One of the biggest disconnects in business today is that most selling processes do not adapt in time with shifts in the marketplace. As a result, closing rates suffer.
This is according to new research by the Sales Benchmark Index, which also found there were three specific obstacles to closing today.
We’ve listed those three obstacles below, along with some proven strategies for triumphing over each of them and increasing closing rates.
1. Process not specific to each prospect’s need
In a buyer’s market, the salesperson who can adjust to satisfy each customer’s expressed needs is in a much better position to improve closing rates. It may even work to the salesperson’s advantage to spend some time researching the prospect’s preferences before moving into advanced stages of the selling process. This way, the salesperson not only builds a certain degree of rapport, he or she also gains a sense of how the prospect’s company handles major buying decisions, and who else might be involved in the final decision.
2. No emphasis on relationship selling
Nearly a third of customers admit they’re more reluctant now than at any point in the past to agree to a long-term service contract with one supplier. The most common reason: Once the initial contract is signed, customers fear they’ll become little more than a number, left to resolve minor (and major) issues by themselves — or via an anonymous service rep or online complaint form.
Salespeople may be able to use that to their advantage by demonstrating how committed they are to partnering with each customer throughout the duration of their business relationship. Make it clear that you’ll assume full responsibility for ensuring each prospect’s needs are met before, during and after the sale. Whenever possible, reinforce that pledge by over-delivering on promises, and maintaining consistent, one-on-one communication with each buyer.
Some salespeople even prefer to take comprehensive notes throughout the process, thereby ensuring none of the prospect’s passing comments or specifications fall between the cracks.
What may seem like a minor request at the moment could have a major impact when it comes time for the prospect to decide whether he or she feels comfortable enough to move forward with the sale.
3. Substituting features for value
The majority of salespeople make it a point to differentiate their features and benefits from those of top competitors.
Where the bulk of those salespeople fall short, according to buyers, is in going the extra mile to demonstrate what makes their offer better than a competitor’s.
Most prospects believe they have a relatively firm grasp on what separates one offer from another, simply based on each company’s key selling points, values and marketing strategy.
What makes it much easier for buyers to justify a major purchase is some reasonable assurance that the reward will far outweigh the risk. Case studies and statistics are tremendous assets in a competitive situation like this. But so is the sense that — rather than just peddling products — the salesperson is offering a solution that will enable the prospect to operate more efficiently, perhaps even eliminating costly obstacles the buyer wasn’t even aware existed.