We all know the numbers. The conversion rate for B2B businesses from lead to opportunity stands at about 13% according to research conducted by Salesforce in 2014. From opportunity to deal the rate goes down to 6%.
The average time for conversion from lead to opportunity is 84 days. The time it takes to close the deal with those 6% is much shorter, taking on average 18 days.
How to attract more conversions is the big question. Some experts say their conversion rate stands at about 20%. What are they doing that the rest of us do not?
Here is some advice from those who know:
Efficiency in Prospecting
Every salesperson knows that cold calling is time consuming and sometimes an ego busting practice. But it has to be done.
It is more profitable for B2B businesses to go after big name clients with large orders than small clients with small orders, so focus on bigger prospects. When you establish a relationship with a well-known customer, the small ones will find you.
Not all days of the week are created equal. Towards the end of the week, when most of the work has been done and people are looking forward to the weekend, is a better time for a chat than Monday, for example. Mondays are usually devoted to putting out fires and planning the week, and are not the best time to chat idly and offer something new.
Same goes for the hour of the day. When is this person the busiest? To schedule a meeting, you can offer a few openings and let the prospect choose the date and time that is good for him.
Do Your Homework
It can be very embarrassing if you misspell the name or the title of the person you meet, so some homework is in order. Learn whatever you can about that person, from his social media, google searches and LinkedIn. If you happen to know someone in the company, ask for intel. That is when you will find if the person you are about to meet is a morning person who is sluggish after lunch, or one that likes to arrive late and works best in the afternoon hours.
If you know lower level employees of the company, ask for their opinion about the product you are about to offer and how they think it will integrate with their work flow, structure and solve main problems. This will allow you to compile your presentation accordingly.
Get to a Yes
Nobel prize winner in economic science (2002), Daniel Kahneman, is actually a psychologist. His main field of research is human irrationality. In his book “Thinking, Fast and Slow” (2011) he talks, among other things, about the psychology of getting people to say yes: people are inclined to accept your offer if they previously agreed with something you have proposed.
In a meeting ask simple questions that a simple yes or no will answer. “Your company exists since 2011, right?” is such question. When you move to the substantive part, the other side will be more likely to be positively minded toward your offer.
Like it or not it’s “who you know” that makes the sale. Business leaders tend to buy products and services from people they know and trust. But from time to time the need arises to go outside their circle.
Building trust is not easy. Start by building mutual respect. Be genuine with your interest in the prospect’s company, try to find common ground and interests. Mention mutual friends and acquaintances. Be honest and never over promise.
Arrive on time, start on time, and end on time. Let the prospect understand that you value his/her time. Keep your presentation to under 20 minutes and focus on the most important question – how your product will help/ease/assist in making his/her life a little easier and help grow the business.
Explain your edge over the competition, and why your product will serve them beter. Find something that separates you from the top performers in your field. Showcase your winning edge.
Why Your Product?
Remember, you are not selling a product, you are selling a solution to the client’s problems. It’s not about praising the design of the product, or listing all the features. It’s about the client’s problems and solutions. Construct your presentation this way.
Show and Tell
Instead of a presentation, can you present the client with the actual product? Displaying the real thing, whether it is a software or actual product makes people trust you. It can also demonstrate your resourcefulness and knowledge about the product.
People love stories, especially those with a happy ending. Bringing a solution to someone’s problem is a happy ending, isn’t it? You undoubtedly have some success stories. Use case study to show how your product or service helped someone to turn his business around.
Make a Great Presentation
Human’s ability to remember what they saw is 5 times greater than what they heard or read. That is why visualization is important.
When it comes to text, seeing blocks of black text can (and will) deter many people. Keep your texts in your head rather on the screen.
Learn About Body Language
Learning body language signs is very important. In fact, they say that 93% of your sales results depend on your body language. From a firm hand shake to strong eye contact. Use body language technics to make your prospect feel comfortable. Experts suggest to imitate your client’s movements and speaking speed. Your tone of voice should be enthusiastic, passionate and convincing.
Act as an adviser, not a Salesperson
Sentences like “I think the best solution for you is…” or “to solve the problems you are struggling with, I would do…” Outline the benefits of your product.
Engage with Everyone
Although it might seem logical to address the decision maker in the room, it’s a smart advice to address and connect with the others as well. Show interest in everyone’s remarks and ideas. Try to elevate each one’s fears during the meeting and ask a, after the presentation, if there are other issues they want to discuss.
Under Promise and Over Deliver
If you don’t know the answer to a question, don’t make it up. It might be they are testing your knowledge and/or your integrity. Admit you have to look further into this subject. And don’t promise a solution that can’t be delivered (like smooth compatibility with other programs).
It might happen that you need to have another meeting after some deliberations on their part. Try to have a clear and actionable next step.
That is the Achilles heel of B2B businesses everywhere, because one follow-up communication is not enough. Only about a third of salespeople send a follow up email. Here are some B2B business statistics:
- 44% of salespeople give up after one follow-up
- The average salesperson makes only 2 attempts to reach a prospect
- 80% of sales require 5 follow-up calls after the meeting
- If you follow up with web leads within 5 minutes, you are 9 times more likely to convert them
- Nurtured leads produce on average a 20% increase in sales opportunities
- 70% of people make purchases to solve problems, 30% make decisions to gain something
Make Your Emails Personal
People don’t like getting automated emails, especially if they met the sender. Give a personal touch to your emails, keep them short and include only the most relevant details.
It is sometimes beneficial to give discounts if the buyer will make the purchase up to a certain date, like a 20% discount for 6 months if the deal is closed within a week.
Special proposals create a fear of missing out and help speed up decision making. Make sure that the deal you offer will not strip you off your earnings. On the other hand, don’t cheapen your brand by making too deep discounts.
You Can’t Remember Everything
Every sales meeting can be beneficial in some ways even if you didn’t make a sale. You might think you can remember everything that was said in the previous meeting but in reality you are likely to forget details.
Write yourself a report about the meeting. Collect and store the meeting data. This way you will be able to remember the meeting better and maybe learn from your mistakes.
Keep in Touch
40% of the prospects you meet today will make a decision a year after the initial meeting. If the customer is not ready to move after the first sales appointment, stay in touch every couple of months to remind them of your product.
Use the notes you have from the initial meeting. Calling again and showing concern places you in a good spot. Again, don’t try to sell. See if the problem the client had has been fixed.
There must be some customers who are fans of your product. Turn you biggest fans to brand advocates by asking them to refer your product/services to their friends and business partners. Quality referrals can enhance your company’s reputation. Peer to peer endorsements are the strongest ones. Reach out to those people and turn them into free advertisement.
It looks like closing a deal, in the B2B environment, has more to do with the source of the referral than the talent of the sales person.
B2B sales processes are complex, with prolonged decision cycles and with some channels delivering better performance than others. The top of the list of delivery is occupied by employee and customer referrals, followed by company websites, then social media.