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Sales velocity: How to improve conversion rates

Sales velocity series: Part 1 of 4

Conversion or “win” rate is the percentage of leads that turn into business in a given period. Increasing your conversion rates is a key part of sales velocity, or how fast you’re making money.

There are four important measures in sales velocity: conversion rate, the number of opportunities, average order value and time to sale. Each one is a lever you need to pull to accelerate your outcomes in sales. 

Our series on sales velocity looks at each of these concepts in more depth, along with conversion rates we will be releasing:

  • How to increase your average order value
  • How to increase the number of sales opportunities
  • How to reduce your length of sales cycle

Why is it important to improve conversion rates?

When people drop out of your pipeline unexpectedly, it costs your business time and money. If this happens, it’s normally because the customer can’t convince a key stakeholder, or they weren’t a good fit in the first place. 

Selling internally isn’t easy. Usually, it’s more likely that a deal will go through if you personalise what you’re selling to your champion in a business and multi-thread a deal by engaging with as many of the stakeholder group as you can.

There are lots of ways you can do this. This article looks at the crucial factors in working together as a team to strengthen your conversion rates.

Get buy-in from influencers

Deals need to be multi-threaded. That means having more than one person in the client’s business who will advocate for you. 

A huge reason why a deal won’t convert is down to who you’re working with. Identify the mobilisers in your client’s business early and make sure you’ve got them on side.

Find the people who are good at driving change and building consensus in their business. This doesn’t necessarily correlate with the business hierarchy – these won’t always be C-suite execs. 

You need to work with people who have the ability to influence others and get sales signed off quickly. And be aware of those who put up blockers and might slow things down. 

Make it easy for clients to sell on

You’ve convinced your champion and left it with them to go and get the deal signed. The problem is, getting the decision pushed through their business will be tough. 

This is when the hard work starts for your champion. They have stakeholders to convince and sales reps hassling them to sign the deal. They end up paralysed and don’t even take the first step. 

Don’t back off at this stage. As a salesperson, you should lean in and take their hand.

Make it as easy as possible for clients to sell on by showing them what the decision-making process will look like.

There will be different viewpoints, blockers and pushback from their stakeholders. Work collaboratively to map these out in advance. Help your champion understand the process they need to go through to get an agreed decision.

Create proposals and presentations for the decision makers

Often, reps sell to their main champion in the business, then leave it to them to get other stakeholders on board.

This is a big mistake. It slows down conversion rates because the proposal hasn’t been written for the stakeholders’ needs. Instead, it’s been designed based on the needs of the champion.

All stakeholders need to go on the same journey as your champion. They all need to see a compelling reason for change and be aligned to your solution.

Creating your presentations and proposals for the entire decision-making group is critical to increase conversion rates. Think about:

    • What position are they starting from?
    • What are they used to?
    • What are they thinking and feeling before reading your proposal?
    • What questions will they have?
    • What information do they need in the proposal to get them from their start point to seeing a compelling reason to act now and choose your solution?
  • Diagnostic: I have co-created the proposal with my champion and designed it to answer the questions of the stakeholder group.
  • Question: What questions does your proposal need to answer for the stakeholders? 

Teach them how to choose

Salespeople tend to focus on what they’re selling. A stronger way to drive the conversion rate is to teach your clients how to buy.

It sounds complicated, but it’s as simple as finding out the criteria they currently use to make buying decisions and helping them reshape it. 

Teach them how to buy in a way that’s best going to solve their challenges – but teach them in a way that leads to you. Make sure you’re distinct from your competitors so that you’re the only ones who fit into the criteria.

Deal with objections head-on

Many objections can be anticipated and avoided, so don’t be afraid of them. Be ready for them by following these steps: 

    • Brainstorm prior to conversations what the pushback might be
    • Bring these up yourself, where you need to. Challenge them, tackle them and teach around them
    • Lean in and listen to fully understand the objection when it arises
    • Understand the client’s view point. Listen deeply. Address the concern with stories and insights. Focus the client back on the value you can offer.

Remember – if you don’t deal with objections head on, your clients will still have them afterwards and they are unlikely to be overcome. 

Questions to ask about improving conversion rates

Ask yourself these questions to help improve conversion rates and increase your sales velocity:

  1. Who are the most influential stakeholders and what is their perspective on this opportunity?
  2. What could slow this deal down and how do you avoid that?
  3. What questions does your proposal need to answer for the stakeholders? 
  4. What buying criteria do you need your client to have for you to be the only choice?
  5. What is the likely pushback and what insights can I share to avoid this?

Look out for the next in our series – How to increase your order value – plus you may like to download our free how-to guide on ‘Sales Velocity: The crucial equation powering today’s best sales teams’.

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