Solution Selling: Overcome objections, sell strategically and follow-up effectively

In the fourth part of this series, we look at what to do after sending a sales proposal: how you overcome objections, sell more strategically, and crucially, follow-up to get the results you want.

In sales, following-up with prospects is crucial.

Far too few salespeople follow-up, and do so well enough that they close deals. Hence why so many, even before the global pandemic and accompanying recession, hit sales targets.

Why do you need to follow-up?

When an inbound lead comes in, you’ve got to be quick at following-up. Say it lands via an online form. What do you do next?

If your answer is, contact them back, even phoning them, then you’ve done the right thing. Unfortunately, in far too many cases, no one contacts them back.

A study in the Harvard Business Review found that salespeople that contacted inbound leads within an hour were 7x more likely to engage with a decision making. Speaking with a decision maker makes it far more likely you are going to get a positive outcome from sales conversations. This is based on a study of over 2,200 U.S. companies, of every size.

Another study, this time by Drift, found that only 7% of companies respond to online form submissions (within working hours) in the first 5 minutes. Whereas, over 50% don’t respond within 5 working days.

Once you’ve had a sales conversation or online demo, do you follow-up enough?

That’s the other part of the challenge, and yet another reason why salespeople don’t hit targets. Getting a conversation with a decision maker or budget holder can be challenging enough.

Once you’ve had that conversation, following-up is an essential part of how you secure the sale. Again, not enough salespeople actually do this.

One of the most well-known statistics around this is that 48% of salespeople never make an attempt to follow-up. Whereas, the impact of actually following-up is massive: around 80% of closed won deals required at least 5 or more emails or calls, according to recent research.

How to overcome objections?

Objections are something that every salesperson encounters.

Overcoming them isn’t always easy. But there are ways, and the more effectively you’ve listened and aligned a solution around the needs of a prospect, the less likely you are to encounter objections, and more easily they can be overcome.

Here are a few of the most common and what you can do about them:

  • Budget. Either down-sell strategically, as outlined below; whenever you need. But don’t do that too often, otherwise you’ll find profits decreasing and margin slipping away. A better way is to sell them on the value of the product or service, encouraging them to keep more closely within your pricing structure.
  • Solve the problem. More effectively sell them on the benefits and how this is the best solution for their needs. Draw upon the conversations you’ve had so far, and use these to outline why this will solve the prospects pain points.
  • Timeliness. Sell them on the benefits of moving forward sooner rather than later. Describe the advantages of solving this problem soon, and the value-driven benefits from the ongoing ROI.
  • Value. Are they struggling to see the value? In which case, you need to up-sell them and give them reassurance on features, benefits and the ROI they can expect.

Now let’s look at how you can down-sell strategically.

How to sell strategically?

Something you might need to do, when the economy is struggling, is to sell strategically. That means, down-selling in order to save deals.

Down-selling is the opposite of up-selling. When up-selling, you encourage a client to spend more.

Down-selling, on the other hand, is strategically securing a sale only when a prospect is convinced to spend less rather than not spend anything. In these challenging economic circumstances, a strategic down-selling approach is the most effective way to salvage a deal that could disappear. It’s something that should be in every salespersons toolkit.

Down-selling strategically involves looking at every deal and considering the following factors:

  • Recommend alternative (cheaper) products and services. You can’t offer the same amount of work for a lot less money, but you can reduce the price providing you are delivering more in-line with what they can afford.
  • Suggest a new payment structure. One of the most effective ways is to offer discounts but aim to get more cash in up-front
  • Look for aligned opportunities. Are there other ways you can work together?

Next, let’s look at the best ways to follow-up with sales leads you’ve already had calls/demos with and given them proposals.

How to follow-up effectively?

  • Friendly reminders. Keep on their radar. Send them emails or messages (on other platforms, if you use a range of channels) every few weeks, reducing to every month or so until you either get an answer or need to give up.
  • Don’t give up easily. Five to ten isn’t too many. Continuing to keep on their radar for at least 3 months is not a problem, unless they say it’s a problem. Until that point, stay persistent. It could make all the difference between winning a new client, and them going elsewhere.
  • Encourage timely uptake. Whether through a special offer, or some kind of situational-based pressure, such as something the prospect is doing, or planning on, make it better for them to go ahead sooner rather than later.
  • Talk about something else (other than the deal). Contingent on finding out a little about a prospect when talking to them. In ongoing messages, you could use anything from a shared love for the same sports team, to families, or a mutual enjoyment for beer, wine, books, or tattoos (for example) to build more of a rapport. Leverage these conversations to drive the sale forward.
  • See if there are other ways to help them, and for them to help you, such as mutual introductions, referrals, and even pointing them in the right direction for funding or support.

And that concludes our four-part CrankWheel series on Solution Selling. We hope you’ve found this helpful, and we will be publishing more like this in 2021.

Want to review the previous articles in this series:

  1. What solution selling is, and when should you use it?
  2. How to assess what prospects need
  3. How to create amazing presentations that get results

CrankWheel: Cut your sales cycle in half with instant screen-sharing. Go from two or more sales calls to one: Become a one call close sales team.