Question: Has your Sales Organisation identified the most effective actions for sales executives to follow at each stage in the sales process, from opening to close – and are you satisfied that over 80% of your sales executives are able to effectively, and with agility, navigate the various stages in the sales process, from opening to close?
According to our research at ThinkSales Global, only 37.2% of Sales Organisations have identified the most effective actions for sales executives to follow at each stage in the sales process, from opening to close.
In addition, 30.7% of companies rate their confidence as Outstanding that over 80% of their Sales Reps are able to effectively, and with agility, navigate the various stages in the sales process, from opening to close.
The ‘closing a sale’ problem
If you were to ask your sales executives if they think that the ‘close’ of the sale is the event that happens at the end when the customer either signs the deal or walks away, how many of them would say yes?
It’s called the ‘closing myth’, and it’s one that most sales executives ascribe to.
The problem is that when you see the close as the end of a deal, sales becomes a tick box exercise that doesn’t take all the necessary customer commitments into account that are required to take a deal from the first interaction to the signing of a deal.
It’s therefore essential for your sales force to start viewing closing as a process, and not a single point in time, or they will never have any real control over which deals are won – and which are lost.
Build a process that is always closing
Here is a framework that your sales managers can use to help your sales executives re-orientate the way they think about closing:
- Closing is not just something that happens at the end of a sale. It’s the culmination of the sale. Everything the sales executive does, from researching the prospect, to qualifying them, to meeting them, analysing their needs and getting their buy-in, leads to this point.
- Closing isn’t just asking for the order at the end of the sales cycle – it’s something that must be done after every interaction. A sales executive can’t move forward to the next step of the cycle without some agreement from the customer. When a customer agrees to take an action, that specific step in the process is closed.
- This means that there are multiple ‘closes’ throughout the sales cycle.
- Asking for action keeps the project moving forward. Nothing is left hanging, or up in the air. Plus, the sales team has each prospect’s full buy-in every time they agree to an action.
- Close every interaction. When the time comes for the final decision, it should be a natural, logical consequence of the smaller decisions that have led up to it. If your team wants to close more deals, their goal should be to close each and every interaction.
To progress a B2B sale from start to close, your sales executives need to be focusing on achieving the following customer commitments:
- Whether dealing with a gatekeeper or a direct contact, your team needs their agreement to grant them time and access to initiate the sales journey.
- Once a sales executive has access to a contact, they have to earn their attention through a compelling discussion and/or presentation.
- Willingness to Share Information. Most prospects are sceptical and guarded by nature. Unless your sales executives can win their trust and present an attractive reason or compelling benefit, they will likely not share much in-depth information, certainly not enough to build a comprehensive business or financial case for change.
- Agreement to Continue Engagement. In B2B sales, deals aren’t often concluded in the first meeting. If your sales cycle requires a series of interactions, your sales team will need each prospect to agree to continue the engagement with your organisation. Unless they see a compelling reason to commit further time, they won’t agree to further meetings.
- Involvement of Additional Stakeholders. Your sales executive’s contact may need to involve other stakeholders in the negotiations. To ensure this happens, their point of contact will need to have a high degree of faith in your sales team’s ability before recommending superiors or colleagues join in discussions.
- Addressing and Resolving Concerns. There are often kinks that need ironing out before sales are completed. For a prospect to share reservations with your sales executives and provide them with an opportunity to resolve these, a foundation of trust, honesty and respect must be established.
- Confirmation of the Problem. Whether your sales process uses financial justifications such as a ‘cost of the problem’ or an ROI calculation or not – the prospect will still have to agree to there being a problem in the first place before they will make the decision to change.
- Decision to Change. Buying means changing. Your customer must make the commitment to change. Many B2B sales falter here, resulting in ‘no decision’ because of the prospect’s unwillingness to make this decision. A choice to stick with the status quo is invariably the result of an absent or inadequate ‘case for change’, resulting in no motivation for compelling a decision to change.
- Acceptance of the Value of the Solution. Before a prospect will be willing to buy, they need to see the value your solution has to offer and be in agreement that its capabilities will adequately address their problem.
- Commitment to Buy. The final commitment to buy is the last in a chain of agreements required to build up to the sale. Sales executives that simply go through the motions of meeting, presenting, following up and ‘asking for the deal’ neglect the previous nine commitments at their peril and limit the likelihood of obtaining the Commitment to Buy.
Assess the health of your sales organisation
Identifying the most effective actions for sales executives to follow at each stage in the sales process and ensuring that sales executives are able to effectively, and with agility, navigate the various stages in the sales process, from opening to close, are two of 322 measures of a world-class Sales Organisation.
How does your Sales Organisation stack up? Find out by taking the ThinkSales 5 Pillar Strategic Sales Assessment™.
This first-of-its-kind 360-degree gap analysis report enables your Sales Leadership team to assess its strengths and detect weaknesses and impediments to revenue growth across the five pillars of a high performing sales organisation:
- Competitive Strategy
- Customer Engagement
- Sales Talent
- Sales Management
- Sales Enablement
Click here for more information on the ThinkSales 5 Pillar Strategic Sales Assessment™.