How to Remove Risk from our Sales Engagements

As salespeople, how can we ensure we are keeping a healthy pipeline? Selecting the right opportunities top of the funnel to ensure we are closing at the other end of the funnel.

Buyers are becoming more risk averse; budgets are tighter, and they are afraid if they make the wrong call their heads are on the chopping block.

How can we de-risk the situation?

Make it easy for them to buy and ensure they feel confident in their decision. We’ve all had that pit in our stomach of buyer’s remorse, let’s avoid this!

What are 3 ways we can de-risk the sales experience for our prospective clients? Refuse, Refer, Renew

1) Refuse: We must be very selfish with our time, consider it currency. If we are talking with everyone, we run the risk of spending too much time with the wrong people.

How can we disqualify our prospects?Are they in the industry we have had success with? are they at the right stage to experience the problems you solve for? What have they already tried to fix their problem? How motivated are they to make a decision?

This is where transparency wins, if you see misalignment, let them know immediately. Perhaps they are too early, their team is too small, not enough ARR, whatever the case. This lets them know you are not for everyone. Inviting them to sell you on why you should work with them, not the other way around.

I see too many reps spending time on deals that were never going to close in the first place. Remove “happy ears”, look at your qualification criteria, there are exceptions. You may have someone in a new vertical where everything else lines up and you are curious to take the call. Go for it. Recommendation to ask pointed questions, have clarity and lead with radical candour. After that call, you should know whether a second call is required.

2) Referral

  1. Create a spreadsheet or list from LinkedIn of your satisfied customers. Look at your ideal customer list. Identify contacts within your ideal accounts you are not connected to but would like to be.
  2. Look at the mutual connections between you and your ideal prospect.
  3. Send a message to your mutual contact asking if they would feel comfortable referring you to their connection in company X.

De-risk it for them, let them know you will write the email and send it to them for them to forward along accordingly. We don’t want to add additional work for them. Also, allowing them to read your draft email is safe for them, it allows them to filter the message as their name is on it.

Why this works, at the very least if your connection is close enough to your potential client, they feel compelled to respond, take a call with you, and entertain your email. It allows you to enter their sphere. If the timing is off, you could add them to your email list, connect with them on LinkedIn, engage with their content, forward them relevant articles with your POV, and write-ups based on what they are trying to achieve. The relationship door has been opened by a vetted contact. Be patient and play the long game.

3) Renewal: If we are selling a SaaS product, our initial sale is important, we also need to ensure we are adding enough value that the chance of renewal is high.

Few things we want to ensure: our product/service is embedded in their organization. How can we make it difficult for them to displace our product?

Is it a standalone? Is it on their network? Do you manage their CQI? Whatever the case, the more knitted together you are the tougher it is to break away. Now, let me be clear, I am not saying lock them in and offer mediocre service, I am saying layer in your offerings, so they are getting deeper and deeper into partnership, and you almost become one entity.

Also, balance this with the experience you provide for them. When they are dealing with you, how quick is your site to load? What is your response time? What are you like to deal with? Do you foresee problems and make them aware of what is coming? help them see around the corner? All this contributes to the experience and drives loyalty, is it enough to return for another year?

Before the end of the year, play around with the 3 R's and see where in your business you can refuse to give time to prospects you cannot help. Where you can ask for a referral, and leverage a warm lead. Finally, how you can increase your chance of renewal at the end of the term through value creation.

Let us know which one you tried first and the impact it had on your pipeline, cycle time and /or conversation rates.

About Karen Kelly

For 20 years Karen has been specializing in the art and science of sales and communication her passion and experience are helping technical sales professionals become more confident and to disrupt with value.

Her dedication to developing and delivering customized sales training programs provide her audience practical, relevant tools  that can be used immediately to break down the barriers in a competitive landscape and separate themselves from the noise.

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