“I don’t believe in scenarios, but there are few rules that can help you. Know the product you’re selling, listen to your customer and be patient.”
From today’s episode you’ll learn:
Okay, I'm here with Jacob, hello Jacob! Can you please tell me something about yourself and your role in LiveChat?
Hi. I'm a Customer Success Manager in LiveChat. I take care of customer's retention and inbound sales, so if you need to implement chat on your website, please feel free to contact me and I'll be more than happy to help you.
Okay, so today, we're talking about how to gain more customers and we're talking about SaaS companies, in particular. I have an impression that it's quite difficult to sell applications and do you know what's the reason for that?
Well, the reason is pretty simple, each customer is different. So you can sell to the same type of company but they may use the software in a very different and unique way.
It's all about inbound and outbound, right, so can you tell me something more about it?
Yeah. The outbound is searching for customers so you are actively searching for someone that may not even be aware of your company and so, they search for their contact information from LinkedIn or some e-mail list; and you're trying to put the foot in the door and give them some information about your company.
The inbound customer is someone that came to your company on their own, so they found out information on your website, by using the search engines or some articles in your blog, Quora. Both customers, once you reach out to them, they will contact you. The sales path is pretty similar, in both cases. So getting the needs of the customer, presenting the product, trying to close the deal, and trying to have the customer achieve their goals and also not to try some sleazy salesman or selling sand on Sahara.
We already covered outbound in the 8th episode of Business Sidekick where I spoke with Emilia Mosiewicz, our Sales Director so if you'd like to check it out then you can check it. Now, we're talking about how to close a deal with success so is there a scenario of a perfect pitch that could help me to do that?
I don't believe in perfect scenarios but there are a few rules that you can follow which can help you. The first thing that you need to know is the product that you're selling, if you don't know your product from head-to-toes then you shouldn't start selling it because how can you prepare an offer for a customer when you don't know exactly what you're selling; it's like selling of the sand on the Sahara.
You can be a good salesman but the buyer's remorse will come sooner or later so if you don't know what you're selling, the customer won't be happy.
Then, like I mentioned earlier, you need to listen to your customer and ask questions so that you get to know his needs and try to prepare the best offer possible, for your customer and then be patient, follow-up and then try to close the deal, once the customer will be ready to do it.
Okay so let's repeat. When customers are reaching out to you, you set-up a telephone meeting, right?
Yeah. In most cases, we want to do it over one telephone meeting, some customers require some additional presentations, demos.
When we're speaking with an Enterprise-level company, a lot of people are involved in the process so not only the Customer Support Department but also someone from IT, marketing, sales and so on; so there are multiple people in the meeting. In such cases, we are conducting one hour demonstrations of the presentation and software.It's not one hour of talking about Live Chat, it's more like speaking for about 15 minutes, about what our software has to offer and the remaining 45 minutes is, speaking with them about what they want to do and how you can help them achieve their goals. In most cases, we want to close the deal over the first phone call.
We're also helping ourselves; well I'm helping myself with the recorded version of the presentation so someone is very interested in getting to see our software, getting to know the software before they can start using it, I'm also sending the link to the video. Once they've reviewed it, we are scheduling a short call to answer some short questions and then move forward with the selling process.
Yesterday, when we were talking about this interview, you said something quite interesting that you don't do demos for all customers because sometimes, it's not worth your time. Alright, it sounds really bad but maybe you can explain it.
It's a hard truth because it depends on the size of your team. If you have 500 sales people, then you can do demos, you can have one sales person for one customer that's reaching to you.
Our team is relatively small but we we want to save our and the customer's time so the customer may think that they need the hour but like I said, in most cases, the 15 minute call can close the deal; so instead of booking 1 hour off someone's schedule from both ends, we can do it much faster over the short call.
So here's when video tutorials come in handy, right? Alright. You also said that sometimes it's possible to close a deal during an hour and I'm wondering if it's possible because you know, it's application so it's something really complex. It's a complex decision. Does it happen often that you can close a deal during an hour?
If you're very lucky, yes, but in most cases, it takes some time; it takes weeks, sometimes months. You might be lucky and have customer that is visiting your company from word-of-mouth and that is a powerful tool or they use our software in other businesses and want to implement new business, then you can close the deal very quickly.
If it's a new customer, ready to implement the chat, you need to be aware that in such cases; deals are closed in weeks because most of the time, some teams need to be involved. There's a user of the software, there's someone who will place the software into your environment or someone from IT, who needs to coordinate all of that, you need to have time for training and setting everything up so it all takes time.
Our system is very simple to place it on a website, in less than a day, you can have it up and running for the whole team but still, even with such simple solutions; if other departments are involved, it needs to take time.
What are the most important questions you always ask your customers that can help you to prepare an offer?
Okay, so the first most important question is, if they have a timeline for this implementation. If they don't have a timeline, it means that it will be very hard to close this deal because there is no deadline so they can postpone for the next few months, quarters or a few weeks.
Okay so what do you mean by that? They're contacting you and telling you that in 2 months, they want to choose a live chat, right?
Yeah. There are a lot of situations where the customer is checking what the market has to offer so almost 9 times out of 10, the customers are contacting us and 5 other companies; so it's not like they want to use us. If they're contacting us, they definitely want to use live chat. They want to check what the market has to offer and then internally decide, what is the best offer that they can get from different vendors.
You need to know when they will be ready to make the decision, because if the customer is talking to you now; if they want to start using software in the end quarter of this year; it means that they will forget everything that you've told them today and next month.
I don't remember the exact movie that I saw last month and I did it for pleasure so you will not remember it because you have different things on your mind; so with such a customer, you need to then adapt the type of information that you're giving them. Prepare some plan for follow-ups - if it's a long sales process and not take a lot of time in the first contact, to not spend two hours of demoing the software because they said that they will probably forget about it in the next few weeks so you'll still need to repeat the same things.
It's better to first give them some bullet points, some information that they can easily return to and be their point of contact, being in constant contact with them and then you will know when you are ready to move forward.
Here are the timeframes. Is there anything else you should know?
Yeah. Well, so the way that they want to use the software is also basic; especially with software, there are different plans that you're offering, there are different features available in each plan, so if you will know the needs of the customer, you can prepare the best plan for them so this is another thing that you need to know.
You also need to know if the person that you're is a decision-maker. So if you're not speaking with the decision-maker, it's good to add him or her into the communication so you can ask about the decision-maker. Once you'll be close to the deadline, you will have the decision-maker say, "Okay, let's move forward," and avoid this middleman in this process.
Finally, the hardest question: the question about the budget, it's not to know the exact numbers in the budget so you don't need to know if the customer has $1000 to spend on your software. It's good to know if they have it planned in their company's budget so if there's a plan to place this software or to add this software in the budget, then you know that it won't be an obstacle.
If they don't have it in the budget, it means that it may be a big roadblock somewhere along the road because it may be the account team said, "Hey! We don't have money for that, we need to wait," so it's also something that's worth knowing.
Okay so now that we have all DO's of our successful pitch, what are the DON'Ts?
Don't over promise. If you don't have something, tell them that you cannot do it. Try to understand why someone wants to use the software in a particular way, maybe there's an alternative but if someone's interested in your solution, avoid saying that you have everything that they need because sooner or later, they will find out there is something that's lacking and they won't be happy.
Like I said in the beginning, try to avoid being the sleazy salesman so trying to push it at all costs, the buyer's remorse is a powerful thing and with the software tools where you can stop paying for the software in a matter of a few seconds, you want the customer to receive the right tool to use so this the biggest don't that you should avoid.
Just for some tips, while you will talk with your customers; also avoid constant talking on your end so once again, listen, listen and just ask a few questions into this conversation. This is something that I had to learn on my own because I love to talk.
Yeah, you're a talker! I can say that.
Yeah and it's easy to bore the other end especially when you're not seeing them so if you're connecting via Skype or any other tool where you don't see them yawling or sleeping so that's also very important.
Okay so thanks a lot for this chat and here's the last question because I'm pretty curious; how long did take for you to close a deal?
Somewhere around 8 months. 8 or 9 months maybe. It was a very long deal but it was a great customer and we had some forms that needed to be filled out and some technical documentation to send so, a few people from our team helped me with that and it was a team effort. Thanks to them and thanks to us being patient.
They chose us and they told us that because we stood our ground, we fought with all the forms, the questions and all the problems that they've had; they choose us and they want to use us for a very long time.
I'm so sorry but I do have another question and I promise it's the last one but you said that, they had some requirements and I think it really happens often, that when you're working for a software application company, your customers will want you to provide or create features specially for them. Do you think that it's a good way of building your product, listening to your customers?
Listening to the customers is always a good thing to do. Your customer has some great ideas on how to enhance your product and make it better. But at the same time, you need to draw a line somewhere because if you want to add features for each customer, that means that you'll need to have a huge team that will do it; which is costly or your current team will stop improving your software because they'll be busy adding features by someone's request.
You need to think globally if you have all those customers, you need to think about the customers base and what is better for most of them but at the same time, listening to the customer's ideas, is something that is really worth doing.
We have a list of the feature requests from our customers, it's shared with our development team. We are talking with our development team about those feature requests, if they think that there is something worth adding to our software, they're doing but again, you need to think about the scale so think about all of your current customers and how you can make their life easier. If you can also help some new customer add something cool to your software, why not?!
Alright. Thank you very much for this chat.
Thank you, it was a wonderful talk.
That’s it for today! Thank you for listening, I hope you liked this episode of Business Sidekick. For more episodes, check our website, livechatinc.com/podcast and hit the subscribe button on SoundCloud or iTunes for more goodies.
And remember: be realistic about your products, because if you sell a dream, your customer support will service the nightmare. Hear you in two weeks, take care!
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