“A.B.C.: Always Be Closing!”
Alec Baldwin thundered this directive to a burned-out sales team in Glengarry Glen Ross, a 30-year-old film that’s still quoted today, but modern selling takes more than an eloquent phone pitch to a suspicious lead. It requires a strategic sales process that includes as much research and listening as it does “selling.”
For more sales success — and to keep the angry Alec Baldwins off your back — keep these steps in mind:
Prospect. “Always be prospecting” should be your motto as you lay the foundation of your sales process by identifying your target market: the people (or companies) who are the best fit for your services (guarding, patrol, surveillance, etc.). These demographics should be based on your best customers, such as job title, industry, and location. This information will drive your marketing and sales efforts as you prospect for leads.
Connect and qualify leads. After generating leads from various sources, determine which are worth the time and effort to continue the sales process.
You can first determine how well your initial information about the lead aligns with your ideal customer profile. Still, you will need to directly connect with them to fill in any blanks regarding:
- How well they understand your service
- The lead’s pain points (crime, loitering, etc.) — and how your service helps
- Whether they have the budget to purchase your offering
- The purchasing authority at the organization — does the contact makes the final decision?
- How long it could take to close the sale — and any potential roadblocks during the process
- Whether the contact can become a sales champion who will advocate (even help sell) to their organization on your behalf.
Do your research. Once you have confirmed the lead is a good fit, you are ready to start preparing your formal pitch. It should be more than a one-size-fits-all rundown of your offering’s features and benefits — the lead will care more that you know their business than they know yours.
Fortunately, you can get up-to-speed with your lead’s company through the internet, from its website and social media feeds to issues impacting its industry to the backgrounds of the people to whom you will be presenting.
If the contact is already engaged and interested in bringing your solution to their organization, they could become valuable sales champions to help you win the account.
Overall, the point of this research is to connect what you’re selling with what they’re buying, meaning their desired business outcomes and pain points they want to overcome.
Develop a solid presentation. It’s showtime — the most “sales” part of the sales process — with a personalized presentation to meld the information you have gathered about the lead with the details of your offering. It should be more of a story than a canned pitch and, if possible, include the successes of similar customers. Keep your audience engaged by asking open-ended questions and granting them opportunities to ask their questions. By making your presentation more of a dialogue, you build trust.
Be prepared for objections. It’s not often that a lead will interrupt your presentation to demand: “I’m Sold!” You are going to confront protests throughout the entire sales process. You want to not only welcome them but also address them — even within your presentation, when appropriate and possible.
Some of these objections are about the customer — they do not have the budget, your solution isn’t a priority, they are happy with their current provider — while others are related directly to your services, such as pricing or quality.
When an objection is raised, it’s essential to show empathy and ensure the concern is valid and not a misunderstanding. It is also possible you will receive an objection during your presentation that you cannot immediately answer. It may be a technical question; in which case you should note that you will follow up (and avoid derailing the rest of the presentation).
Close the deal. If you have done your research, thwarted objections, and made a personalized pitch to the prospect, then you have moved your lead throughout the sales funnel to the point where closing the deal is the most logical step. Just note that many organizations won’t decide on the spot, so before you end the meeting, be sure to schedule a time to regroup.
Measure your results. Your firm’s success is about more than how many leads were converted to customers. How long is the average sales cycle? Which marketing touchpoints have been most effective? What are the rates of closing, upselling, and churn? To improve your sales process, you’ll need data. Therefore, you should use a customer relationship management (CRM) tool as a centralized platform to manage and track your relationships with customers and provide other benefits such as collecting how other members of your organization are interacting with the customer and automating many marketing tasks.