THE LOST ART OF CLOSING - Punch!

THE LOST ART OF CLOSING

going vegan...

Welcome to this week’s recipe for sales development success. In my latest video, I discuss a typical SDR’s challenges when it comes to closing a call; likening it to a lost art of hibachi cooking. Check it out here if you haven’t done so already.

Closing is such an important skill, not only for a successful salesperson, but for anyone in business that’s trying to achieve a certain outcome off the back of a conversation. With this in mind, I thought it would be beneficial to continue the discussion, and teach you how to go in for the kill vegan-style!

open up the kitchen cupboard

The first challenge to overcome when closing is actually the art of opening up. Usually, when you close the kitchen cupboard you’ve decided what you’re having to eat… or you’ve just given up! What you’re really looking to do is open it up and invite the prospect to see what’s inside. Consider this: an SDR’s ‘close’ is only really the opening of a sales cycle. It’s the first of many conversations with your decision-maker.

The lost art of closing

The attitude that salespeople need to ABC (always be closing), and therefore need to close as quickly as possible, often leads salespeople to come across with an air of desperation; serving to be more pushy than consultative. I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase “you won’t close on 100% of the calls you don’t offer a close on”, and this is true to an extent, but it’s massively oversimplifying the situation. Instead, the phrase should be “always aim to close when appropriate, and once a level of interest is established.”

a double-edged knife

A typical sales call should be transparent. People are put off when they sense underhanded sales tactics, so embrace honesty. “Yes, this is a sales call and yes I think it’s going to be worth your time.” Use it to your advantage. It is a great confidence to take into a conversation, and won’t leave the prospect feeling like they’re being ‘tricked’ into a meeting.

That said, a transparent sales call is like a double edged kitchen knife; it can hinder you. The reason this ‘obviousness’ can hurt you in a conversation is because a prospect may be unwilling to provide certain pieces of information because they’re wise to the fact that as soon as they tell you, you’ll smell the delicious opportunity to close and jump right in for the kill.

The lost art of closing

For example – consider what information you need to know to ensure that a prospect is a good fit for your offering. Now imagine the prospect gives you that exact answer. What do you do? If the answer is close, close, close, then you’ve smelt the steak and fallen into the classic trap of ABC.

A simple tactic to avoid displaying this kind of carnivorous, and somewhat desperate, attack is by going vegan… stick with me here!

RESISTING TEMPTATION

Just like any hungry salesperson, you want to schedule a meeting and successfully close a call. But, as a vegan, you’ve learnt the art of resisting temptation. You’re not jumping in at the first opportunity to close. Plus, the smell of fresh meat doesn’t really do it for you.

The lost art of closing

Here’s my top tips for going vegan on your opportunities to close…

1. keep your mouth closed

Don’t say a word when you first smell a sale.

When a prospect provides the information that tells you they’re a good lead, it’s usually followed by a natural pause in the conversation. This is where a blood-thirsty salesperson would pounce. But a vegan knows how to resist the temptation and keeps their mouth closed. So keep your words brief and merely acknowledge the prospect with an “mhmm” or “sure” and let them pick up the responsibility for continuing the conversation. I’ve had many calls where the prospect actually suggests I schedule a meeting using this technique. And – for the times they do stay silent or ask “Are you still there? What do you think?” – read on.

2. choose a meat-free alternative

And by meat-free I mean motiveless.

Keep the spotlight focused on the prospect by asking a question that seemingly has no motive once they’ve offered up your cue to close. I like to do this by slowly repeating what they’ve said as if I’m thoughtfully considering their answer and then following up with something like: “how are you finding that?”, or “can you explain that a little further?”

This approach feels a lot more measured and leaves less margin for error. It feels like a sale. And remember – when they’ve finished talking – keep your mouth closed!

bon appetit!

So there you have it! That’s how to resist the temptation of a tasty opportunity, and close a sales call properly, like a vegan.

If you would like more tips on sales development success, then join me next time for Kitchen’s Tuesday Takeaways!

THREE TYPES OF ABM.
WHICH IS RIGHT FOR YOU?

One-to-one, one-to-few, one-to-many, programmatic, lite…it’s understandable why account-based marketing can seem daunting at first! But regardless of the ABM terminology being used, the basic principles are the same. Putting more resources into fewer target accounts who are more likely to convert, and provide a greater ROI. Which kind of ABM approach you should adopt depends on a number of factors. In this blog you’ll find out what the 3 types of ABM are, and which is right for your business.

the three types of ABM

So you’ve decided that adopting an ABM strategy is right for your business and that’s definitely a wise choice.

 

It’s understandable that you might have some concerns, running an ABM programme requires a shift of mind-set. It takes sizeable marketing ‘balls’ to shift resources from more typical marketing strategies to account-based marketing.

 

But that’s exactly what organisations are doing – the number of companies with an advanced ABM programme doubled from 2017 to 2018. And why?

 

Simple – because in a recent study, 97% of marketers reported a higher ROI from ABM than other marketing campaigns. Any successful ABM campaign is one that balances these three measures –

 

  • The likelihood of a given target account buying
  • The resources required to acquire them as a customer
  • The potential ROI to your business if they convert

The differences between the 3 types of ABM are driven by a need to align these factors, so let’s look at exactly what each approach involves and what factors should inform your ABM strategy.

One-to-one ABM

The original and probably best known of the 3 types of ABM, and the approach you’re most likely already familiar with.

One-to-one ABM is a strategic approach that treats your most valuable target accounts as their own individual markets. This means engaging with each of them in a specific and bespoke way.

 

A typical one-to-one campaign would involve targeting 5-10 key target accounts, the ones whose business would make your year or even change the direction of your company.

The resources required to engage with each account in a one-to-one ABM campaign are significant. With that in mind, it’s vital that you have deep insight into how likely the target account is to buy. Intent data is a great way to choose your target accounts based on whether they’re starting a buying journey.

 

By focusing on 10 accounts that you know are likely to buy, you can allocate more resources to engaging with each, knowing that they are more likely to convert and provide you with a great ROI.

You should consider one-to-one ABM as your strategy of choice if –

 

  • You can research the accounts in detail and gather detailed insights on how likely they are to buy
  • Your products and solutions are high-value and high-consideration
  • You’re selling into a mature or even saturated market
  • Your opportunity to close rate is high
  • You have clear and genuine points of differentiation from your competitors
  • Each account has a large number of key stakeholders from whom you need buy-in
  • You have the resources available to create content bespoke to each account
  • You have the available people resources to engage and nurture each target account

One-to-few ABM

One-to-few ABM, or ABM Lite as it’s also known, is a way of using the one-to-one ABM principles and applying them at scale to a greater number of target accounts.

For example, you might be dedicating 40 days per month to your top 5 accounts in a one-to-one strategy.

 

If you then wanted to reach out to your top 30 accounts, you most likely wouldn’t be able to scale up the same approach unless you have 240 days worth of resources available to do this. So what’s the answer?

 

Your best strategy would be to focus on small groups of target accounts, rather than individual accounts. These groups can then be treated as their own individual markets, in the same way as individual accounts were with one-to-one ABM.

 

The most common way to organise accounts into groups of 5-10 is by sub-sector. If you’re targeting the retail sector, your sub-sectors might be fashion, groceries, DIY and homeware.

You can then build specific content that will resonate with that sub-sector, identifying trends and solving their challenges.

Consider one-to-few ABM as your strategy of choice if –

 

  • You have a small addressable market of target accounts
  • You’re selling high-value, high consideration solutions or products
  • You have to get buy-in from 3-4 key stakeholders at each account
  • You’re able to gather insights into the challenges facing each target sector
  • You have the resources available to create sector specific content
  • You have the available people resources to engage and nurture each target account
  • Your product or solution has clear points of differentiation from its competition

One-to-many ABM

One-to-many ABM takes the ABM approach and scales it so the principles can be applied to a larger number of target accounts.

 

How many? That’s up to you, as there are no hard and fast rules as to where one-to-few ends and where one-to-many begins.

 

Similarly, you might be wondering where to draw the line between one-to-many ABM and just ‘marketing’? Well you’re not alone, there’s not a clear agreement even among leading practitioners of ABM.

 

It depends on the lifetime value of those accounts to your business, the greater the value, the fewer you should go for.

 

The average number of accounts for a one-to many campaign according to the ITSMA sits at around 100. However you may choose to go for more than this and dedicate fewer resources to each, or use an approach closer to the one-to-few model, and dedicate more resources to engaging with each account.

You should consider one-to-many ABM as a strategy if –

 

  • You want to increase brand awareness whilst also creating engagement at key accounts
  • Your solution is new to market, or the market need educating on its potential
  • There is one or a couple of key stakeholders at each target account
  • You have the available people resources to engage and nurture each target account
  • Your pipeline to close rate is low and could be improved
  • You don’t have access to information on which accounts are starting a buying journey
  • You need some accounts to convert more quickly in order to see ROI sooner

FIVE TIPS FOR ACCOUNT SELECTION

In these times of uncertainty, making the most out of your marketing budget is more important than ever. In Account-Based Marketing you reduce the number of accounts you target significantly and then increase the amount of resources you spend on them. This makes the actual account selection process very important because you can’t afford for an account that receives significant resource to just fall by the wayside. So with that in mind, here a five tips for best practice account selection.

Have you thought about targeting different industries?

People are getting scared and more cautious about taking meetings and calls. So, who is engaging?

 

Some industries are booming at the moment such as:

 

  • Video conferencing technology
  • Project management tools
  • E-learning
  • Ecommerce
  • Gaming

With an influx in demand, they might just be looking for your solution. But for industries heavily effected, you need to rethink your GTM strategy to be as humane as possible; if your solution is something that would be deemed essential to these businesses – keep helping. If it’s more of a luxury, consider targeting different industries where an influx of demand means they might be on the lookout for your solution.

Sales and Marketing, Name a Better Duo

We always talk about the importance of sales and marketing alignment, but it comes into play with regards to account selection as well. A common mistake is allowing one department to select all of the target accounts for a campaign.

 

If the sales team are solely responsible then you run the risk of them giving you all of the ‘problem’ accounts that they have yet to achieve any traction with. As Jamie Hardin, Senior Marketing Manager of ON24 explains “ABM should be viewed as augmenting the current strategy, not a ‘Hail Mary’ initiative on an inactive account.” Similarly, it would be foolish for marketing to be solely responsible without using the information that sales already have on the accounts that they’ve been engaging with.

This could be information on which accounts are reaching a contract renewal date, previous positive conversations with the clients, or even contacts that could have used your services in a previous role at another company.

By combining the information marketing has alongside insights from sales, your account selection can lay the foundation for a successful campaign.

Are you intent on this?

Utilising intent data is the best way to select accounts. This helps you understand which companies are in a buying window based on the websites they’re visiting and the content they’re consuming. However, platforms such as Bombora and Nexus aren’t at everyone’s disposal, which is why a combination of the above tactics gives the next best chance of selecting accounts that are most likely to convert.

 

Account selection is perhaps the biggest factor in the success of an Account-Based Marketing campaign. Good accounts, that fit your ICP and are showing intent are bound to be successful, whereas accounts that aren’t selected on insight and reasoning are likely to fail. There’s never a sure fire way to pick accounts that are destined to convert, but by following these tips you’ll have a solid foundation for your ABM programme.

Do it early!

One of the most consistent mistakes we come across with account selection is doing it too late in the ABM journey. After first defining your ideal customer profile or ICP (link to other blog) and selecting your sector, you should be looking to choose your accounts. Prioritising selection early on in the process will give you ample time to gather insight into them, allowing you to really personalise your message that will resonate with the target DMU.

Make Sure They Fit Your ICP

Using an ICP to frame your account selection ensures that your target accounts are most likely to be a good fit for your business. It also ensures that you don’t fall for those ‘dream’ accounts that you may have put on the list because you want the logo on your website, or you’ve always dreamed of working with. If they aren’t right for the programme, you shouldn’t be targeting them. It’s not about if you want them, as much as it’s about if they want you.

So, you’re thinking about adopting Account-Based Marketing…

Fantastic! But there are three different types of ABM; one-to-many, one-to-few, and one-to-one. So, which one is right for you? Luckily, we have a handy little calculator that will tell you exactly that.