As a salesperson (or founder driving sales), your sole purpose is to create clear outcomes: a “yes” or a “no”—but never a “maybe.” Follow these steps to get your prospects to a definitive outcome as quickly as possible.
1. Identify the Decision-Maker and Start a Conversation
To effectively gather that right information, you need to speak with the right person—a decision-maker. Let’s walk through an example:
If you’re selling a tool for content marketers and experience tells you that the ultimate decision-maker on purchasing new tools like yours goes to a Head of Content Marketing or Director of Marketing, it does you no good spending time talking to an entry-level marketing person, copywriter, assistant, or member of another team entirely.
If I wanted to reach out to a decision-maker in content marketing at the digital agency Web Profits, I’d start my outreach with Catherine (and not Diesel) based on the job title of my ideal decision-maker.
Is Catherine guaranteed to be my sales decision-maker with unilateral authority to purchase my tool? No, but experience gives me reasonable confidence—and that’s enough information to go off of at this stage.
The next step is starting the conversation. If you have a formal sales process, you’ll know which communication medium tends to be most effective for actually reaching your decision-maker. Should you send a cold email asking to book an exploratory call, or go directly to calling the company and asking for your decision-maker?
Next, you’ll need to quickly find (and verify) your decision-maker’s email address using a tool like Hunter to ensure you actually reach them.
Once you’ve confirmed the right email address for your decision-maker, it’s time to write a very short and direct cold email with one clear call-to-action: usually booking a call to discuss your solution in more depth.
Keep your eye on the next goal (booking a call), not the three steps ahead.
I also highly recommend putting automation into play using email sequences. This makes it easier to scale your outreach and find more qualified leads.
–> Looking to take the hassle out of cold emailing? Give our free AI-powered cold email generator tool a spin!
2. Accurately Qualify Your Prospects (and Their Pain Points)
Much of the real work in closing a sale is done in preliminary research and early conversations where you qualify prospects and determine whether they stand to benefit from your solution. If your prospect doesn’t fit your ideal customer profile, you shouldn’t waste time picking up the phone or queueing up further email outreach campaigns.
Before following up with a potential prospect, make sure to answer crucial qualifying questions like:
- How well do they match your ideal customer profile?
- How big is their company?
- Which industry are they in?
- Where is this company located?
- What’s the ideal use case?
- Which tools have they used in the past?
- What kind of ecosystem are they playing in?
If the answers to these questions support what you know about your ideal customer profile, then they’re a qualified lead that could likely benefit from using your solution. Once you’ve done this, and know you’ve already connected with the correct decision-maker, it’s time to prepare your pitch.
3. Pitch Your Solution (Not Just the Product)
Good sales reps know their product inside and out. Great sales reps transcend their understanding of the product by understanding how it will positively impact both their prospect’s business and their daily lives.
When you’re trying to sell your prospect based on features, you’re telling (not selling), and you’re not speaking their language. Never forget that your prospects care about tangible results, and how your product will create a solution to a problem their business has. That’s selling, and should be the focal point of a great sales pitch.
Here’s an example of telling vs selling.
Telling: “Our platform measures over 100 different metrics, charts, and graphs for your website including this, this, and this. Let me explain how each one works!”
Selling: “We have over 100 different metrics, charts, and graphs for your website on our platform. Which types of metrics are most important to you? What do you want to see?”
The difference between these approaches will signal to your prospect that you care about helping them solve their unique challenges, rather than signing up another customer to hit your quota.
4. Create a Sense of Urgency
Offer your prospect something time-sensitive—that they actually want. This may incentivize them to commit sooner rather than later. This could be a discount on your service, something free, or anything else that lowers the bottom line or level of commitment.
This makes them feel like they have the upper hand and there’s something to lose if they say no. Don’t confuse this sales tactic with rushing your prospect—the last thing you want to do is pressure them into saying a firm “no.” Instead, provide them with another reason why your product is the right choice for them—and it’s the right choice right now.
5. Overcome Their Objections
Along the path to closing any sale, you will field difficult questions, objections to certain features, pushback on pricing, and any number of other sales objections.
Here are some of the most common objections you’ll face:
- I don’t have the time
- I don’t have the money
- Your product is too expensive
- Please just email me more information
- We don’t need this at the moment
You need solid answers to these objections before getting on a sales call.
Anticipating and dealing with these objections is a natural part of your journey to close a sale, but it requires adequate preparation ahead of time—otherwise, you’re leaving your deal up to chance.
To prepare yourself for major sales objections in your space, start by listing the most common objections you face. Write concise answers to them, get feedback from others on your team, and rehearse the responses until you know them by heart.
6. Ask for the Sale (and Nail Your Closing Questions)
Perfecting how (and when) you ask the question, “Are you ready to buy?” is at the core of closing a deal in sales; yes, you’ll need to get comfortable asking it. As I’ve said before, the biggest mistake salespeople and founders can make is not asking for a sale.
Even salespeople who’ve been actively selling for years sometimes wait too long to ask for the sale.
So, when is the right time to ask for the sale? The answer: before you think they’re ready.
If you’ve done your job qualifying your prospect, delivering your pitch, and still believe they’d be a good fit for using your product, ask for the sale.
Expect an initial no from most prospects, but build this into your selling process. You’ll often catch a prospect off guard, and they won’t immediately have a clear reason not to buy when you’re both on the same page about the value they’re getting.
Say something like, “Hey, it seems like you guys are a great fit. I’ve shown you how we’re going to solve your problems effectively. Are you ready to buy?”
If they say no, follow up with this question:
“What’s the process we need to go through to get you ready to buy?”
This smooth follow-up shows you’re confident in what you’re offering and willing to work with them to get to a place where saying yes makes sense. After all, closing a sale is always a two-way conversation.
Also, any objections they harbor will immediately come to the surface, giving you leeway to toss out your carefully prepared counters to their objections.
Pro tip: The best way to make sure you follow up regularly with prospects is to use a communication-focused CRM, like Close. Use Close to track conversations with prospects, set reminders to follow up, or create automated sequences that keep the conversation going and get you closer to closing the deal.