In the past nine years of helping over 2,000 agencies become more productive and profitable, only a fraction of the agency owners we spoke to were satisfied with their historical sales close rate.
In fact, according to data from HubSpot, the business sector averages a 27% sales close rate. This means that even an “average” closing ratio means you’re letting three out of every four leads walk right back out that door.
While there’s no point in being hard on yourself every time a lead doesn’t convert, it does pay dividends to find a way to improve your closing process so you can win more deals. In this article, we’re going to go over four strategies that can help you hit your sales goals a lot sooner.
Let’s get right into it!
Table of Contents
Before The Ask
It might come as a surprise, but a big part of your closing ratio is actually determined by what happens before you ask for the sale. Here are a few things you should consider before moving towards a call-to-action.
Problems and Pain Points
First and foremost, do you have a comprehensive understanding of the problems that your prospect is facing? A tight grasp of the main pain points a potential customer is facing could make or break the closing process.
After all, what better way to get past any potential objections than by highlighting their pain points and the consequences that will follow if they leave their problem unsolved. This is especially important since some clients are more likely to react to consequences than benefits.
Once you ask for the sale, it’s often difficult if not impossible to backpedal and try to get more information out of your prospect. That’s why you should have 99% of what you need to know before drawing your CTA.
Speaking of information, it’s just as important that your prospect has enough data to give you a definitive answer. The last thing you want them to ask is additional information after the call since you have no guarantee that you’ll be able to get them on a second meeting.
In fact, there are many cases where “it’s too expensive” actually means “I don’t have information to make a major financial decision” rather than “I can’t afford it.” This is why it’s doubly important to lay all the cards on the table if your agency sells a high-ticket offer.
By the time prospects hear your pitch, they should already know how much the service costs, how long it will take to implement, and what impact it will have on their business. It’s the same reason lawyers present all the evidence before making their closing argument.
Finally, can the prospect even afford what you’re trying to sell them? Offering up enough information for them to make an educated buying decision is great but you have to think about the financial side of the deal as well.
If you realize that their company is in an earlier stage than expected or their revenue is lower than you had hoped, there’s nothing wrong with “switching stances” so to speak. Instead of pitching your main offer, you could down-sell them to a cheaper entry-level product or service.
This ensures you’ll be able to convert the lead into your customer pool and build an existing business relationship — making them more likely to come back for your high-ticket offer once they’re in a position to afford it.
In the event that your low-ticket offer is still too pricey with them, at least drive the prospect towards one of your lead magnets. This could be an eBook, whitepaper, or newsletter. It doesn’t really matter which one you go for as long as you’re able to build an audience through it.
It’s no secret that getting people to like you will exponentially increase the odds of closing a deal. Think about it, would you be more likely to lend $5 to a close friend or a random stranger sitting next to you on the subway?
If rapport plays a role in who people will give their spare change to, you can imagine how much more important it becomes when pitching five or six-figure offers. Let’s look at three ways that you can build a rapport with prospects and get an early advantage for the closing process.
While there’s something to be said about using meeting time efficiently and focusing on the key details as soon as possible, adding a hint of small talk into the mix can change the course of your sales calls too.
Something as simple as asking how their day went and sharing a short tidbit about what you were doing before the call can make the call feel more human. In contrast, getting down to business the minute they join the call could make it seem like you’re only after their wallets.
There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to how much small talk is too much. It will come down to how long the call is going to be, whether or not the prospect seems to be in a rush, and a bit of trial-and-error for good measure.
When most people hear the phrase mirroring, they often think about body language. While nonverbal cues certainly do play a role, they only make up a fifth of the total mirroring process. Mirroring, also called isopraxism, should include:
- Speech patterns
- Body language
- Tone of voice
In fact, Chris Voss — former FBI hostage negotiator and author of Never Split the Difference — often persuaded criminals to do the impossible without getting the opportunity to mirror their body language.
Whether you’re talking to a hostage takers behind a locked door, a bank robber over the phone, or your agency’s next big client, mirroring the other person will make you appear more familiar and therefore trustworthy.
This could consist of speaking at the same speed as them, bringing the pitch of your voice closer to theirs, or using the same words that they use. If you’re trying to close a deal in person then you should absolutely pay attention to matching their posture and body language as well.
Really, just listen.
People think of listening to prospects as a passive approach to closing deals. In reality, diverting your focus exclusively to what a lead is saying is the most active thing that you could be doing in the sales process.
In addition to helping you find out key information that you would’ve otherwise missed, it will also make the potential client feel like you value what they have to say and that will make it much easier to build a rapport with them.
While many sources cite the 80/20 rule (listening 80% of the time), by Chris Orlob of Sales Hacker wanted to see whether or not that really checked out. After using the power of AI to analyze over 25,000 B2B sales conversations, they found that the ideal ratio was 43:57.
That doesn’t mean that letting your prospect speak 57% of the time is a hard-and-fast rule, nor is it a magic bullet. All the data tells us is that we should remind ourselves to spend more time listening and less time talking if we really want to see our sales close rate rise.
Use The Right Questions
If you sense that the prospect is ready to buy, asking the right questions can be your non-stop flight to closing the deal. These “closing questions” can get your prospect to commit right then and there before they think of other objections after the call ends.
Try asking something akin to “I feel like we’re a great fit so I’d love it if you could tell me the steps I can take to help you move forward with this deal.” This will either get them to convert immediately or prompt them to bring up any remaining objections they might have.
If they say that they’ll need more time to answer what is, quite frankly, a straightforward question then at least you’ll know that this won’t be a prospect you can close quickly. You can then use that knowledge to shift your focus to other leads or move on from that prospect altogether.
In the same way, you can use closing questions to pass the ball back to customers when they ask you about delivery timelines. “How soon will you be able to deliver the service?” could be met by asking them how soon they need the service.
Or, better yet, how soon they need the result.
A web designer could ask “how soon do you want to start driving leads to your business?” instead of “when do you want me to create the website?” A Shopify consultant could ask “how soon do you want to start generating revenue?” instead of “when do you want to launch the store?”
Regardless of which industry your prospect is in, giving them some control over the finer details with closing questions can make a world of difference. To be clear, this doesn’t mean you have to agree with unrealistic expectations or deadlines, but at least let the client play a role in the closing process.
Don’t Hunt Unicorns
While there’s nothing wrong with SaaS companies going after enterprise customers or agencies trying to close higher-value clients, it’s important to stay realistic about which leads are worth pursuing.
There are far too many agencies that struggle with a low sales close rate because their sales team gets a bit too ambitious with who they’re targeting. No matter how big the potential payoff is, you have to watch out for red flags and see if the prospect is really a fit.
A few red flags include:
- Refusing to share information with you
- Only being interested in the price of the service rather than the details or benefits
- Constantly being late to meetings or regular no-show incidents
- Not providing feedback or making decisions in a timely manner
- Unwilling to establish a start date or timeline for the project
If one or more of these red flags are present, there’s a chance you could be chasing a prospect you’ll never close. At the end of the day, there’s no shame in setting realistic sales targets. In fact, most companies would get better results if they go fishing instead of unicorn hunting.
As you can see, raising the sales close rate of your agency doesn’t have to center around aggressive pitches or tactics. It’s all about understanding your customer, helping your customer understand the product or service, and going into every call with a problem-solving mindset.
Of course, sales is only one half of the story. If you want your agency processes to be more efficient and set your team up for success, don’t hesitate to book a call with us so we can streamline your workflows in a matter of weeks!