Are you feeling the heat in this economic climate? You're not alone. We sat down with the best sales executives in the HubSpot ecosystem to learn how they're managing to stay afloat amidst the chaos. Their insights and best practices are compiled and ready for you to take action. Get ready to learn both tried-and-true methods and some surprising contrarian approaches to overcome the toughest economic headwinds.
These tried-and-true methods have been proven time and time again to help sales teams improve their performance and exceed goals.
Show the Customer Empathy: How to Connect
One of the well-established sales tactics that continues to be highly influential today is showing empathy. Customers are looking for more than just a product or service – they want to work with experts who understand their concerns and are ready to take action. Here are some tips from our panelists:
- Practice active listening and ask open-ended questions to understand the buyer's challenges and goals.
- Share relevant stories of how your product or service has helped customers with similar challenges.
- Acknowledge the buyer's concerns and be transparent about potential risks and limitations of your offering.
Give Customers More Information Sooner
To accelerate the decision-making process and empower customers to make informed choices, equip them with as much information as possible from the get-go. Here are some effective methods to enable the sales team to provide customers with more information earlier in the process:
- Develop a buyer-centric website that includes dynamic content tailored to the visitor's intent and browsing history.
- Use chatbots or automated email campaigns to deliver targeted information based on their interests and needs.
- Send relevant content (e.g. white papers, case studies, testimonials) to buyers early in the sales process.
Involve the Buyer’s Committee Earlier
To maximize efficiency and minimize potential obstacles, involve essential stakeholders early in the sales process, particularly when decisions need to be made quikcly. This approach guarantees that all key decision-makers are aligned and enables a smoother process as time goes on.
- Identify the key decision-makers and influencers within the buyer's committee and reach out to them early on.
- Develop joint evaluation plans that outline the roles and responsibilities of each member of the committee.
- Use push rates and deal velocity reports to identify bottlenecks in the process and make adjustments accordingly.
Build Trust Sooner: Deliver on the Value Proposition
Trust continues to be king. Customers are more likely to choose a consultant they can trust to understand their needs and deliver solutions that work. By sharing examples of prior successful projects, case studies, and testimonials, reps can demonstrate their expertise and build credibility with potential buyers. Highlighting past successes helps to establish trust and adds weight to the value proposition.
- Offer a proof-of-concept or pilot program that allows the customer to test your offering before making a purchase.
- Provide a detailed roadmap or implementation plan that shows the customer how your offering will solve their specific challenges.
- Offer a personalized onboarding experience that helps the customer get the most out of your offering.
Get Ruthless About Pipeline Hygiene
It's easy to get attached to every lead in the pipeline, but sometimes, you have to know when to let go: a cluttered CRM can lead to wasted resources and missed KPIs. By weeding out deals that are unlikely to close, reps can devote their attention to those that are most likely to convert. This shift in focus can lead to increased productivity and ultimately more revenue. Quality over quantity should be your guiding principle when it comes to your deals.
- Conduct regular pipeline reviews to ensure that all leads and deals are properly qualified and have a realistic chance of closing.
- Re-evaluate sales forecasting methods to ensure they are based on reliable data and accurately predict sales performance.
- Review lead scoring and qualification criteria to ensure that leads are properly vetted before entering the pipeline.
- Use sales analytics tools in HubSpot Sales Hub to identify areas of the pipeline that require improvement or optimization. For example, deal velocity reports to gain insights into the sales team's performance and identify potential issues early on.
While standard sales best practices can be effective, our pros also shared some contrarian tactics that have led to improved goal attainment and team incentive.
Get to No Faster: Build in Exit Criteria in Sales Stages
As mentioned above, saying "no" can actually help teams achieve their goals more quickly. To take pipeline hygiene a step further, here is a less common tactic: building in exit criteria in each sales stage to reach a "no" answer faster. While it may seem counterintuitive, disqualifying deals early on that are unlikely to close can boost deal velocity.
- Identify criteria for disqualification for when a deal is unlikely to close, such as budget constraints or lack of decision-making power within the organization.
- Be proactive in disqualifying deals that meet these criteria, rather than holding out hope that they will come through.
- Focus on opportunities that are more likely to generate revenue and build long-term relationships.
Sell a Downgrade Path: Be Flexible Now to Upsell Later
Pricing is always a pivotal point of market positioning. However, selling at a lower tier to the right customers can be a stronger strategy, particularly in the early stages of a sales cycle. By selling at a lower price point, try-before-you-buy options, or shorter contract lengths, reps can establish trust while increasing the likelihood of upselling or cross-selling later on — all in the sales pitch.
- Center on providing value and demonstrating your expertise, rather than pushing for a quick sale
- Use the lower-priced or introductory product as a stepping stone to upsell or cross-sell higher-priced items later on
- Combine this with other tactics, such as personalized consultations or assessments, to build trust and demonstrate value.
Update the Buyers Journey: Adjust to Keep Pace
Our team of top executives stresses the importance of regularly updating the buyer's journey to keep pace with changing market dynamics and customer preferences. Staying on top of these shifts ensures that your framework remains effective; it also means sales teams can adjust their approach and messaging to align with these changes. So, keep your finger on the pulse to stay ahead in the game.
- Conduct regular surveys or interviews for customer feedback on areas of the journey that require improvement or optimization.
- Create buyer personas that accurately reflect the current buyer landscape, and collaborate with marketing teams to ensure that messaging is consistent across all touchpoints.
- Use data to inform your strategy, including metrics such as lead conversion rates and customer lifetime value.
Be More Critical of Whom You’re Taking on as a Client
One unexpected insight to consider: Don't be too aggressive when chasing new clients! Taking on any potential business may seem like the right move, but it can actually hurt your efforts in the long run. By avoiding the temptation and being more selective and focusing on deals that you can successfully service and implement, you'll improve the quality of your pipeline and achieve better outcomes.
- Develop a set of criteria for identifying ideal clients (ICPs) based on factors such as company size, industry, and budget.
- Conduct thorough research on potential clients to ensure that they are a good fit for your product or service.
- Be willing to walk away from deals that do not align with your company's values or business goals.
Consider Alternative Communication Channels
Texting can be a highly effective communication tool, particularly when trying to reach busy or on-the-go C-suite stakeholders. Text messages are often read more quickly than emails and can help keep the conversation moving forward.
- Obtain consent from buyers before sending text messages to ensure compliance with regulations.
- Use texts to follow up with customers, send reminders, or provide additional information.
- Avoid using text to discuss complex or sensitive topics, as they may be better suited for email or phone conversations.
Reduce Discounting: Tighten Up Approval Process
Discounting can be a slippery slope, as it can undermine perceived value and eat into profit margins. One way to avoid over-reliance on discounts in your business model is to tighten up the approvals process, making it more difficult for reps to offer discounts without proper authorization. To execute this tactic effectively, consider the following:
- Establish clear guidelines for discounts, including specific circumstances in which discounts may be offered.
- Ensure that all discount requests are reviewed and approved by a manager or higher-level decision-maker.
- Use deal desk teams or other approval workflows to ensure that all discounts are properly authorized and documented.
- Continuously monitor and analyze discounting behavior to identify areas where the approvals process may need to be tightened up.
It's no secret that the selling game has gotten tougher in recent years, with buyers more cautious than ever and sales cycles stretching out like a Sunday afternoon nap.
But don't worry, we've got you covered. Our new guide for sales leaders has all the actionable insights you need to address these challenges head-on. You'll learn how to lead with and coach for empathy, manage new stakeholders, win over the CFO, create joint evaluation plans, track the right KPIs, maintain pipeline hygiene, and overcome team performance issues.
So grab a cup of coffee, kick back, and dive into the Sales Leader's Guide to Selling in 2023. Your sales team will thank you for it!
Sr Creative Strategist specializing in B2B brand creation, sales enablement, and SaaS demand generation. With 8 years of experience, she excels in driving ROI and revenue-driven KPIs through collaborative innovation.