Get More From Your Closed Deals

You just closed a huge contract and you’re flying high on the post-deal buzz, complete with high fives from your colleagues, and a nod and thumbs up from your boss. Your commission check is going to have a little extra padding this month, and you’re feeling great. Suddenly you are hit with the heavy and disappointing realization that your pipeline is now much smaller than it was, and you no longer have this exciting contract to look forward to. It’s already closed, now what?

One of the biggest and most common mistakes companies and salespeople make is assuming that the sales avenue is over after the initial deal is closed. Worse yet is the assumption that a customer is no longer of value after they sign the contract and become a client. Ironically enough, the closed deal is just the beginning of a tremendously lucrative opportunity for the account representative who is able identify its massive potential and act on it strategically. Here’s why:

  1. Customers are often a source of repeat business. If your customer is hooked on your product or service, it’s likely they will renew their contract or use your business at another time. Customer loyalty is a huge advantage that will ensure more deals in the future as long as the service and performance is satisfactory. In fact, there are very few successful companies that have only one-time customers, so take advantage of the opportunity to retain customers through great service, a great product experience, and the presentation of new products or services that your customers would want to purchase. 
  2. The accounts of happy customers tend to grow over time. During the lifetime of a typical customer relationship, there are consistent opportunities for upselling. Whether you are adding new services to their accounts, offering additional features to compliment or facilitate their experience with your business, or selling new products they would benefit from using, your current customers are your easiest sell. This is because, as your customer, they have already established trust in you and see the value in being your customer. Upselling also increases their level of commitment to your business and makes it more difficult for them to switch to another company or provider. 
  3. Customer referrals are sales gold. Nothing is better than a hot lead, and current customers are the best source for those opportunities. If your customers are happy with their experience, they won’t hesitate to refer new business to you because most customers like to share their joy with friends/family/business partners. Creating a referral program or some kind of incentive can even be a catalyst to make your customers work for you as your own personal “sales team”. Moreover, the referrals you get will listen more carefully to your sales presentation knowing that their peer is already a happy client of yours.

The one caveat I will mention here is that growth doesn’t always happen on its own. Often you will need to seek out these opportunities by contacting your current clients and asking (again) for their business. Ask your customers to renew, to upgrade, and to refer. Don’t neglect your customers after you sell them; treat current clients just as well as, if not better than, your prospects and continue to check in and offer great customer service. Identifying and acting on these opportunities will ensure that the selling doesn’t end just because the deal is closed.

The Most Effective Sales Strategy: “What’s in it for me?”

When I consult with my clients who struggle with marketing or sales initiatives, I always start out the session asking: “what’s in it for me”? In other words, if I am a potential customer you are trying to attract with your marketing campaigns, or you are trying to sell your products or services to, what is the benefit I will get from buying from you? Always frame your value proposition as if the customers were asking you “what’s in it for me?”

Many people at this point will start rattling off all of their differentiating factors, nifty product points, or explain that they have the best customer service in the industry. This is all well and good, but it is far from relevant unless they can identify what that means to the customer. Don’t focus on the features you offer, or why you’re different from the rest; all of that information is important, and you can dive into that as needed, but what’s most important, and what you should focus your efforts on, is how you will directly affect the customers’ pain points and make their job, life, or business situation better.

Finding a pain point can be tough, and often you will need to dig deep. You could conduct market research in the form of surveys, interviews, and/or focus groups, you could ask current clients how your product or service best helps them individually, but the easiest way is to simply ask your prospect. After all, every customer faces different challenges, and what troubles some may not trouble others. Additionally, people genuinely appreciate when businesses care about their individual struggles. So get to know the prospect you’re selling to, and don’t feel uncomfortable asking them what they are looking for from your product or service. People love to talk about themselves and their business, and it makes them feel more connected to you as a salesperson or company.

Once you know what your prospective customer is really struggling with you can focus the sales efforts on their individual situation. Show the prospective customer that you relate to them and understand their unique problems (even if they aren’t so unique). Make them feel understood and special. Once you have gotten an understanding of the pain point and have communicated to the customer that you know how their struggles are affecting them, you can present your value proposition in a “what’s in it for me?” perspective. By explaining to your customer what they will gain by working with you or using your service, you will illicit a much more interested and positive response. Be sure to frame your sales pitch around how your offering can help their particular situation, make their life easier, save them time or money, etc.

Don’t make your sales presentation too feature rich; keep it simple and always address and stress how your prospect will benefit by being your customer. Don’t leave them wondering “what’s in it for me?”

The Truth About Effective Employee Motivation

Employee motivation is one of the toughest challenges that companies of any size face, and employers often take drastic measures to ensure they are rewarding successes of their employees in hopes of increasing overall motivation of their teams. However, what most employers don’t know is that if they changed they way they motivate their staff they can save the company time, money, resources, and increase overall productivity and morale.

Most companies use bonuses and monetary incentives to reward and motivate. These tactics are good, and it’s important to support employees financially, but financial rewards are not always necessary and can often backfire. I’m not talking about commission in a sales job- that is critical, but offering a cash incentive as a “thank you” or encouragement for high performance isn’t the most effective way to motivate. Why not? Because the motivation the employer is offering is extrinsic, meaning it is coming from an outside source and the behavior is being rewarded externally. Psychologically, this can cause the behaviors that are being rewarded seem more like a “job” since money is being exchanged as a result, and the employee may take less enjoyment in the activities as a result and may not work as hard in the future.

Along that note, other incentives can be just as effective as a cash bonus, such as a free lunch, gifts, a plaque, etc. These are often much more cost effective than bonuses, and offer the same extrinsic benefits of recognizing the efforts of the employee, and giving a tangible reward in exchange.

Even more effective is skipping the tangible reward, and instead giving recognition and appreciation to the employee, perhaps publicly. Placing a photo of the employee on an “Employee of the Month” wall, doing a shout-out on a company email or newsletter, and other similar acts of recognition make the reward about the person who did something wonderful, not about the gift or incentive they receive. This little thing called “bragging rights” can go a long way, and become an intrinsic form of motivation, because employees now want to achieve great results for their own personal pleasure and satisfaction.

The most effective way to motivate employees is to align them with the company’s vision and mission. By making the employees understand the goals of the company, and why the company has those goals, they will want to accomplish great things because they see the impact their work has in the overall plan. When employees are “drinking the kool-aid”, they are more likely to work harder and feel more gratified as a result of their efforts.

I encourage employers to reevaluate the methods they use to motivate their team and ensure their employees share the same vision for the growth and future of the company. Additionally, offering appreciation and recognition can cause amazing results internally for the employee, which will benefit the company in response. Financial incentives are great, but use them sparingly and wisely, focusing more on the genuine appreciation you are showing to the employee; make the reward about their efforts and the role it played in the overarching goals of the company instead of simply the incentive the employee is receiving.

 

 

It’s OK to Say NO

Time Face

Time is our most valuable resource, so it’s important that, just as we manage our finances, we know how to most effectively manage our time. We all have goals, and often we need to invest time (like we invest money) to achieve them. However, it’s important to recognize which activities are worthy of your time, and which are going to be drains on your day and/or your attitude. I understand that this may upset some people, but it’s ok to say “no” to people or activities that aren’t going to benefit your own interests.

Sometimes committing yourself to a conversation or activity that isn’t worthwhile to you can make you feel stuck since you’re not gaining anything from the interaction. Also- people can often tell when you’re not interested in being there. Even though you think you’re doing someone a service by taking the meeting, attending the event, or spending time doing something that you’re not interested in, your presence may come off rushed and ambivalent.

Additionally, that time could be better spent on things that will move you forward rather than being wasted on unproductive activities. Putting yourself in a position that isn’t worthwhile to you is only going to waste time, potentially cause resentment, and negatively affect the rest of your day. You have enough things in your life that cause anxiety, stress, discomfort, and displeasure, so why add more negativity by doing something you don’t want to do?

If it makes you feel good to say “yes”, then say “yes”, but it’s also okay to say “no”. Obviously it’s important to be a kind, helpful person, but you will become even more helpful and influential once you have focused on investing your time on growing toward your goals. Consider the old airplane safety adage: secure the oxygen mask on yourself first, then help others with their masks. Don’t feel selfish by turning down extra work that doesn’t directly help you along your path, because by designating that time to helping your own cause you can work toward being in a better position to make a larger impact down the road.

Understanding that your time is valuable, it’s okay to (nicely) say “no” to things that you don’t identify as a benefit to you or your ventures. This is something that can be difficult to do, and I certainly struggle with this on occasion because I want to be polite and helpful. The added stress, energy, sometimes gas expenses, and time lost is just not worth it. Learn to say no, and feel confident doing so.

 

 

To see more posts from Breanna Bremer, please view her article library here.