A majority of those who are in the business of deal closing, partnership building, contract negotiations, and sales, etc., don’t have an issue with lead generation. The problem lies within the deal closing process, and how efficiently something can be marked as won.
Especially when it comes to those who are bringing in work, whether for themselves, or for their company, it’s a matter of having a constant stream of proposals and agreements through the door.
Closing More Deals
Often times, you’ll encounter two types of potential clients. There’s one who knows exactly what they need, and you’ll be able to tell them right away if you can take their project or not. Then there’s the ones who have no idea, and need their hand held through the entire process. More often than not, you’ll be handling a lot of the hand-hold types.
The key here is to save time, both on your end and theirs. Here are some guidelines on how to do so.
- Extract only the information you need to write up a proposal. Some clients tend to beat around the bush with what they’re looking for. Get a list of bullet points out of them, and save any extra information for a phone call.
- Make sure that their time frame and budget aligns with yours. If you can’t take their project or account right away, say that up front. Put them on old, but don’t let the lead go cold. If they know you’re good, they’ll be willing to wait for you to accommodate them.
- If you can do exactly what they’re looking for, tell them straight forward, and head into the negotiation process. If you can’t, send them to someone who can. Referrals go a long way to gaining future business as well.
Time Spent in Closing Deals
I see the deal process in this fashion: Lead – Pitch – Negotiation – Closing – Won
It’s important to know how much time you spend in each part of your deal pipeline. (Shameless plug, Stride keeps these metrics handy). The rates of failure or success varies from stage to stage. As you progress a lead through the stages, with each progression, you are increasingly likely to close them as new business.
With that said, the majority of losses are often in the Lead stage and Pitch stage. If your pitch is successful and you move into negotiations, your chances of winning the deal skyrockets.
Naturally, you’ll spend the most time in Negotiations, and in Closing. As this is where you’ll be writing up proposals, and finalizing scopes of work. However, with a huge jump in success rates, try focusing a bit more time during the pitching and follow-up process, to funnel people into negotiations.
Signs of a Deal Going Well
Instinctively, when it comes to deals made around work, you only want to take in clients that you can handle. With that said, here’s how to tell when your lead is going well:
- Consistent email communication with timely responses from the other side
- Explicit interest, typically in the format of “we’re excited” or “we’re looking forward to working together”
- Follow-through on action items that fall on their plate
But as we all know, things rarely go this smoothly. If you find that the deal is stalling, or not showing the signs mentioned above, there’s a few things you can do to get it back on track:
- Set up a recurring meeting (typically weekly or bi-weekly) to check in on status and lay out next steps
- Provide simplistic visuals to clearly explain the value and details of the deal, making it easy for the point person to get buyoff from the rest of their organization
- Connect with the point person on Linkedin, follow them on Twitter, and INTERACT. Build a relationship outside of business
- To get get a face to face meeting in place, there’s nothing more powerful than a real human interaction
As you progress into a more refined sales process, take into account the statistics of your own sales and business development funnel. Understand where your hitches are and after what stage does your chances of success increase greatly.
Kevin Chau is in charge of growth at Stride, a startup that’s helping change the way people think about sales by making it easier to manage new business.