Getting From No To Yes

Written by John Harden

Over the years we have used this first newsletter of the year to reflect on subjects that have been on the top of our client’s list of things they want to solve.

Regardless of why and where we are engaged, it is clear that clients are looking to invest in projects that accomplish one thing – generate more revenue and gain market share.  Everything else is just details that support those goals.

Since there is so much interest about generating new sales for businesses selling to other businesses (B2B), we thought it would be helpful to highlight some key areas that can truly matter to your bottom-line.  In doing so, it is important for all businesses to understand the end customer sales cycle as well, whether it be a Business to Business or a Business to Consumer (B2C) sales model. 

Even in good times, getting past “No” to “YES” is a challenge.  In today’s world that requires at least 10-12 coordinated, consistent, concise, and compelling touch points that nurture the relationship along toward the confidence and trust required before buying your product or service.

Adding to the challenge is the fact that in tough times a prospective customer may be less willing to consider a new product or service because there is less margin for error to take on new risks – even if it may represent a better solution.  This makes the sales process even trickier for new customer acquisition.  So it’s not surprising, then, that customers and prospects might see us and our enthusiastic recommendations for change and better value as being more than a little threatening.

Toward the goal of successfully nurturing a prospect toward becoming a customer, or keeping one you already have, there are some universal truths that deserve to be dusted off as reminders early in the New Year on how to continue to get to better results from your marketing and sales efforts:

Break your message down into bite-size pieces.  The human brain can only handle five active items at a time.  Do a “dump” on someone, and watch their eyes roll back in their head.  If your solution involves complex products and services, significant resource commitments, extended development cycles, or a large price tag, you are talking a comfort level low in the decision making zone.  Rome wasn’t built in a day, so think through what it is that people need to hear and see to feel comfortable in buying what you sell.  Then plot out how and when you will deliver that information over time.  

Keep it short and simple.  Simple is always better than complex.  Easy is always less risky than difficult.  Try to avoid the temptation of adding in extra elements when you are preparing your recommendation – no matter how tempting it is to add just one more thing that you are absolutely certain will close the deal.

Always link your solution to your customer’s needs.  One of the best ways to have the outcome you are looking for is to leave no doubt as to how your product or service will solve the problem.  Start any presentation with a quick summary of the two or three key issues that your prospect needs solved.  Ask for their confirmation of your read of the situation.  Then for each, link your solution back to how your product or service addresses it, what their benefit will be, and support it by previous success stories to build the confidence that it will actually work.  Remember, people buy solutions – results – not theory.

Include guarantees when appropriate.  Sometimes our clients are nervous with this concept.  We ask them, when there is a problem do they always make it right.  If the answer is yes, we suggest that since they are in effect providing a guarantee already, they might as well include it in their offering to help close more sales.  The one caution is that if your customer must deliver on their end to realize the results you promise, be careful to make those requirements clear in your agreement.  Examples are any action they need to take, deadlines they need to meet, or the promised availability of inside resources, etc.  Having said that, your potential buyer is more likely to feel protected if you are willing to offer them a way of measuring your collective performance – and you are also putting some of your revenue at risk.

It’s not about you.  We need to always add value in everything we do.  Always leave our customer better off than before they did business with us.  If it is not Win-Win, it can’t be justified – an old-fashioned value that is still true.  It is the right thing to do and, here’s the best part, it is good business in the long run when they come back again, expand their relationship with us, and send referrals. 

Provide a convincing value proposition.  People will take risks when the potential payoff is big enough.  Unfortunately, most proposals fail to articulate a clear, compelling value proposition.  No buzz terms that only an insider would understand and your prospect has to decode.  Just good old plain English.  And make sure it includes quantifiable, measurable results that will have a positive impact on their lives.

Paint a picture.  Tie your recommendation to inescapable compelling events. If the client has a fixed date in the future by which something has to be done, and your solution will help them get there, make the connection obvious.  Finally, describe how great things will be, and get excited together!

Need more proof?  There are quantifiable business benefits to be realized by paying attention to these points that mean increased profits.  Independent research done by Forrester shows companies using nurturing strategies realize:

• Increased closing rates by 30%
• Increased revenue by 18%
• Increased revenue per deal by 17%.

And some of the key components of the Harden 360 Methodology beat these results across the board.

As always, we would welcome the opportunity to hear your dreams for your business, and offer suggestions on how you can get there faster and with better results.  Please click here to view our new two-minute movie.  It shows how we have been able to get results for our clients.

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