Have you ever wondered why you connect with some leads instantaneously just on a phone call and you end up successfully converting them as customers? Why some others, you know you have had a great conversation and everything is rosy but, months later you are still wondering why they aren't converting?
As an enthusiastic salesman, you must always be looking for answers to questions like - How to close more sales? How to close big deals and reduce the sales cycle? What are the effective sales closing techniques that your competitors are adopting? If so, read further to learn the technique that worked wonders for us to close many big business deals.
It so happened that I wrapped up our annual sales numbers a few weeks back and as any strategist, I was looking into our successes and failures. When I started looking into our clients, I really didn't find a pattern of a particular persona or industry or a deal size that we were able to close fast.
I just couldn't resign to the fact that selling was just pure timing and the reason we could sell to these clients is that we reached out to them at the right time offered right value. This is partially true, but leading a team of a high-performance sales team we have enriched them with enough tools to understand these metrics and use that to their advantage.
So what was really inhibiting the sales velocity? Why some deals were converting in a few hours and few other took a few months with similar deal sizes? Was there some effective sales closing techniques that we were missing?
So before we move ahead, sales velocity is a simple formula:
Velocity matters to you because it gives you a real indication of how many leads you actually need to achieve your sales goals based on your conversion rate.
This started a two-day sojourn of mine making sense of my CRM data. I downloaded our extensive customer over the last 2 years and went about segregating them across different metrics. The usuals (read Linkedin Filters here), but I went a step ahead looked into gender, days to close deals, whether they were a B2B, B2C, or an NFP organization, deal sizes and lead sources.
Something interesting happened, I started noticing that one of my top sales guys was consistently closing some great accounts under 14 days where the decision maker was a woman, This was very interesting for me to understand why this was happening and I really wanted some data to back it up. I ran up some basic analysis on R and created a few summaries and this is what I found.
My top sales guy let's call him 'K' - took an average 21 days to convert a lead if the design maker was a woman, however with decision makers who were men he took over 61 days to close. The contract sizes were staggeringly different while the Male leads were closing at $15K a contract and female leads at $11K a contract. As a business, our numbers averaged 49 days @ 12K for Female leads and 45 days at 12K for Male leads! So the contract sizes weren't different and in terms of the conversion rates and the gender ratio in the leads, they were consistent.
I then went to our repository and pulled out some call recordings to listen to some of the conversations he had with the clients, his pitch was all but consistent with either gender, so should I resign that his baritone was a factor? I couldn't do that.
I feverishly started combing other possibilities and I felt I was dealing with a case of analysis paralysis. But, my gut was telling me that it is something to do with our standard pitch. As I got down on research, I chanced upon a tool called 'Crystal Knows'. Here is a Guardian Article which describes the best of what it does.
The personality assessment platform scrapes data from social media and analyses an individual personality using the DISC styles. I signed up for the free service to test it out and used the plugin to check my own LinkedIn Profile, results were downright creepy. I then ran a relationship report of my personality with me and my wife! Et, Voila! they found a new subscriber.
In short, there are four personality types (Require a graphic here)
people prioritize results over everything else. They care most about their bottom line and are very direct in their communication.
people care most about influencing or persuading others. They put a lot of weight on their relationships.
people emphasize security. They look for sincerity and dependability over anything else.
people want as much information as possible about your product or service. They value quality and accuracy and are afraid of making the wrong move.
I started to comb back my data by profiling every one of customer's DISC personality and then ran my results and there it was, my hypothesis was validated. It was indeed the problem of the pitch.
Our sales were generally done in autopilot mode and this was crippling our velocity, as any sales team, my team was a bunch of outgoing, talkative, emotional, ebullient and enthusiastic personalities and they sold in a way that they wanted to be sold to. In short except me, my team was made up of 'Influencers'.
'Influencers' accounted for over 43% of contracts and 59% of our revenue last year, with an average contract value of 11k and it just took 24 days to close a deal and 'K' a High Influencer was closing them in 14 days and accounted for a 1/3rd of that revenue.
It just meant that we were doing great when selling to a decision maker that has the same personality as they were, but what happened when our lead was of the other three types? What if they are less willing to take a risk or less optimistic about our service. This was killing our efficiency, the time that we spent on these leads and the return wasn't making sense.
See for example, 'Dominant Type' Personality, accounted for 1/10th of our revenue, with an average contract size of 6K and took an average 80 days to close a sale! 'K' was struggling too, with an average contract size of 6.5K and 52 days to close but I was doing better, as a 'D' personality, I accounted for all the 80% of all D type revenue.
This brought about an important learning, that would go about transforming our customer experience and here it is:
The best salespeople believe in 'Horses for Courses', they modify their script to their audience based on their personality, they understand the same spiel won't work with two different personalities. Each of then would need different buying experiences and offers and the sales playbook continues to evolve as we feed it with new learnings each day.
If you’re selling to a high “D” customer, show you respect their views and requirements without making them feel like you’re simply agreeing with whatever they say. They’ll view that as a sign of weakness. Use Testimonials and avoid focussing on them personally, stick to facts in hand.
“I” personalities like to talk about their ideas and emotions, so ask them what they’re thinking and feeling. Let them vocalize what’s working and what’s not. They can also be disorganized and avoid details, so providing summaries or takeaways of what you discussed can help them focus on what you want them to focus on. But only include details that are absolutely necessary.
People with high “S” personalities are even-tempered, composed, and good at listening. Show them you’re interested in who they are as a person and don’t let your sales pitch feel too “transactional.” Make it clear you value the relationship. Don't focus on Facts and numbers, you'll risk coming off as impersonal.
"People with high “C” personalities like having as much information as possible. Give them the information from your verbal pitch again in writing. Knowing they can review all the documents later and make an informed decision puts “C” people at ease. Having a detailed pro and cons list in your proposal can also help them make a decision. Compliant people are very afraid of making the wrong decision, so offering some type of guarantee or refund can help ease their worry."
Not all salespeople are made equal and your sales team is as strong as the weakest link, as a strategist you must strive to ensure that you provide your team with every tool to ensure that they don’t look like a lamb in front of your client. You know that your client is evaluating your company through your salesperson and what he says and does in those 15-20 minutes really is going to decide whether they will ever do business with you.
In closing, perhaps what Zig Ziegler says about being enthusiastic in sales meeting would be quite infectious for a personality type ‘I’ or ‘D’, but an S or C is actually making mental notes about the company you don’t want to project.
How do you go about your sales pitches, would these personalities matter? What is the effective sales closing technique that worked for you? Please share your thoughts, experiences and tips for closing big business deals in the comment section below.