/ build trust/ move the deal forward, are a different matter.
Step 3: Know HOW to progress the deal. What is the next step? Who do I bring into the deal? What competitors do I have, and how do I beat them? When do I start the close? Even from the first pitch, these steps and stages should be well known as part of the sales process, and transitions between stages can be coached.
Step 1: Practice, practice, practice. Practice the demo, but practice the objections that arise at certain screens (please have GREAT responses for your top 5 objections), practice the customer stories at certain points during the demo, practice differently based on audience.
Step 2: Tone and equipment. I read once that only 5-10% of people have a naturally pleasant speaking voice. Chances are, you need to develop a pitch voice that doesn't detract from your personality, but is nicer to listen to than your friends and family are used to. Think about radio talk show hosts - they don't sounds normal, they sound better. Just something to think about.
Step 3: Unexpected benefits. This is what sets you apart from your pesky competitors. When you compare side by side, many solutions look similar. It's the unexpected benefits of your solution (true story telling, value selling) that helps your prospect move from evaluation to imagination.
I've probably built upwards of 100 sales decks, and there is one rule I've learned: It has to match your prospect. Generic decks are great to start, but personalized is paramount. Humor, used sparingly with managed accounts you have a relationship with, can go a long way. Decks are part of the art of sales, more than the science. That said, there are some steps that help:
Step 1: Tailor the deck to your prospect. Have 8-12 standard slides (for many sales applications, 20 tops), then a marketing approved template to add prospect-specific details. We understand this, I recognize your timeline is that, help me understand XYZ, etc.
Step 2: Do not read your slides. Slides are the support for sales story telling, explanations, case studies, to pass on to execs, etc. No slide should have more than 50 words; 6 lines of 6 words should be the rule of thumb. Prospect reading time pulls away from rep selling time.
Step 3: Don't go nuts with pictures and politics. We've all seen too many ads lately that just miss the mark. Don't go on a personal vendetta to sell your product, let the product and your customers speak for themselves. Know your customers, your message, and assume nothing. Many executives outright dismiss over-assumption in this area.
Sales Enablement Materials
Step 1 - Let marketing know what you need. Spoon-feed the key messages your prospects need to hear to close - they can be different than the top-of-funnel messages that marketing may be using today. Beating competitors at the top of the funnel and the bottom of the funnel can require very different messages.
Step 2 - Categorize your materials by industry, and by prospect persona. The same way that prospects in healthcare industries want to hear about healthcare stories, a CTO story has a different value proposition than CEO or COO. This is critical to value selling.
Step 3 - Call an all-hands training. Don't let your team fail to see the forest through the trees. What I mean by that in this context is that you need to show the new material, who it plays to, how to use it, and how to talk about it. A 15 minute meeting here can dramatically increase the effectiveness of the materials that have been created.
If you want a more cohesive plan, or support building out these essential components, leave your information in the form below and we will be in touch shortly. We're here to help.