Want to increase close rates? Redefine what “closed” means!
The idea here is that every call CAN be closed – just not for the sale. Indulge me in a sports metaphor (and prepare for me to mix it up halfway through):
Football. When we load up our BDR and outbound acquisition teams with lead lists and then count the appointments booked, we’re essentially only celebrating successful hail-mary passes. Picture your rep near your own end zone and winging it down the field for a one-in-a-million catch in the other end zone.
Maybe not one in a million…more like let’s say .6% or roughly two appointments booked in a week of sixty-dial days? Sound pretty close? Not a whole lotta touchdowns happening in this scenario, and really…how many of us have a team full of Brady’s? (and seriously, even HE doesn’t have his contract renewed…but I digress)
Get A Commitment
What if instead, we instituted a first down system in sales? Something that lets us make a shorter-yard play and then mark our spot on the field so on the next play we weren’t starting from scratch?
Surely you’ve heard sellers lament the “starting from scratch” with leads right? Sure you called them three months ago and they told you to call back today, but did anyone actually remember you or what you sell? Here’s where commitments come in.
When we can get a potential customer to make a commitment to us on call one, we increase our mindshare with that lead. Sort of like sending an RSVP. Sure you don’t feel like going to the party when the date actually comes, but you DID send your RSVP that you’d be there, right?
I learned of this tactic from a restaurant. They had tons of no-shows for their reservations and were bleeding cash. My consultant friend went and did an analysis and added just two small words to the hostess’ script that made all the difference. Instead of saying,
“Call us if you can’t make it.” she added the words, “will you” thereby gaining a customer commitment on the call. By saying, “Will you call us if you can’t make it?” the customer responds with “Yes.” And again, even if he’s thinking of ditching the linen tablecloth for the couch and popcorn, he remembered that commitment and was TWICE as likely to either call or show. Massive change right? Mindshare.
Assign An Action
Now before you go and alter your scripts and training to reflect getting a “yes” from your customer, let’s make it even stronger. Give your customer an action item.
Let’s go back to the couch and the party. Sure you RSVP’d, but you can probably still make excuses come Monday morning when you see your buddy at work right?
But consider: What if you signed up to bring the beer? Think of all your thirsty and pissed-off friends waiting for you. Now THAT might get my behind off the couch and into the shower. You with me?
And if it didn’t work, the guilt certainly tripled? Same as the RSVP to the restaurant. I said I would call and I didn’t. It gives us a moment of pause. And next time we make a reservation, we might even remember our experience shafting that hostess. Mindshare.
OK, let’s translate.
If we’re outbounding to a customer and don’t get the appointment/demo/stage 2 win of the sales process, what CAN we get? We call these short-yard or mid-yard plays. Some examples:
- An appointment for call #2
- A commitment to check our current contract for the expiry date
- An agreement to read the study we send before the next call
- A promise to ask the rest of the team what they think of the current provider
- A commitment to take my next call
You’ll notice some of these wins are bigger than others, but they all include the customer saying yes, and the strongest ones give them an action. During training, we come up with our list of plays and then listen to calls together and vote on what commitment we’d use if our hail-mary falls short. Try it out!
Remember, the worst that can happen is your customer flakes and stays on the couch. But your odds of him remember who you are and what you do (and feeling JUST a bit guilty about it) on the next call has definitely increased.