No matter your industry, product, or service, we all have one thing in common – we have to sell. And even though sales can be difficult to master, it is one of the most exciting roles in any company and there is always room to learn a new skill or trick. Despite being an ancient trade, there are now myriads of tools and techniques to make sales more efficient in the modern age.
Here are some of the best ways to make your sales process go more smoothly and convince your prospects to hand over their hard-earned cash.
Talking back at your potential client
By this, I don’t mean arguing. Before going into SaaS, I used to work in an agency where we would sell business automation software to a variety of clients from different industries. We would have a few meetings to assess their needs and after that, we would send a business proposal to get them hooked on the idea and convince them to sign. How you write these proposals and what you include makes all the difference.
During the meetings, we would make notes about the specific expressions the client was using. Say that a client wanted to spend more time with his daughter rather than fumbling around with accounting software. We would use these specific phrases in our business proposals and any subsequent meetings we had. The client would hear their own words when we talked about the product we were selling and that made them feel like we know what’s at the heart of their problem. This is a super effective and easy trick to use and it won’t cost you a dime.
Find out what the client actually wants
If you run an SEO agency and a potential client comes up asking to rank first on Google for “Sydney plumber”, you may just jump into it and offer them your standard SEO package. However, this is not how the best clients are won. A lot of times, you just need to scratch an itch beyond the surface to find out the client’s real need. In this case, they may have decent success with organic traffic but they could be struggling to convert that traffic into leads.
When you sit down for your client meetings before you send them out a business proposal, make sure to find out what the client actually needs. A lot of times, they could be convinced that they need one thing when the reality is completely different. Not only will you provide a lot more value this way, but you will also be much more likely to get that client to sign.
Back to the example mentioned above – we really had a client who wanted to automate a lot of his work because he couldn’t spend enough time with his daughter. This was in a software company that I worked for and we won that client. We didn’t tell him that we would build him an awesome app that would revolutionize his life, increase revenue or do something groundbreaking. We simply focused on one thing in the introduction to our business proposals – we’ll help you spend more time with your daughter, and here’s how. That’s how clients are won, so don’t talk about what you do or what you think the client needs – focus on listening to them carefully.
Integrate and automate everything you can
We’re in the business of selling proposal software that helps people sell. One thing I realized is that our customers use software to save time on things they don’t want to do manually. Instead of writing proposals for a few hours at a time, they use a proposal template and create one within 20 minutes. Now, that’s just one aspect of sales taken care of.
We did some research and found out that if our users integrate our software with their CRM, they create proposals 83.6% faster. The integration allows them to auto-fill client data directly from the CRM. This not only saves massive time but also reduces the possibility of error when manually typing client information.
If you have a chance to connect your sales software through integrations, use it. Not only will you save significant time for your sales team but you will also be far less likely to make any kind of human error.
Your CRM is just one example of what could be automated. In our case, we made a major breakthrough when we integrated our app with different payment processors such as credit card companies and Paypal. We removed one major obstacle from the payment process by allowing potential clients to sign the proposal and pay immediately after reading it instead of waiting for days for an invoice to come in.
Price according to value
Pricing is one of the two most important things in every business proposal – this is something we learned a while ago. Sometime it depends on how much they spent on steps in product development. However, many small businesses and freelancers struggle with setting their prices. It’s hard to set a good balance and make the price attractive to the client and still lucrative to you as the person who does the work. After years of trying out different approaches, I found one that works best for selling – pricing according to value.
You can read more about it here in detail, but there are a few ways to price a service:
- By the hour or day
- A fixed price with a markup
- Retainer package
- By value
Starting out, many freelancers charge by the hour, which actually doesn’t make all that sense if you want to earn more. What does make sense is charging based on the value you provide. For example, if you’re redesigning an eCommerce website and you know that the redesign will make an extra $10,000 per month for the store, it makes perfect sense to ask $20,000 and more for the redesign. After all, the client will return their investment in as little as two months.
The bottom line is – the more value you provide to the client, the more you can charge. Of course, to get to this point, you need two things to happen.
First, you need to find out exactly what the client wants, what their situation is and how you can help them. Only when you have all the details can you know how much you can increase their bottom line. This is why you need to have detailed discovery sessions and client interviews.
Second and just as important, you really need to be great at what you do and have a proven track record with other clients. Once you have both of these dialed in, you’ll be getting the maximum revenue for each client without working yourself to the bone.
Offer a guarantee
I’m not trying to reinvent the wheel here, but guarantees work great as a way to convince your clients that you stand behind your work. Traditional guarantees have become very commonplace, but in the world of selling services, they’re not used as much. The experience we have from our own customers showed us that guarantees can be incredibly powerful method to move the client one step closer to purchasing.
There are traditional guarantees where you promise to return the money if the customer is not satisfied. These are all fine and dandy, but they won’t excite the client to sign. One of our regular customers builds websites in 24 hours and her guarantee is that if she doesn’t get it done, you don’t pay. Now that’s a crazy guarantee that anyone would be willing to test. You don’t have to do something similar but try to do something unusual to get potential clients even more excited about working with you.
Back up your claims with proof
There is one thing that all of our customers with great conversions have in common. They have a section in their proposals focusing on the proof. There is nothing more powerful to convince your clients to spend money with you than seeing your work in action. Add some testimonials from previous clients and you’re halfway to getting the client to reach for their credit card.
The proof can be anything that shows how you helped a previous client. From short quotes to full-blown testimonials, videos, portfolios – anything goes. Don’t tell the client to go and see examples of your work on your website. That’s lazy and will only backfire. Include relevant proof in your business proposals or even in the discovery meetings.
One part where you have to be careful is to make the proof relevant to the client you’re pitching to. For example, there’s no use showing a website you redesigned for a restaurant if you’re trying to win a redesign job for a law firm. The proof should be super specific if you want it to achieve the intended effect.
Don’t upsell where you don’t have to
Upselling is a key part of the sales game, along with cross-selling. It’s a good tactic to get a client who’s already interested to spend more than they initially intended. The problem is, it does not always work this way. With business proposals, the main aim is to get the client’s signature and wrap up the proposal.
You’re practically giving the client two choices – sign the proposal and hire you or not sign and walk away. You could include a few pricing options and packages with your offer, thinking it would be good to give the client different options. In reality, the more options there are, the more difficult it is to get the client to say yes to your offer. Instead of a simple “yes” or “no”, now they have at least several choices. Needless to say, business proposals that don’t have any upsells have higher conversions and sell for higher values.
Control the situation
Back in the days of normal when the coronavirus pandemic wasn’t ruling every aspect of our life, you would usually have meetings with clients before sending them your business proposals. Some people find these meetings tedious and a waste of time, but for me, it was a great chance to prepare my ground and increase my chances of getting the sale.
If you’re meeting with a client, avoid going to their office. That way, the client is in control, as they show you in, lead you to the person in charge and let you start the meeting. They control when you start and when it ends and in a lot of cases, they get interrupted by people calling or barging into the office.
Instead, choose a neutral ground. I suggest using cafes in the lobbies of fancy hotels because it doesn’t require a lot of effort to make you look great. Speaking of which, dress for the occasion as well. Arrive there 15 minutes early, settle in and grab a drink as you wait for the client. You control the situation and how the meeting will go. If you have your own office, that’s ideal. However, as I was starting out (and as many freelancers do), my company was just me offering design services. This was a simple trick to leave a superb first impression.
Depending on what you sell, there are millions of little tricks that you can use to improve your sales process. These are some of the very best that I picked up in my years of freelancing, working at an agency and running my own business as I help others get more sales. While these tricks are somewhat different, they have one thing in common – tap into your customers’ actual needs and desires instead of what they tell you they need. Do that right and you’ll have an offer that no one can refuse.