Close prospects, open relationships with Vendasta’s George LeithBy Solange Messier
It’s no secret that sales is a tough job. According to Vendasta’s Chief Customer Officer George Leith, the closing rate on deals hovers around 2.5 and 3.25 percent across industries.
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Getting the sales pitch down is key to successful closings. Yet, if you’re only thinking about making the deal, you might miss the opportunity to build a relationship.
Leith shares why you shouldn’t think about the close as the end. It’s actually the start of a client relationship. Leith then explores 10 key elements of a sales pitch—and how your team can apply them post-closing.
Why closing means opening relationships
“The customer is at the heart of everything we do, and that includes the sales process.”
The first 90 days after you close a deal are often crucial. You want to spend them proving your company’s value to the customer, then adding more value.
This 90-day period lets you consult with your clients and align expectations. Checking in often and allowing customers to review KPIs helps build rapport. You’ll set the bar and establish clear goals.
“We’ll spend a good 90 days proving to the customer we can impact their online presence positively and we can make them look better, appear relevant, appear more often, appear consistently online, and get them ready to drive eyeballs to their businesses. So 90 days later, we’ll create an opportunity to sell some paid search to the customer—if it’s relevant—if it makes sense for them.”
10 elements of a successful sales pitch and how to apply them post-sale
The more you know, the more able you are to present your company as the solution for the challenges the customer is facing.
Take the time to understand both the prospect’s business needs and personal needs. If you know they’re looking for a sales CRM, try to understand the kind of customer that they’re seeking and what they’re trying to achieve with the new software.
Research is even more vital after closing. You want to show the client you didn’t come in just to sell them something. You came in to solve the problem.
2. Understand the problem
Crafting the perfect sales pitch is less about selling, and more about helping. To start, define the prospect’s problem. Then outline the solution, articulating what you do and how it relates to the challenge they’re facing.
Leith recommends adhering to a 30-60-90-day formula for check-ins. He also suggests reviewing data with the client to show ROI. Gather anecdotal data from the client to see what is working and what’s not. An executive report can highlight positive changes within the client’s business. It can also highlight growth opportunities.
Leith reminds us that we need to be transparent and realistic. The entire problem may not be solved at 30, 60, or even 90 days.
3. Know your offering inside and out
Leith says, “When we talk about that sales process, we want to become students of the customer. We’re asking questions, we’re digging for the nuggets, and then we develop a strategy that matches the needs of that customer.”
Knowing your offering inside and out is key here. You can see how it solves their problem. You can then show how the offering aligns with their needs.
After the closing, you want to check in with the customer and make sure they’re experiencing full functionality. You may even want to walk them through how to use the product.
At a later check-in, you may want to upsell other products and services as a strategy to growing your existing client base and solving any additional needs that you’ve identified.
4. Ask questions
You want to create dialogue with your prospects. To engage customers, try posing an open-ended question.
A question is more engaging and interactive for the prospect. It also gives you an opportunity to gather better information. The more you know, the more customized the conversation will be.
You should keep asking questions even after the deal closes. Is the product working the way the customer thought it would? What could be done to improve the experience?
Work with your clients to set goals and timelines, and be sure to revisit these often.
5. Tell a story
Storytelling is one of the most powerful tools we have at our disposal. Stories are more engaging—neural activity in the brain’s sensory cortex increases five-fold. They’re also much more likely to “stick” with the customer than facts alone.
Stories connect your client emotionally, which makes it easier for them to remember.
In the sales proposal, analogies can help explain what the product or service does. Post-closing, your storytelling should shift to illustrate what has been accomplished.
If you have clients who have been very successful, ask if you can use them as a case study. Case studies turn your clients into protagonists. Keep in mind that the majority of clients look at reviews. A case study gives new customers a story to latch on to.
6. Use contrast
When you’re crafting narratives, think about the “from here to there” structure. Where is the prospect right now? Where will your solution take them?
Post-closing, you can use contrast to highlight how much progress the client has made.
7. Focus on benefits (then features)
When you’re describing what you deliver, lead with benefits. “No one cares if your product can find keywords within a 25-mile radius. What they do care about is if you can help them find new customers,” Leith advises.
After the sale, communicating benefits is much more intuitive.
Why should you clients choose you and not your competitors?
This is your Unique Selling Proposition (USP) or brand promise. This statement should be unique to your business. Your competitors shouldn’t be able to simply swap their name in and call it a day.
Focus on what you do and why you do it. This is the best way to create brand loyalists. When your clients truly buy in, they’ll support you proudly and openly. They can’t do that if they’re not sure what makes your company different.
9. Show a success story
Showing clients a success story can explain the benefits and define what you do. It also shows them someone who has done it before.
Explaining the tactics used gives the client a concrete understanding of how your solution works in the real world.
After the deal closes, share success stories about customers that showcase repeatability. Aim for similarity, Leith suggests. The closer the industry, the more relatable (and memorable) the story is.
10. Consistent follow-up
Finally, you want to follow up and keep following up. Following up post-closing is even more important than checking in to make the sale.
Check in early and often. It’s easy to correct course when something is just starting to go a little awry. It’s much harder if you’ve been off-course for months on end.
Be open with the client. Be clear about the plan and what you’re doing to achieve their goals. Finally, make sure you discuss any problems and unmet expectations.
Put the customer front and center
As Leith tells us early on in the episode, the client is at the heart of everything, including the sales process. Once your team knows that, it’s much easier to stop seeing the close as the end of the sales process—and see it as the opening of a relationship.
The same elements you use to craft perfect sales pitches can be used to build those relationships and turn your customers into loyal brand enthusiasts.