As a motivational sales speaker, I am asked a lot of questions about how to sell in today’s economy. People ask how to network more effectively, how to find good prospects. They ask whether or not social media is an important sales tool (it is, by the way). I love to get any questions about how to improve sales, especially on stage with live audiences. But I have to say my favorite question, and the one I am asked most often, is how to turn prospects into customers.
This is a question that so many of us in sales struggle with. As sales people we are great at getting in the door. We know how to product pitch. We are strong at conversation. But getting the deal to close that is a little tougher. I love this question because in this economy how you turn prospects into customers is just a little different. If you are still using the same, traditional approach that you used ten years ago, then believe me it is time for a change. And honestly, if you are in sales the most important skill to have is turning a prospect into an actual customer. If you want to succeed in sales and in business, you need to get the prospect to sign on the dotted line and officially become your customer.
Therefore, before we jump into discussing those business growth strategies we all need to be doing to close more sales let’s talk about why, especially in this economy, we struggle to turn more of our prospects into customers. First, many of us, as I mentioned before, are using outdated tactics. Strategies and tools that are meant for a different type of economy and a very different type of customer.
As a sales person today, you need to understand that far more than this economy has changed. Your customers have changed. Today’s customers are well informed, highly skeptical and squarely in control. They are not really interested in what we are saying about our products and services, instead they are turning to their friends, family and even google reviews to find out what to buy, where to buy and who to buy it from.
This is an economy where the rules have changed. It is not our product or service that is differentiating us from our competition. Products and services are something today’s customers believe they can buy and find anywhere. Instead, it is how we sell them. That is what customers are looking for and that is what is separating us from our competition. If you want to succeed in today’s economy you need to take a different approach and use a counter-intuitive set of business growth strategies.
4 Business Growth Strategies To
Turn Prospects Into Customers
Slow It Down
First, you need to slow down. I know, sounds crazy right? In a challenging economy, that is more competitive than ever, I am telling you that to close more business you need to slow the sales process down. Yes, you need to remember that you are not in charge. You are not in control of the buying cycle. Back in the day when towns had one bank, one grocery store and the Sears Catalog took a month or two to deliver, selling aggressively worked because customers did not have a choice of where or from whom to buy. In today’s world, they do, and it is the experience, not the product they are buying. So as a sales person you need to slow it down, allow the relationship to build and get to know your prospects.
Part of slowing it down and getting to know your customers is about paying attention. And paying attention is all about listening. Listening is so important in today’s economy because no one does it anymore. All you have to do is jump on social media, watch a little television or listen to our politicians for ten minutes, and you will notice that everyone is talking about himself or herself and no one is listening to anyone else. Listening is critical in sales, because if you listen, really pay attention, your prospects will tell you exactly what and how to sell them. It is like magic, all you do is listen for their urgent need then fill it. In addition, listening is an important way we build trust. When we pay attention, we send a strong signal to them that says, you are important, you matter, and this relationship will always be more about you than it is about me.
Stay In The Game
Very few of your prospects woke up this morning and thought, “Wow, I hope a sales person calls me today! Today is the day I really need this new service.” In other words, if you want to turn more of your prospects into customers than you need to stay in the game. You need to follow-up and follow-thru. Turning a prospect into a customer today can be a longer, and more involved process. So you need to strategically design a follow-up process. You need to ensure that you can remain visible with your prospects without being annoying.
(Your sales funnel that is). I realize that I have told you to slow the sales process down, listen and stay-in-the-game. And all of those things take time. Time is not a luxury that business owners and sales professionals have much of these days. They have goals to make and quotas to fill. So to strike the balance, you need to overfill your sales funnel. The hardest time to close a sale is when you need the sale to close. Think about it, how many times have you been so sure the sale would close, but if you needed the sale to make goal, something would happen to make the prospect back out. Sales needs to become a lifestyle, not a task. It has to be something that you do every day. If you overfill your sales funnel, you will have plenty of business coming through the pipeline. Then, when one prospect declines, two more will be ready to close.
Yes, closing sales these days can be a challenge. But when you understand the new economy and follow these business growth strategies, you can master the process and continually turn prospects into customers.