How to Work (And Close) 3x The Sales Deals
Author: Sarah Hicks
According to Nick Cegelski, a recent guest on the Predictable Revenue podcast, when considering their deal mechanics, most salespeople think only in terms of what happens inside their meetings. They script, practice, and finesse the things they say, do, show, and the way they interact with their prospects in real-time. But not enough salespeople think about all of the white space between meetings. It’s this area that, when focused on, allows you to carry a higher volume of pipeline than your peers. When you carry more pipeline, a feedback loop occurs and you’re able to get better, faster. So developing proper deal mechanics to include what happens both in and between meetings is where you’re going to maximize your income, kill your quota, and learn how to pick and choose which deals you want to invest your time in so you have the best chance of winning.
THE LAZY MAN WORKS THE HARDEST
Take a proposal call, for example. Nick sells complicated enterprise deals, and when he has a proposal call he usually has just one or a few of the key decision-makers from the account on the line. For this example, we’ll say it’s the CFO, but also involved in this decision would be the CEO, COO, and President. Most salespeople in Nick’s position would follow this routine after the call: send an email to the decision-maker who was on the line saying “thank you, here’s the proposal, let me know if you have any questions.” It then becomes the CFO’s responsibility to go to all the other decision-makers and present the proposal based on a pdf that was dumped in their inbox. This method is about as effective in communicating all the necessary context and detail to the buying committee as playing a game of telephone.
Here’s what Nick does instead. He first goes over the proposal with the CFO, 1 on 1, and when he knows there are other people who need to understand the nuances of the proposal as well, he sends them each a 5-minute video. He uses the free version of Vidyard to record a screen share where he walks them through the proposal. Now, this may sound like it’s more work, but as Nick’s college wrestling coach used to say, “the lazy man works the hardest.” Sure, it would be easier to just fire off a templated email, attach the proposal, and cc all the relevant parties. But you’re going to find yourself fielding a bunch of different questions from different people over email, and it’s going to get messy. Additionally, some of the stakeholders may not feel comfortable asking their questions on a huge company thread, so they may not bother asking them at all.
Nick’s goal with deal mechanics is to minimize friction for the buyers. Video is a great tool to do just that. It allows you to add detail, context, and colour throughout your sales cycle and provides a method of communicating information quickly and effectively. This is vital, especially if you’re managing a complex deal where there are multiple decision-makers not necessarily present on every call. So Nick uses video wherever he can to open a dialogue with all stakeholders, to recap calls, and provide context on collateral.
Let’s dig a little deeper into how Nick uses collateral. Nick maintains that too many salespeople lean heavily on collateral, but don’t truly understand its value. When his clients ask him specific questions and he has collateral to support his answer, he doesn’t just send over the entire thing and leave the prospect to find what they’re looking for. First, he uses his strong discovery skills to determine where exactly the prospect would like more context and why it’s so important to them so that he can tailor his response. Then he sends over a personalized video, this time referring to the exact section of the collateral where the prospect can find what they’re looking for. Once again, Nick does the work for the customer instead of dumping a document in their inbox and expecting them to contextualize it for themselves and the rest of the company.
PICK UP THE PHONE
The phone is Nick’s secret weapon, and it’s not for the reason you think. It’s certainly a great tool for prospecting, but Nick finds it equally, if not more valuable when he uses it to work an active deal. Say he gets an email reply from that CFO or another stakeholder asking a question. The question may be simple and it may be easy to shoot over an email response, but Nick takes any opportunity he can to have an actual conversation with his customers, so he picks up the phone and calls them. Another stage in the cycle where Nick uses the phone is after a big group demo. It may be the first time they’ve been on a call with anyone on the buying committee except their champion, so a lot of salespeople wouldn’t feel comfortable calling up the other leaders. But Nick calls each of the people on that demo individually to get immediate feedback and ask 3 questions:
1. Was there anything you were hoping to see that we didn’t address today?
2. What reservations do you have right now, anything you need me to take care of to make you feel more comfortable with this?
3. (If this is a competitive deal) Where do I stand relative to the competition? Am I winning this deal or losing it?
And here are the 3 benefits Nick enjoys:
1. Having conversations with everybody builds consensus. You can’t expect everyone’s individual needs to be met after a big group demo, so this gives him the opportunity to learn what he needs to progress the deal.
2. People are less guarded on the phone. If they got an email from you asking where you stand relative to the competition, they may not be inclined to divulge that information.
3. Instead of trying to type out a personalized email to each stakeholder to try and engage them individually, and fretting over spelling, grammar, and structure, Nick can focus on what really matters.
Nick connects with every single person he talks to after every single meeting. He sends a personalized connection message and, if he can’t get them on the phone, then a follow-up message to have a conversation over LinkedIn. Similarly to the phone, Nick finds that the walls come down when you move away from email.
GIVE YOUR PROSPECT AN OUT
One of the advantages of good deal mechanics Nick mentioned is the ability to understand, then pick and choose which deals you should be focusing your time and energy on. One of the ways you can weed customers that have no interest in buying is by giving them an out. It starts at the beginning of every meeting with a clear agenda. Confirm at the beginning of your call how much time the customer has, and then mention that you’d like to wrap up 5 minutes before the allotted time is up to discuss next steps. Nick tells his customers that by the end of the call, 1 of 2 things will happen.
1. “You may decide we’re not a good fit, and if that’s the case, you won’t hurt my feelings by letting me know. I don’t want to be one of those salespeople who bothers you endlessly.”
2. “If you decide we’re a good fit, here’s what typically happens…” and Nick goes on to outline a couple of next steps.
They can let you know in the first 5 minutes of the meeting if they don’t like the sound of next steps, and you have a chance to handle those objections on the call. If they don’t mention anything, then you circle back to it at the end of the call in the 5 minutes you saved and give them an opportunity to voice their concerns again, and set next steps.
SET NEXT STEPS
This is something a lot of sales reps struggle with. Nick finds that most salespeople know they’re supposed to set next steps, but often don’t manage to get them on the books. A lot of issues here are caused by improper agenda setting and poor time management and can be resolved by following the guidance outlined in the GIVE YOUR PROSPECT AN OUT section above. But if there’s anything you take away from this blog post or listening to Nick’s podcast episode, it’s this. Set the next step while you’re on the call with your customer, otherwise, you’ll waste hours of your time between touching base and checking in with half of your pipeline, and those hours could be spent talking to new prospects or practicing good deal mechanics between meetings.
We’ve all wondered why some Account Executives seem to be closing deals all the time while their colleagues from the same team are hustling to get the minimum amount of deals over the line by the end of each month. They’re both getting the same amount of meetings booked by their SDRs, so what’s the problem? According to Nick Cegelski, you can’t carry the volume of pipeline that you need if you’re not running your deals with best-practice deal mechanics. That includes thinking as much about what happens between the meetings as what happens during meetings, using video, phone, and LinkedIn to engage all the decision-makers involved in complex enterprise deals, giving your prospects an out, and setting next steps.
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