Closing Sales in the Age of the Customer

Today's empowered consumers have access to more information than ever, often giving them the upper hand in buyer-seller relationships. To overcome this, businesses must influence perceptions, understand customers' ever-changing needs, develop personalized collateral and messaging, shorten the sales cycle, and create self-serve solutions to close more sales.

Here, we delve into five steps for capturing the attention of empowered consumers and converting them into paying customers.

Delight and Surprise Prospects

When evaluating purchasing options, people often Google brands they come across. What they find heavily influences their perception of your business and is a powerful initial filter. Any negative press or reviews may immediately disqualify your company from a buyer's list of options.

Firms intent on staying in the running delight and surprise prospects by producing positive brand experiences across the Web. And businesses should start by addressing critical customer reviews. For Entrepreneur, contributor Firas Kittaneh outlines four critical steps:

  1. Do not hide from your mistakes.
  2. Focus on solutions, not excuses.
  3. Recruit consumers' help.
  4. Work with a clear conscience.

This demonstrates that your brand is responsive to customer issues and operates with high integrity. Businesses battling negative press, similarly, must own up to their shortcomings and deliver on promises to make amends.

Companies that maintain a favorable brand image work hard to earn gushing customer testimonials and media praise through exceptional customer service, empathetic product development, and strategic public relations.

Develop User Empathy

Successful businesses know—and anticipate—exactly what their customers want and need. That is because customer-centric firms ask the right questions and know how to analyze data to uncover underlying trends that give them a competitive advantage. Through customer surveys, one-on-one consultations, and user analytics, brands discover information that enables them to build better products and craft intelligent sales material.

The results from a customer survey, for example, may reveal potential features a company should develop next. In a one-on-one consultation, potential customers may share concerns about pricing, which salespeople can easily adjust to close the sale. User analytics tell businesses more about people's behaviors and how those actions may be further influenced.

Customize Content

Each of your customers has unique needs and circumstances. Therefore, generic marketing and sales messages tend to fall on deaf ears. In this day and age, educated buyers demand high-quality, personalized content.

To produce collateral that elicits emotion and inspires action, marketing and sales teams must concentrate on specific client concerns that may range from price to quality assurance to privacy concerns and unique selling points. These materials may manifest in the form of articles, whitepapers, pitch decks, and sales proposals that are often shared as part of integrated content marketing, lead generation, or lead nurturing campaigns.

Because buyers undergo distinct phases in the decision-making processes, content helps brands overcome customer reservations, supports your sales pitch, and reinforces your value proposition as prospects progress through the different stages—from start to finish—of the sales cycle.

Shorten the Sales Cycle

With marketing and sales automation, businesses can efficiently deliver content that compliments a buyer's journey. Information can be shared in a timely manner, proposals may be customized on the go, and contracts can be drafted and delivered in minutes as opposed to hours or even days.

Formerly, sales meetings concluded with the promise of materials—proposals, contracts, and other collateral—to come. The time lag between when a meeting ended and when a sales representative could return to her desk to produce those materials often gave buyers the opportunity to reconsider the sales pitch and lose interest. To convert eager customers as soon as their interest has peaked, salespeople must have high-impact marketing content on hand and should be able to produce customized sales proposals on the fly. This is especially important when sales teams are still in direct contact with prospects so they may close deals as soon as buyers are ready to proceed with a business deal.

Enable Customers to Close

Most sales funnels are riddled with inefficiencies that cause companies to lose out on millions in revenue. Businesses that enable consumers to help themselves often eliminate unnecessary friction in the buying process.

E-Signature options and integrated payment solutions allow prospects to execute contracts at the click of a button and pay for services instantly instead of having to print, hand-sign, or scan physical documents and manually issue a check. Also, in an increasingly mobile world, commercial proposals and contracts should be easy to view and sign on smartphones and tablets. This way, clients may streamline steps at the end of the funnel so you may close more sales.

Since customers can conduct thorough research on your brand, have you done your job in crafting a positive public image and in delivering customized content that closes sales?

Based in San Francisco, Mikita Mikado is a software engineer and entrepreneur and is the CEO of PandaDoc. He is passionate about building meaningful SAAS applications that help to save time and be more productive. 

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