So, you’ve started prospecting for potential clients, and you’ve avoided the #1 pricing mistake service-based businesses make when selling their services. You’ve finally begun submitting proposals to potential clients, and you feel confident it’s going to be a slam dunk – money in the bank.
You’re going to close deals like a rainmaker and get that brand new Tesla Model S, but…
One week goes by, and you hear nothing from your prospective clients.
Two weeks pass…
You’re confused now, “Why haven’t they called me back?”
Welcome to a day in the life of a freelancer, consultant, or agency owner.
How many times have you sent a proposal to a prospective client only for them to go dark and never hear from them again? It’s going to happen. Expect potential clients to flake on you.
One of the biggest irritations for freelancers, consultants, and service-based businesses is closing the deal with prospective clients.
Prospects go dark.
Prospects don’t return your calls.
Prospects disappear and are gone with the wind.
In today’s video and post, I’m going to share with you three practical tips on how to close the deal. You can use these tips to stop hoping for clients to sign your proposal, and instead implement a process to close sales like clockwork. This is my process for removing the uncertainty of whether a deal will close or not.
Expanded Video Transcription
Now it’s easy to submit a service proposal and count the check before it’s been cashed, but many times that proposal is only the beginning of the sales cycle. Before you start wondering about when you’re going to be able to cash all these checks, or Teslas on the moon make sure you understand the situation of your prospective client.
Stop thinking of submitted proposals as a certainty. Start thinking of them as the first step in your sales process. You’re not done yet. The best sales pitch and the perfect proposal won’t go very far without some kind of follow-up process to engage your prospect and overcome their objections.
Selling your services is 5 percent inspiration and 95 percent perspiration.
Here are my three secrets to closing the deal:
1) Build a relationship before the proposal
If a random person from the street asked you for your brand new iPhone X just to make a quick phone call, would you give that person your precious iPhone X? Probably not, right? Why? Because there’s no trust. You don’t know the person.
In a service-based business, the old sales truism rings true “all else equal, people want to do business with someone they like and trust.” They want friends over adversaries.
Before you submit a proposal, you want to build a relationship with your prospective client to the point they trust and like you. Ideally, your prospective client should want to work with you well into the future. The key to accomplishing this is by building a long-term relationship.
From my personal experience working on multi-million dollar deals with Fortune 500 companies, most of the deals I won were because of a previous relationship with the client. Whenever I was going up and running proposals against a bunch of other agencies, I would always win because of the strength of the relationship I had with my prospective client. I knew them. They knew me. And they knew I could deliver the goods.
Now you’re not going to have a relationship with every single person on your prospective client’s team, but you can definitely have one major point of contact that you’re going to work with.
2) The longer you wait to show pricing, the higher your chances of closing
When you give your prospective client your pricing upfront without showing any value first, they’re going to be turned off.
Every relationship has phases. In the beginning, you never ask for the thing you want.
Instead, you pay attention to the other person’s needs and wants. You help them as much as you possibly can to point them in the right direction. You offer free advice. You give value first.
After you provide value and have nurtured the potential client relationship, you’ll start to develop trust.
You’ll uncover more information on their needs, the scope of the project, and most importantly their budget. With the additional information you uncover as the relationship develops, you can finally reveal your prices as soon as your prospective client is invested in you.
Once a client has determined that you’re a potential solution, the price shouldn’t be the major factor of their choice.
Clients will find the budget if they see the value in the service you provide. This is why it’s important to convey the return on investment of your service with crystal clarity.
Provide examples of how your service impacts their business. Even if you’re the most expensive service provider, if you have a relationship with a prospective client and they know you can deliver the goods – you’ll get the deal in most cases.
So the earlier you reveal pricing, the more you turn off your prospective client.
You don’t want to do that.
You don’t want to turn off prospective clients. You want to give them the indication that you are the best provider out there. You want to build the relationship. You want to prove you are the best solution for their needs.
3) Even the best prospects will go dark – figure it out.
Here’s what the sales cycle for a service-based business tends to look like:
- You book an appointment with your prospect and have a great meeting.
- You nurture the relationship.
- You provide value upfront and haven’t revealed your pricing yet.
- You submit your proposal.
- You are asked buying questions from the client:
- “When are you going to start?”
- “Who’s on the team?”
- Client disappears off of the face of the earth, never to be heard from again.
From someone who’s been on the receiving end of many proposal submissions, I can tell you that I quickly forget proposals when the provider doesn’t follow up with me.
Like all business owners I have a full schedule, and I imagine your world is the same.
Why should your sales process be any different? Once the proposal goes in front of a potential client, it’s up to you to have a process to get them to sign the contract. You need to develop a follow-up process to get your prospective clients to start working with you.
That’s because it’s not just your prospective client who gets to make the decision. There’s a lot of decision makers out there. Clients need to do many things to sign a contract: due diligence, vendor management, legal, budget approval, etc.
A rule of thumb is that the bigger the contract, the more work needs to happen and the more red tape you need to cut through to close the deal. Don’t count the agreement until the prospect has signed on the dotted line.
Make sure you invest in technology to help you follow up with your prospective clients in a consistent and timely manner.
Implement a CRM system that lets you know every week what you need to do to follow-up. Have a lead nurturing system, too.
It can be as simple as a general newsletter that you send out to all your potential clients letting them know what you’re doing so you’re always top of mind. You can’t just go dark when they go dark.
You need to stay in front of your prospects, if you want them to become customers.
You don’t want to be pushy. You don’t want to overdo it, but you need to stay in front of your prospective clients to make sure that they’re still thinking about you. That they’re still finding value and that you’ve adequately relayed what your value is going to be. Tell prospective clients the return on investment from your services.
Follow-up. Follow-up. Follow-up.
- Secret number one is to develop a relationship with your prospective client well before you ever put a proposal in front of them.
- Secret number two is wait to give your pricing because the longer you wait to give your pricing the better the results are going to be.
- Secret number three – Even the best prospects go dark, and it’s up to you to make sure you have a process where you can follow-up and that you can go ahead and get that ink signed.
Are you having trouble closing the sale and getting the ink on the contract?
Leave a comment on the blog and let us know.
This post and video was episode 34 in our 90 Day Challenge digital marketing series.
To get access to all 90 days of videos, subscribe to our YouTube channel. YouTube will send our subscribers weekly emails about all the videos we published over the past week.
Want to know about each video and post as soon as it comes out? Sign up for 90 day challenge email newsletter. The newsletter will be the best way to make sure you don’t miss any of the content.