“I don’t understand. I faithfully use my trusty sales call script, but prospective clients aren’t buying. Why is that?
What’s the problem? Is it my script? Do I need a better one?” If you’re asking these questions about your digital agency sales process, you aren’t alone.
The truth is, yes, the problem may be the script--but the solution isn’t to simply come up with a better script. You can increase your chances of closing the sale by matching your sales process to your customer’s decision-making process.In this article I’m going to walk you through an actual script-based sales pitch used by a 7-figure digital agency selling software services. I will highlight the problems with the approach and what you can do to improve your own sales process.
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Hey, it's Alzay Calhoun with Coveted Consultant. I know you've got your foolproof sales scripts, but just because you walk someone through a series of templated questions, it doesn't mean that they're going to immediately buy from you. What's more appropriate is that you appreciate that your best client is going through a decision-making process, and your sales process should respect that decision-making process.
Today what I want to do is walk you through a case study--an example that I just experienced as a prospective client, considering buying services from someone--and what that flow looked like. I want to point out what I believe are some flaws, and maybe those flaws highlight some opportunities where you can improve your sales process.
In this example, I'm not going to use any company names here. I'm not trying to embarrass anyone. I'm not trying to start any fights. I'm just trying to be clinical about a sales process so that you can hopefully learn a few things from this video.
I will tell you that this company is in a digital marketing space. They are an established company. They are at least a million dollars in revenue, and if I said their name, you would probably know who they are. This is a company that's in the space, they're doing well already. I just think there are some ways they could improve the sales process, and the lessons may also help you.
A Sales Process Example: The Script is Only Part of the Equation
Here we go. Here's a situation: in my world, I was thinking about offering a new service. I was thinking about using a new software tool that would help me facilitate that service. I was thinking, "Hmmm, should I add this service and use this tool? Would this tool help me or not?" Et cetera. I was thinking it through. We'll call that step zero.
Then step one, I actually went to this company's website, and I saw that they had service packages: small, medium, and large. Then they had a custom for agencies, and so I fit in that bracket. I clicked a link that was there which prompted me to send them an email. That email already had some prompts in it. They asked for my name, my website, my phone number, traffic stats, and whether or not email-list building was important to me.
I responded to those questions, and then I asked three or four follow-up questions unique to me, things I was considering at that exact moment. I did that, sent that email off. Then they went quiet for about three days. I didn't get a response for about three days, so I reached back out to them, "Hey, any information on the things that I sent to you?"
Then a bright, shining personality responded right back: "Hey, Alzay, I see that you've got some questions here. Do you want to schedule a time to chat?" I’ve got to be honest--I sighed audibly, because I don't really want to chat. But we'll get to that in just a minute. I went ahead and scheduled a chat, because it was clear to me that I wouldn't get the answers I was after until I talked to somebody.
Okay. I scheduled at that time, we had that conversation. Now we're on the sales call. All right? They call it a chat and we call it a chat, but really it's a sales call. You're trying to close a sale here. I'm not offended by that, by the way; I sell things too. I'm not offended by that.
Let's continue. Here's where things start to get a little interesting.
When the Sales Call Script Breaks: My Agenda and Her Agenda Were Different
What was her agenda? I talked to a lady. What was her agenda when I was on the call with her? Well, this was her agenda; this was the flow of her conversation:
- She introduced herself and she asked me a couple of basic questions about my company.
- She showed me the feature set. This tool does a variety of different things, so she was showing all the different things that this tool could do.
- Then she showed me how those tools could work in my world. She did some screen-sharing and she brought a screen up. She showed me this and that and this and that and this and that, and all that was square. All that was great.
- Then she asked for the sale. She closed, right? She said, "So, do you want to buy this? When do you think you might decide on this?" Et cetera, et cetera.
Okay, I'm telling you, I'm not offended by any of this. None of this bothers me. As she followed her sales script, she was right on target. Here's the rub: her agenda and my agenda did not match.
- First of all, I don't need the introduction, so asking me questions about my business doesn't do much for me, because I already know my business. That part means less to me.
- When she was showing me the whole feature set, I really was just trying to confirm one specific feature. There was one specific thing that I was trying to get understanding on: Do you guys do this thing well?
- Then, what was going in the back of my mind was: If I switched from using my current provider and start using your provider, is that going to be hard for me?
Am I going to have to change every single element of my business to make it work here? Does your service hook up to all my other services exactly the way this one does or are there some nuances that I'm going to have to consider? In my mind, I'm really going through the pain of switching, and I don't want this to be hard.
I've got to train my team to use these new services. I’ve got to create that training. I've got to go through three weeks or six weeks or nine weeks or six months of analysis to make sure that this new tool works. That's where my real pain point was.
Then, after better understanding that, I was going to make a decision--which could have been yes, I want to buy this or still, no, I want to stay where I am.
How to Pitch Clients for Digital Marketing: Improve YOUR Process
What are the major lessons to learn here?
Lesson 1: Focus on the Problem the Client Needs to Solve
Most sales presentations focus on the feature set and they assume that the feature set will do the heavy lifting. You say hello, you ask a couple of basic questions about the business, you show that awesome feature set, all the different possibilities. You show how it might work in their situation, and then ask for the sale. Basic, core Sales 101, and I don't have any challenge with that.
The trouble is that you're assuming that the feature set by itself is what I am buying. I'll be so excited about all these different tools and options, I'll pay the 100 bucks, 200 bucks, and I'll figure it out later.
But I'm coming to the table willing to spend $2,000, $5,000, $10,000--not because I want more features to figure out and sort through later, but because I'm trying to solve something now. That's why I'm paying the premium. I'm trying to trade my money for peace of mind. I'm trying to trade my money for efficiency.
This conversation wasn't designed to understand what my peace of mind would be or where it was. It wasn't designed to understand what my real problem was and to solve for that. The way the conversation was outlined, it was only designed to show me the 100 different things that the software could do.
Lesson 2: Match Your Sales Process to the Decision-Making Process of Your Client
Remember that this is not just about a sales call but rather a sales process. Your sales process should match the decision-making process of your client.
In this process, there was opportunity right here to better understand my needs. They asked me to send an email. I sent them one, and I sent them some supporting questions to better understand the situation. There was an opportunity via email right in here to ask me, "Okay, Alzay, here are the answers to your current questions. Is there something else you're trying to solve for? How can we better understand what you're trying to do? Are you using any other software to currently get this done?"
Those were all things that could have been set up and emailed to qualify me for the sales call that was going to happen at the bottom. As a prospective client, I'm more than happy to answer any questions that will help you better understand my situation and take pain out of my life.
How to Handle Sales Calls (and How Not to)
The fact that I had to follow up with them tells me that, number one, they probably aren't focused on selling these premium packages, because if they were focused on that, they would have followed up a whole lot faster. If I wanted more in-depth information, I've got to sign up for a chat, and a chat means a sales call.
To bring it all home, look again at your sales process. Is your process designed to promote features or is it designed to solve problems? If you're selling services that are $2,000, $5,000, $10,000, it is really hard to sell on features alone.