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Coming Close But Not Closing?
Blog / For Sales Pros / May 28, 2014 / Posted by Chris Ourand / 6798

Coming Close But Not Closing?

Here’s How to Seal the Sale and Stop Coming in Second.

Coming close only counts, the old saying goes, in horseshoes and hand grenades. Your sales efforts are no exception. In fact, being a runner-up in the sales game is often doubly troubling, as you’ve likely invested a lot more in getting their attention than the firms who never showed up on their radar at all.

To find out what separates a done deal from a near miss, Hinge and RAIN Group studied over 700 actual B2B sales opportunities. Here’s a breakdown of how buyers and sellers of professional services identify the most important buyer selection criteria.

Top Selection Criteria

 Notice that buyers and sellers often disagree by a wide margin on the importance of these factors. Sellers have a particularly inflated importance of the impact of the cost of their services. Much more important to buyers are things like reputation and values. Turns out that knocking 5% off won’t make much difference if you simply aren’t a firm your prospects trust.

As for the criteria that separated the winners from the runners up, take a look at this:

What Tips the Scale for the Winner?

 Again, reputation is key, as is having a pre-existing relationship with the buyer. Expertise and past performance are now highly overrated by sellers. This is because most buyers don’t know very much about your expertise and past performance. This is where content marketing comes in.

Creating content (blog posts, articles, whitepapers, videos, podcasts, webinars, etc.) and making it available to your target audiences displays your expertise. Buyers want to make educated decisions, so educate them.

What Sales Winners Do Differently

We examined 42 factors to understand how firms that won the sale differed from those that came in second place. The combination of ten factors predicted success in closing the sale, with educating buyers ranking highest in the pack.

 This kind of customer education is easily achievable through content marketing, as are the other top two factors listed above:

  1. Educate. Share your processes. Your content should offer an industry insider’s perspective. Remember, though, your content shouldn’t appear self-serving or like a sales pitch. You’re sharing and teaching your audience about your industry.
  2. Collaborate. You’ve taught them. You’re speaking the same language now. The result is more collaborative interaction. You’re more than a service provider. You’re a partner in solving their problems.
  3. Persuade. Throughout the education process, you’ve offered examples of ways to solve problems—as well as ways to avoid them altogether. Prospects understand that you’re an expert and that your experience puts you in a powerful position to achieve the desired results.

Keep in mind that a successful brand is made up of a solid reputation and high visibility. Reaching out to potential clients with content marketing is a great way to prove yourself as an experienced and expert professional services firm and to get more visible. Create quality content and you can kiss the close calls goodbye. You’ll be well on your way to the winner’s circle.

About Author

Chris Ourand is an Account Director at Hinge, a marketing and branding firm for professional services. Sales training firm Rain Group co-authored the referenced study.

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