Over the last few years I’ve tried to help you increase your revenue by teaching you how to sell. I’ve broken down the system I use for closing big deals, and I’ve even talked about the strategies I’ve learned over the years.
But what works for me probably won’t work for you. Why? It’s because I’ve spent the last ten years building my brand by speaking at conferences, blogging and going to hundreds of networking events. All of those efforts have resulted in 1,200 businesses hitting me up each and every month.
When you are starting out, no one is going to come knocking on your door. So the big question is… how are you going to close $100,000 deals when people don’t know about you?
Well, my VP of sales, Ben Sardella, created a 7-step process you can use to generate millions of dollars in revenue each year. He used the same strategy at TRUSTe and took them from being non-profitable to generating $16,000,000 in annual sales. He was also the first sales rep at NetSuite, who he grew them from being a startup with no revenue to being a company worth six billion dollars… all with the same 7-step process.
So what’s this 7-step process? Here are the steps:
- Find your prospect
- Contact your prospect
- Make it about them
- Help them
- Create a proposal
- Create a mutual action plan
- Always follow up
Now, lets dive into each step:
Step #1: Find your prospect
Who is your ideal prospect? Is it a small business or a large one? What type of company? Which department are you selling to within a company?
At KISSmetrics, our ideal customer is a software as a service or e-commerce company that generates at least a million dollars a year in revenue. Within those two company types, we ideally want to sell to the VP of marketing, director of marketing or marketing manager as they are the decision makers.
This method of identifying your ideal customer is called the Zebra Method, in which you identify your ideal customer type and only sell to them and no one else. By focusing your efforts, you will be able to improve your closing ratios.
Once you know your ideal customer, you can then find them using Data.com, which mainly focuses on the Fortune 5,000. Alternatively, you can use LinkedIn. LinkedIn works well for companies of all sizes.
Through those two services, you will not only be able to find companies, but you will also be able to get the email address and, potentially, phone number of the exact person you want to contact within a company.
If you are selling a web-based technology, you can also use Datanyze to get contact records of the top million sites on the web.
Step #2: Contact your prospect
By now you should have a list of potential customers along with their contact information. Before you contact any of them, you should do a bit of research on their company and on them.
Try to find any quotes about them from press pieces or even blog posts. Look to see if they have a website, Facebook page, Twitter profile or anything else you can think of. You can also use Rapportive to help you with this task.
Once you’ve learned a bit more about them, you want to send them an email quoting something about them as this will increase the odds of them responding. Ideally, that quote should be related to a pain they may be having your product or service can solve.
Here is an example of an email our KISSmetrics VP of sales would send me…
Subject: are you really making data-based decisions?
I noticed you mentioned on Quick Sprout that you should base your business decisions off data. I wanted to introduce you to KISSmetrics because we can provide you with data on your customers that will help you boost your lifetime value and reduce your churn.
If you are wondering how effective our solution is, companies like Microsoft, Hulu, and Amazon use it on a daily basis to make better business decisions.
Let me know when you are free to chat.
Before you send your email, however, make sure you use Yesware to track if they received, and even opened, your email. Once you email them, you will want to call them and leave a message letting them know your name, the company you are with and the fact that you sent them an email. The reason I said to leave a message is because it is very unlikely that you will be able to get a hold of them through the phone.
If by a slim chance you are able to get a hold of them on the phone, ask them if it is a good time to chat. If it is, proceed to step 3. If it isn’t, ask them what day and time would be good for a 15-minute call to learn about their business.
If they don’t have time to chat with you now or in the future, ask them if they can give you permission to talk to someone on their team. If they say yes, ask for an email introduction as this creates a “referral”, which should help that new person trust you a bit more.
Step #3: Make it about them
During your call you should rarely talk about yourself. The call isn’t about you or your company: it should be about them.
Within your conversation, you should be able to find the problems they are facing, diagnose them and get to the root of the problem. This will help you determine how you or your company can potentially help them.
Sometimes you may realize that your company can’t solve their problems. If that is the case, be upfront with them. Don’t try to sell them a promise you can’t deliver on.
Lastly, you need to ask them who else within the company is experiencing the same pain. If there is someone else, you should ask for an introduction. The reason this is important is because it tells you if there are any other people that can influence the decision.
If there are other people in the organization who are facing the same problem, go back to step number 2.
Step #4: Help them
The way you can help potential customers is by explaining how you can solve their problems. In essence you are doing this through a pitch.
Don’t make the pitch about how great your product or service is. Instead, make it about how you can solve your potential customer’s problems. You should be giving them examples of how you have helped similar companies solve the same problem.
In addition to that, the pitch should talk about how much money you can save them or how much money you can make them. This is what decision-makers want to hear.
Step #5: Create a proposal
Your proposal should include logos of the companies you worked with, testimonials and what the prospect is going to get by working with you.
You will also have to put a price within the proposal. If you are unsure of what to charge, price based on what you think it is worth to the company. If you ask them what their budget is or what they are willing to pay, they will typically lie and give you a lower number.
Within the proposal, you should also include how much money your product or service is going to save them or make them potentially. This creates a sense of urgency, making them feel that the longer they wait to sign it, the more money they lose.
Step #6: Create a mutual action plan
One of the biggest reasons deals don’t close is because companies aren’t 100% sure what they are getting. The best way to solve this problem is to create a mutual action plan.
The plan should start with identifying the date the company becomes a satisfied, happy customer as a result of using your product or service. Then you need to work backwards to the date when they sign the agreement. In between those two dates, there will be a list of everything both of you will be doing to ensure the success of this project.
This helps ensure that you will be helping the company become successful and encourages the company to sign the contract sooner rather than later.
Step #7: Always follow up
Although this is the last step, it should be used within each step. I would actually say it is the most important step because if you skip it, you won’t be able to close any deals.
You should never miss an email or phone call. Follow up each step of the way and be clear with your communication. Also, respond within a timely fashion… ideally within an hour or two and never later than 24 hours.
If you follow the 7 steps above, you should be able to lock in big deals on a regular basis. This process doesn’t just work for Ben, our VP of sales; it also works for any new sales people we hire. And it has also worked for thousands of other companies.
When leveraging this process, make sure you don’t skip any steps. You have to put in the time and effort to make this work. If you do it right, you can easily close six-figure deals.
What other tactics can you use to close big deals?