5 Tactics to Help Drive Pipeline and Close H2 2020 Deals
Keeping a healthy pipeline that moves along at velocity is no easy task at the best of times
Head of Sales
For the past couple of weeks, we’ve all had prospects pulling the plug on deals and mutual launch plans being thrown out the window. And while 20% of the world’s population is under lockdown, we’ve all had to adjust our ways of working internally and externally.
With the UK going into week five I can only feel a sense of optimism and positivity as a remote workforce starts to get back to business as usual. Ultimately, we all still have customers that need our support. Here are five tactics that I hope will help you drive your pipeline forward and win.
1. Ask for Referrals
The one constant is that people trust their friends, family and colleagues and will most likely turn to their network when buying a new TV, a pair of shoes and even B2B software. It is not hard to believe that 84% of buyers start the process with a referral.
Sadly, us sales and marketing folk are among the least trusted people out there, 3% to be exact. People are also becoming more skeptical and less patient. So, the very first thing to do: become customer-obsessed. Be remarkable and this will make you referable and give people something awesome to talk about. It starts with you.
Being proactive and not waiting to act once the pipeline starts to slow down will limit your reliance on those accidental referrals and will drive a referral program filled with those ICP accounts you need to be speaking to now. Always remember to:
Recognise and thank your referrers. Thank you goes a long way and could even encourage them to do it more often! You can give them a public shout-out on LinkedIn or go that extra step and send them a gift to say thanks.
Look beyond your customers. Every customer was once a prospect and if you are remarkable throughout the journey there will be multiple opportunities to ask for a referral. Think about mapping out the moments that matter in your sales process to identify these opportunities. Even recently closed lost deals could be a good source of referrals, if managed correctly.
Be bold, just ask. It starts with a simple question, one that normally gets overlooked as it can be perceived as salesy. Remember, you’re just asking for an introduction based on value that your customer has received from interacting/working with you, so be bold and just ask. Try it, you’ll be surprised!
2. Use Video and Voice notes
It’s so important to be human in the sales process, even though those who know me, know I love a good sequence and appreciate automating the sales process where appropriate. However, with email and digital ads on the rise, prospects need to know that we are all human and not just the next lead on the list.
Since 2017 and across all age ranges and locations, video remains the top way buyers want to consume information that assists the buying journey. In times like ours, where human connections are limited, imagine the impact a personalised video or a LinkedIn voice note would have on differentiating yourself from the next automated email?
You also speak faster than you type and it is much easier to explain anything with depth using voice and video - so you’ll be able to reach out to more people vs email. Tone in sales is probably one of the most important things to get right and is easily lost in written comms. Your voice is unique to you, allowing you to build a deeper human connection.
I’ll leave you on this point with a quote from Daniel Pink’s book - To Sell is Human: “The purpose of a pitch isn’t necessarily to move others immediately to adopt your idea. The purpose is to offer something so compelling that it begins a conversation, brings the other person in as a participant, and eventually arrives at an outcome that appeals to both of you.”
It sounds simple but if you have an overreliance on a single contact in your sales process the likelihood of that deal falling apart is pretty high. I get it, building a relationship with a champion that we get on with is pleasant and more often than not you’d be able to build a pretty strong connection with that single-threaded approach. Considering that the average number of stakeholders in B2B purchasing decisions is on the rise, currently at 6.8 people, up from 5.4 in 2014, that coupled with 91% of us claiming that a change in decision-maker has taken place in the process, highlights the importance of multi-threading.
It’s not always easy to bring others into the deal. So remember: always do your research. Identify those who could benefit from your solution or have a say in its purchase early on. It’s much easier for a champion to say yes if you've done the initial leg work and suggest the inclusion of actual people instead of just saying “who else should we be speaking to?”.
Finally, one tactic that has helped us in bringing others into the conversation is the use of mutual launch plans, where every step of the buying process is mapped out and allocated across both teams. Not everyone knows how to buy technology and this is an awesome exercise to coach your buyers through this process and help bring others into the conversation.
4. ABC: Always Be Caring
I’ve been shocked to hear about the “hard-close” sales tactics that a number of our customers and prospects have been put through in the past few weeks. I get it, people are feeling the pressure of hitting short-term targets in an uncertain time. However, remember that selling today will gain you a deal in the short-term but if we switch that focus to helping, we’ll gain loyal customers for life.
The average buyer will see three marketing messages a minute - that’s 5,000 a day! Most of which are unsolicited sales messages pushing products and services. Essentially, the only real way to cut through all of this is to above all else: be helpful. Be obsessed with solving your customers' challenges, doing so makes it easier to gain trust which in turn makes it easier for customers to buy.
There are few ways to build trust, first, integrity, a number of your customers have burnt their hands, so always do the right thing, even if it results in you walking away from the deal or suggesting alternatives that are a better fit. Second, if being a good fit is to be dependable, stand by your commitments to your clients and do what you say and promise.
Zig Ziglar said it best “Ability is important in our quest for success, but dependability is critical.”
5. Pick. Up. The. Phone
Now that the best converting channels for business relationships have been taken away, the phone is the remaining channel to recreate real human interactions and drive meaningful conversations. What other channels enable you to understand critical aspects of your prospects' situation, problems and decision making criteria in a few minutes? None. Actual human contact drives further engagement to other digital touchpoints. Considering this: an email sent directly after a conversation sees a 60% open rate vs 0.6% of those unsolicited ones (Gerry Hill at Connect and Sell).
Now that we’re going into week five of lockdown, I’m sure you’ll start to see switchboards actively redirecting calls to mobile numbers and if that’s still not that case, try lusha - there are a few golden nuggets in there!
It’s too easy for sales teams to hide behind emails and automated cadences, surprise your past, present and future clients - pick up the phone!
Let's Get Selling
Spring of 2020 is going to be defining time for us all and one that we’ll all share. We all have the choice either to sit back, relax and think it's out of our hands or make our mark, work hard and win.
There are plenty of buyers out there - let’s get selling!