What is the most underrated part of selling your professional services to clients?
Lead quality? Tenacity? Deal-closing skills?
Nope. It’s having a defined system for tracking and following-up on deal flow.
That’s the backbone of successfully selling your services; not sales tactics. Having a clearly defined and well-thought-out sales process is the key to closing more deals.
Why is that? Because without a system for lead follow-up, your prospects will go as cold as last Christmas was for me in Minnesota (-15F, -26C).
Even if you aren’t great at sales, you can be world-class at following-up
Here’s something that I have noticed when it comes to closing deals; deals go cold. Often through no fault of your own.
Yes, even if you did everything right during the sales process, there’s a good chance your prospective clients will go radio-silent for a few days, weeks, months while contemplating their decision.
Great pitch deck? It doesn’t matter if the prospective client doesn’t have the budget to afford you.
Awesome case studies? Those won’t help if your prospect can’t get internal buy-in from the rest of their organization.
Expertly written contract vetted by your lawyer? Good for you, but what about the back-and-forth it causes between your client and their legal team?
You can do everything right and still end up killing the deal. You can follow every rule, yet succumb to factors outside of your control.
Whether the closing process takes a week or a month, ~80% of the deals I have closed took longer than a week for the contracts to be signed.
Nearly half of all deals will take over a month to close if they close at all.
That’s a long time to be waiting for the pen to hit the paper and sign the dotted line. That’s a long time to wait for a DocuSign.
How do you increase your odds of success and get the deal to close faster? Follow-up.
You will dramatically increase your sales results if you invest in a follow-up system for keeping in front of clients during their decision-making process.
Why follow-up, the client has the contract!
Your pitch process is excellent, and you have an impressive proposal and contract ready to go. Everything should be golden, right?
Not always. The truth is that no matter how good you are at selling, you usually won’t get ink on the contract right away. Even the best of us have to wait for signatures, even when the client seems super excited.
If the momentum seems to have died with your client, you’re probably upset, frustrated, scared. You’re also not alone.
Most of the time, you won’t hear yes right away to your proposal.
Or you will hear a verbal yes, but not receive a signed contract. Most of the time this has nothing to do with you.
But it doesn’t mean you can’t help the situation.
You want to know the difference between broke service professionals & those who get paid their due?
You need to stay in front of your prospect, but why?
- It’s not your money until it clears your bank account
- People don’t like to part with their money
Make giving you money their highest priority!
Reasons why hot prospects go cold
Here are some possible reasons why your prospects will go cold.
- You are fighting against indifference
- Their priorities have changed
- Internal politics and power struggles
- They spent their budget elsewhere and won’t have more for a while
- Your value doesn’t have a clear ROI
- Your pricing is too high, even though you were the best candidate
- They are going to try to do the project it internally
- They went with another provider and didn’t tell you
- Your contract is poorly written or too risky for the client to handle
Your strategy for follow-up depends on the reason you’re being locked out. There is no perfect strategy for every situation, but the more information you have available, the better you can propose a resolution to their concerns.
Closing the deal is not always in your control. But that doesn’t mean you should give up. The best sales teams keep on working until you hear “NO” definitively.
Building your sales follow-up system
It doesn’t matter what type of business you run. If you are a freelancer or one-person consulting shop, you need a sales follow-up system. If you are a growing agency, you need a system in place as well.
Where do you start? For beginners, you can use the simple technology around you to keep track of leads. When leads come into your inbox, you can make them a contact in your email system. For setting follow-up reminders, you can set calendar reminders to follow-up with them each week until a deal is ironed out.
This system works fine if you are closing 1-2 deals a month with a high success rate. No point in building a sales Death Star when the Millenium Falcon will do.
More than 1-2 deals a month? You’ll find that these low-tech solutions begin to break down. It gets harder to keep track of things, or you start to snooze your calendar reminders. When that happens, you will want to look into specialized technology.
CRM systems for the win
As you get more leads flowing in, you can utilize specialized technology to build a system that will work for your growing organization. Investing in a CRM system becomes vital at this point.
Of course, it’s not always a good practice to wait until you are overwhelmed to implement a new process. Honestly, that’s the worst time to make a transition.
On the other hand, it’s never too early to put a sales system in place, and the costs are minimal. You can get started with a sales system for as little as $20 a month (or use one of the many free tools at your disposal).
We spend a significant amount of time in our Sales Jumpstart course talking about how to set up these systems.
Sales Jumpstart focuses on helping 5, 6, and low 7-figure freelancers and agencies put processes in place to grow an enterprise-grade sales system. Not only that, but we are open up Sales Jumpstart for enrollment for the first time on Monday, April 30th. Stay tuned to learn more!
How do the best service providers keep sales deals flowing? They build a follow-up system that scales along with their needs.
Do you have a sales system in place? Have questions about building your sales system? Be sure to leave a comment!