Now is the time when most sales professionals traditionally push to meet their year-end targets and begin setting new milestones to get off to a strong start in the coming 12 months. However, 2020 required extraordinary flexibility. What do we do now that the holidays are over?
As COVID-19 canceled the conferences and other networking events that let sales professionals build rapport and demonstrate their products, they had to pivot and connect in different ways.
You’re likely still exploring how to close more sales quickly, after the holiday season.
Here are six practical tips that can help.
1. Consider How to Make Prices More Appealing
The challenging aspects of 2020 caused changes in many people’s financial situations. Some lost their jobs or learned of company budget cuts. Others curbed their spending to try and gain more monetary security during a tumultuous year.
Moreover, salespeople saw the strain the pandemic caused in industries such as travel, hospitality and live music, and knew that it might become more difficult to convince professionals to buy products during these hard times.
Due to these shifts, it’s worthwhile to see how you might restructure your prices or talk about pricing differently so that people more readily see that your products or services fit into their new budgets. A recent publication from Deloitte discussed the new commercial challenges companies face and how they can solve them.
Pricing was one of the main themes in the coverage. However, the authors advised against immediately cutting prices. Instead, they suggested several ways to make pricing more attractive without traditional price drops.
For example, you might introduce new pricing models, such as subscriptions or pay-per-performance structures. Another possibility is to make people feel they are getting more for their money. A buy-one-get-one-free offer is one often-utilized way to do that.
Additionally, if your company has the means, think about offering more financial flexibility, especially to high-value customers. For example, if a client gets more time to pay for an expensive product, it’s easier for them to justify making that investment.
2. Tweak Your Messaging and Approach to Meet New Needs
2020 was a year when people reassessed their priorities and many realized they must adjust to new ways of life for the foreseeable future.
Recreational vehicle retailers said the pandemic led to unprecedented purchasing levels. One such business owner said his company saw a sales jump of up to 125% and that many buyers were first-timers. That makes sense, considering that many people still want to travel but feel nervous about getting on trains or planes or staying in hotels.
Owning an RV is not a minor investment, but it’s an attractive option for people who can no longer safely participate in the things they used to do to have fun. Assess your messaging and see if there are ways to improve so that the content speaks to the current needs people have that were not such pressing concerns before the pandemic.
For example, maybe you sell upscale sound equipment. While you would not want to promote those products as being great for large gatherings right now, you could point out that high-quality equipment would help people get more enjoyment from the music and films they’re likely enjoying more often while at home these days.
Think about using video conferencing tools to create new relationships, too. A Fortune 100 technology company did that to build executive-to-executive links between leaders at companies that may purchase products and leadership members at the companies that sell those items. The approach led to a 38% increase in account revenue compared to customers without those connections to corporate leaders.
3. Get Support from Others
If you had trouble closing sales in 2020, take comfort that you’re not alone. Company representatives across the world are in the same position, and some are likely in your community. Perhaps some of them had difficulties earlier in the year but have since worked through those rough patches and are willing to share their tips with other entrepreneurs.
People traditionally think of a new year as providing a fresh start, but that may not be the case as we move into 2021. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce recently surveyed small business owners located in the northeast region of the country. The results showed 62% of them felt the worst was ahead. Moreover, 74% said they needed more government support to remain afloat.
Those are bleak statistics. However, they also strongly suggest that now is a time for business owners to come together and help each other. Look at how you could leverage your internal and external networks to benefit from new sources of guidance and advice.
Even if the people you talk to do not have solutions, just talking them through your struggles may help you see the issues in a new light and find the perspective enables you to think of feasible success strategies.
Additionally, you may discover opportunities to collaborate with businesses in new ways that drive sales. For example, maybe your company offers subscriptions to an online learning platform. Perhaps a local tech developer wants to get more exposure for a new note-taking app, as well. In that situation, you could both benefit by creating a new offer where customers could access your content and get free or discounted access to the app.
4. Broaden Your Digital Strategy
People became highly dependent on digital technologies this year. They used them to get work done, connect with people and stay entertained. When it comes to sales tactics, many do not see a future where people return to the traditional, in-person outreach techniques.
A McKinsey survey polled B2B decision-makers to get their input on how the future looks. Approximately 90% of global respondents expected the digital and remote models to remain for the long term. Moreover, no more than 30% of B2B buyers ever want to have in-person interactions with sales agents again.
Treating a digital-first approach as the new normal could help you close more sales. It shows that you are in tune with how the last year made people’s preferences change. Operating fully or mostly in the digital realm could also give your enterprise more flexibility no matter what the next year brings.
Examine your current digital approach to sales and look for weaknesses. Have sales representatives complained that parts of their processes are more challenging to carry out digitally? Did they provide feedback from clients or prospective customers who experienced problems with the digital model?
Another interesting finding from Deloitte’s study was that nearly four in five 5 B2B buyers prefer video-based interactions over audio-only ones. That conclusion may urge you to invest in better video-calling programs or give your sales team high-tech headsets that help them have hands-free conversations.
Think about how you could turn the new digital dominance into an opportunity rather than a downside.
5. Learn the Consultative Sales Process
It has always been important for salespeople to convey how their products meet customer needs. However, doing that is arguably even more vital when buyers may worry about uncertain futures while grappling with obstacles posed by smaller budgets.
Thus, consultative selling could help you close more sales as 2020 ends and the new year begins. That’s because it combines proactive and reactive approaches while centering on customer solutions.
Consultative selling works through a six-step process, broken down as follows:
- Researching: Salespeople take time to learn as much as possible about prospective customers’ needs and their industries. They might investigate which companies potential buyers see as competitors and what problems people need to solve when purchasing products.
- Asking: After getting general information about the audience’s needs and industries, sales professionals ask individual buyers questions. They aim to get details about pain points, challenges and purchasers’ requirements.
- Listening: This phase emphasizes picking up on the clues that help you gain even more perspective into a customer’s situation. For example, tune into their tone and inflection, and ensure that your leads feel wholly listened to and understood.
- Teaching: This next step puts the salesperson in an advising role. They start demonstrating how a product could improve a customer’s return on investment or address challenges identified during earlier parts of the conversation.
- Qualifying: During the qualifying step, salespeople ensure their leads have the budget and other aspects that make them ready to buy. Even if a person discloses something that tells you they can’t purchase right away, the time you already spent with them may nurture trust that causes them to buy later.
- Closing: Getting to this final stage is your goal. If leads respond favorably to all the earlier parts of the process, closing the deal is often a straightforward task. Some customers may still hesitate, but hopefully they’ll feel you’re a knowledgeable party that can address any remaining resistance or uncertainty.
Consultative selling requires time and effort as well as participation from every sales professional across your organization. However, it can pay off, especially since it helps leads view your company as a trustworthy resource.
6. Study Relevant Data While Planning Your Strategy
Internal information likely already plays a role in your organization. Relying on your internal company information even more — could help you complete more sales. A majority of salespeople polled recently reported taking data-driven actions in their organizations.
A LinkedIn study indicated that 56% of respondents used data for account targeting. The results also revealed that the metrics tracked are different now than the ones most often studied previously.
Sales teams now focus on long-term metrics like customer satisfaction and retention instead of paying so much attention to quarterly quotas. More specifically, 70% of respondents said their organization’s prioritized metrics that would help them keep customers.
You could take inspiration from those findings by examining data to make the best use of your time before engaging with leads. What does the compiled information say about which people are most likely to buy from you know versus holding off? Additionally, what do your long-term customers like most about your organization? Mentioning some of those qualities in sales-based conversations with new leads could stimulate positive outcomes.
Adaptivity Brings Success
You’ll inevitably need to make some adjustments while closing sales during and after the holiday season. The previous months’ circumstances mean tactics that once proved tried-and-true may not resonate with people as much now.
Fortunately, the six suggestions here will help you feel confident while making changes to your methods. Showing the willingness and capability to adapt should strengthen your business. Tell customers that your products and services still apply to them regardless of how much some things are now different.