Today’s B2B sales cycle is longer than ever before. In some cases, that’s intentional. Consumers have access to an enormous amount of information at their fingertips, and they trust companies less than they used to.
They know the cost of a bad purchase and want to avoid that risk. Because of this, it’s unlikely that you’re going to land a sale right away.
Instead, you need to take the process slow and try to get any commitment that you can.
In fact, there’s scientific evidence that suggests getting your foot in the door is an effective technique to get people to agree to just about anything.
A group of volunteers petitioned homeowners to place a large sign on their lawn which would encourage motorists to drive carefully. More than 80 percent of residents declined. Another group of homeowners was asked to place a smaller, three-inch sign with a similar message, which was met with more enthusiasm.
Several weeks later, more than 75 percent of these homeowners agreed to place the original larger sign on their lawn.
Clearly, there’s value to taking the sales process one step at a time and aiming for smaller commitments instead of going for broke every time. Here are five commitments you should consider asking for when you can’t land the sale immediately:
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1. Follow-Up Meeting
It is difficult to call a prospect and ask them directly for a sale. Your first conversation should be devoted entirely to gathering information about their company, processes, and problems. As a dedicated salesperson, you can’t simply put together a solution that works for them on the fly. You need to take the time to sit down, review the information you gathered, and put something unique together.
Use this as an opportunity to schedule a follow-up meeting with your prospects once you’ve gathered enough information. After the second meeting, you should have built up enough trust to continue further down the process.
2. Product Demo
Demos are a powerful selling tool that you should use as often as possible. You’ll be able to dive deep into your product, showing exactly how it works and how it can benefit your audience. You can field questions and bring in multiple contacts from both organizations. It’s an easy way to push somebody further along the sales cycle.
From a prospect’s point of view, a product demo isn’t a huge commitment. It’s simply half an hour or an hour of their time spent looking into a potential solution. It’s also a welcome relief from their everyday responsibilities when they can sit back and learn something new.
3. Reviewing a Quote
One of the biggest mistakes a nervous salesperson makes is being happy when a client asks them to just send a quote. It’s easy for your leads to brush you off, ask for a quote, and then ignore it. Several weeks later, you’ll find out that they decided to go with another vendor.
To avoid this pitfall, you don’t want to simply send a quote. Offer to put a quote together for them, which you can review together on another day. Send them the quote shortly before the meeting begins so they can review it, and then go over any questions or concerns that they might have. This gives you more of a foot in the door than simply emailing them a PDF file and shows that you truly care about providing exceptional service.
4. Newsletter Subscription
Sometimes a prospect isn’t in the position to make a purchase, but they’re still a good fit overall. Do not simply let them go and agree to reach out again in several months to see if their needs have changed get them to sign-up for your newsletter. This tiny little commitment keeps your company top of mind and is a simple way to get a tough customer to say "yes" for the first time.
5. Sending Additional Information
If you can’t get much traction getting a prospect to agree to commit, you can at least take the opportunity build some trust and prove that you live up to your word. Tell them that you’re going to send them some basic information immediately after your initial conversation, and something more in-depth a couple days later. Following up exactly when you said you would might be enough to set you apart from other sales reps that let the small things slip their mind.
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Longer sales cycles are tricky to navigate but they provide plenty of opportunity for smaller victories. By working through the process one step at a time and leveraging the smaller commitments mentioned above, you’ll be able to build trust and close more sales.