Once You Understand How People Buy, Inbound Sales Produces A Lot Of Closed Sales
For hundreds of years, salespeople have been searching for the magic "buy button" hidden within their prospects' brains. Finally, that buy button is available for you to push, but only if you practice a sales methodology that’s perfectly aligned with the way people buy.
Today, people don’t want to be sold to. In fact, they’re doing everything in their power to repel the traditional sales approach. Caller ID makes cold calling nearly impossible. Spam filters make cold emails challenging. Recycle bins are happy to handle most of the cold direct mail. As a sales organization, where does that leave us?
The answer is inbound marketing and inbound sales.
The answer is creating a more experiential, educational and thoughtful sales experience that helps, advises and guides prospects through their individual journey — with the outcome being a safe purchase decision that includes your products or services.
Still not sure? Harvard Business Review did a study and nine out of 10 C-level executives said they never respond to any type of cold outreach. That’s going to make cold calling challenging. Gartner now reports that in most buying cycles, an average of seven individuals are actively involved in the decision-making process. Corporate Visions recently published research showing 74% of buyers select the vendor that is first to add real value to their business situation. That’s a lot of data.
What do you do about it? Here you go.
Create An Experience For All Your Prospects
Admit it, we’ve all done it. We’re experts at defending ourselves from the salesperson. Now we’ve created technology to keep salespeople away with ad blockers, spam filters and caller ID. But when we find people who genuinely want to help and we’re ready to welcome them into our process, we’re all in. You need to create a click-to-close process that supports this new and empowered buyer behavior.
Right now, people are searching for information related to your products or services. If they can’t find you, your business doesn’t exist. If they do find you, now it's game on. How can you deliver a remarkable experience so they get what they’re looking for and remember you while doing it? This is where inbound marketing shines.
Ninety percent of your leads are not interested in talking to you, so if you don't give them something they find valuable, they’re going to leave and probably find some other company to talk to. You need to get them information that answers their questions if you ever want them to reach out and ask to speak with your sales team.
And you want to do this in a remarkable way. Think Disney. When you go on a ride at Disney, every ride is perfectly designed to give you the right experience at the right time, even waiting in line. You need to look at your sales process and think of the Disney experience. Create a series of little WOWs all through the process and you’ll quickly see your close rates increasing and your sales cycle decreasing.
Make Sure You're Working To Get Prospects To Feel Safe
People make purchase decisions emotionally and then rationalize those decisions with facts. People need two conditions in place before they’ll actually make a purchase decision. First, they have to feel safe about the decision they’re about to make. Think of the phrase “no one ever got fired for hiring IBM.” That’s what this means. Not only do they need to feel safe, but they also need to have acute pain. Now I’m not sure there’s much we can do about the acuteness of their pain, but we are 100% responsible for making prospects feel safe.
In the old days, you made prospects feel safe by taking them to lunch, to games, to golf and other events. Today, those are expensive and this is hardly a scalable process, especially for mid-sized to smaller businesses. The good news is we don’t have to do that anymore. Today, we have the tools, the systems and the understanding to make prospects feel safe simply with our sales process.
Make The Process About Them, Not About You
One way to do that is to ask them to talk about themselves. People love talking about themselves and it gives you the opportunity to ask lots of smart questions, uncover the real challenges going on in their companies, and add value from the start of the process because you care about them and their company.
Be clear from the start that this process is not about selling them anything, but about understanding their business, their challenges and their issues so that you can help them make a good decision, even if it’s a decision to do nothing.
If we were going on a whitewater rafting trip and I simply gave you three options to choose from, how would that make you feel? But what if I spent 45 minutes talking to you about your trip, so that I could give you some good suggestions and craft a trip perfectly designed for you and your family? Which experience would make you feel safer? Exactly. This is what you need to deliver in your sales process.
Tell Stories And Make Your Prospect The Hero
A lot of salespeople want to lean on the features and benefits associated with their product or service, but people don’t retain those facts. We’re actually horrible at remembering facts like this, but we’re amazing at remembering stories.
So to press your prospects' buy button you need stories — a lot of stories. You need stories in your marketing at the beginning of your sales process, in the middle of your sales process and at the end of your sales process.
Make sure your stories feature your prospects as the hero. They need to see themselves in your stories and they need to be the hero. Most companies feature themselves or their products as the hero. Nope, wrong approach. By the way, these stories are typically crafted by strategic marketing teams with the sole purpose of differentiating your business, getting people to share and repeat the stories, and using the stories to close business.
Eliminate Any And All Friction From Your Sales Process
Finally, as you create your ultimate click-to-close experience and work hard to get prospects to press the buy button, you should actively look for places in your sales process where you’ve inadvertently added extra friction. A great place to look is your paperwork. Is it too heavy in terms of legal? I once reviewed a proposal for a client that featured two pages of details and 10 pages of legalese. I wanted to know what would happen if they took out all of that legal stuff. They said "probably nothing," so they did. Immediately, they lopped off two weeks from their sale cycle (the time the prospect’s legal counsel was going over the agreement) and they increased their close rate by 20% because they weren’t scaring their prospects with complicated legal contracts anymore. Sometimes it’s that simple.
This might feel uncomfortable for you initially. You’ve probably heard the old sales cliché, “make a friend, lose a sale,” or maybe you really believe the ABCs of sales, “always be closing.” If either of these are true, it might be time for a new approach.
The internet has empowered buyers in every industry at every company. No one is immune to these changes. Companies that accept these changes and create remarkable sales processes while arming their sales teams with new tools are not only closing business at record clips, but they are also differentiating their companies with what we call “click-to-close” revenue machines.
If you’d like to see what inbound marketing and inbound sales can do for your business, or if you’d like to see what the new sales process looks like and how it gets prospects to say "yes" faster, more often and for more revenue than in the past, consider stopping by my session on Wednesday, November 9 at INBOUND 2016 in Boston. You can see my session and pre-register to save a seat. These sessions fill up quickly and you don’t want to be left standing outside.
In the meantime, if you want to read more about inbound sales, download the e-book by clicking on the button below.
Square 2 Marketing – Inbound Results Start With ME!
Posted By Author Mike Lieberman, CEO and Chief Revenue Scientist
Mike is the CEO and Chief Revenue Scientist at Square 2. He is passionate about helping people turn their ordinary businesses into businesses people talk about. For more than 25 years, Mike has been working hand-in-hand with CEOs and marketing and sales executives to help them create strategic revenue growth plans, compelling marketing strategies and remarkable sales processes that shorten the sales cycle and increase close rates.