This Little-Known Stage Might Be Why You’re Not Closing More New Customers
I talk about it a lot with clients, but most of the so-called marketing and sales experts tend to skip right over this important point. People make their purchase decisions emotionally and then rationalize those decisions.
This means you have to quickly and effectively connect with your prospects emotionally, and this is not about facts, figures, features and benefits. It’s more about know, like and trust.
Once you do this, you’ll still have to help them rationalize their decision before they’ll sign your paperwork, which means you have to identify this stage in the buyer journey and plan for it proactively.
This is where the Rationalization Stage in the Cyclonic Buyer Journey™ becomes just as important as the five other stages that preceded it.
It’s one of the most perplexing stages in the buyer journey. Your prospect has already said “yes.” They love you and everything you’ve said up to this point.
But the deal stalls as they review your contract, discuss terms, evaluate timing and check references. It could be weeks or longer before you can realize any revenue. Why is it so hard to get customers to sign?
The answer is that you’re not helping them rationalize their decision.
Does any of this sound familiar? Your customer agreement is 10 pages long and filled with legal jargon. It takes weeks to coordinate schedules for prospects to check references. Your customer service team is too busy taking care of customers to meet with prospects and walk them through your onboarding process.
You might not know it, but you’ve created a lot of friction in the end of the buyer journey, and that friction is causing your revenue cycle to grind to a halt.
If you want to fix it, you have to look at the buyer journey experience from the eyes of your prospect. Take a good look at your contract. Is it over-architected or overly legal? Do you feel like you’d be comfortable signing it without having a lawyer look at it? Do you even need all of that legal jargon?
For example, we have a two-page services agreement. We’ll do A, B and C. You’ll pay us D. If we don’t like working with each other, we agree to fair notice. That’s it. No lawyer necessary. I met a company last week at a conference and they eliminated their agreement completely. Is that the answer? I don’t know, but it’s certainly a step in the direction of removing friction.
References are another great example. No one likes them. Your current customers are nice enough to do them, but you don’t want to bother them too much. Meanwhile, your prospects aren’t thrilled about having to call strangers and talk about your business. You could be looking at weeks of back-and-forth before the final calls are executed. It’s all unnecessary.
Instead, proactively offer prospects a reference reel of prerecorded videos with the same people you’d be giving as references. Send that link in advance before the reference request comes in, and explain that this is how you handle references. No need to schedule a call, no need to be bothered or bother others and no need to delay your decision. Remove the friction.
The most common mistake is thinking you’re negotiating. If you take a combative position at this stage in the buyer journey, you’ll be sunk. Instead, continue to guide, advise and educate your prospects.
Help them understand why your agreement includes certain language. Give in on as much as you possibly can, and where you can’t, take the time to explain why this is a benefit to them too.
If they ask about extra discounts, let them know that discount is coming out of your profit and could compromise your business in the long term. If they’re looking for a partner, they should want you to be a healthy and strong company.
Another mistake involves dropping out of the process at this stage. Just because they agreed to hire you doesn’t mean your team should start working on other deals. This is where you need to dig in and remain their guide in an even more diligent way.
You don’t want to work so hard for a new customer only to lose them at the last minute because they felt like you were less attentive. At this point, you should get more attentive and helpful. This means if your prospect has some concerns with the agreement and your legal team is busy, you jump in and help them understand the terms and conditions.
Be extra attentive even with something simple like sending over an agreement or final presentation deck. Never, never, never send anything in advance. That leaves you open for questions, misunderstanding and confusion. This all make prospects feel anxious, nervous and unsafe.
Remember, you’re working hard make them feel safe. Instead, send over documents minutes before you jump on the phone and walk them through all of the details. This way, you answer all of the questions in real time, you explain the context for your agreement details and you make sure everyone is comfortable.
It’s a simple step, but it’s one that most people miss.
This is primarily a sales execution stage, so the tactics are almost all sales-related, but since we’ve been talking about a much tighter aligned sales and marketing effort, some supporting tactics are listed here that marketing should be equipped to deliver to sales.
Here you go:
If you’ve been following along in the series, you should be starting to see a pattern. A ton of tactics could be deployed all along the buyer journey. The key is selecting the right tactics, setting them up correctly, optimizing them over time and then prioritizing them against other tactics that might enhance or improve overall performance.
The metrics in this stage have almost everything to do with getting your prospect over the goal line and getting those signed documents back.
Here’s what you could be looking at to measure the effectiveness of your Rationalization Stage revenue growth tactics:
You should set up some specific Rationalization Stage dashboards to keep real-time track of these metrics. If you’re reviewing these weekly and rolling them up monthly to look for gains month over month, you’ll be well on your way to having a good handle on the performance of the tactics in your Rationalization Stage.
Here are the stage-specific software tools we’ve looked at, tested and recommend to clients building a rich tech stack around the Rationalization Stage.
Remember, these are all built on top of platform software like HubSpot, Marketo or Salesforce.
NOTE: These technology solutions have been updated (October 22, 2018) since the original post. The technology landscape changes very quickly, and we’ll continue to update our tech stack recommendations as they change and evolve.
By smashing the funnel and applying a new map (the Cyclonic Buyer Journey map), we’re encouraging people to start building more buyer-centric marketing and sales strategies, executing tactics more thoughtfully, tracking the performance of everything and using technology to automate and analyze your results.
The business outcomes? Month-over-month revenue growth and consistent, scalable, repeatable and predictable revenue generation machines. Give it a try, it works! That’s why we guarantee results for our clients.