Facing rejection is something every salesperson has to deal with eventually. What's interesting is how differently great sellers deal with failure compared to the rest. One of the greatest lessons I've learned in sales is how to turn clients who've said no to me into paying customers.
To understand this lesson, start thinking out how you treat your investors. There are certain rules that people learn through fundraising that are extremely valuable.
While these tips are great for funding, they also are amazing tips to use on prospects. Here's how and why you should start treating potential customers like investors.
1. The Email Update
Investors hate telling you no. Instead, many times you'll get a line about how they need more time, and then they'll ask you to keep them updated. This is what customers tell you as well. They're not ready to buy, but they like your product. Usually, they'll say lets definitely stay in touch and they stop contacting you.
When I first started selling, I considered these leads pretty much done. I would try to remember to email them back after a couple of months but would continuously forget. By the time I got around to it, they had completely forgotten who I was. Then after I raised my first round of funding, I noticed how many of my investors were people who said no to me originally. The way I stayed in contact was through monthly email updates about our progress. I started applying this strategy in sales, and I was amazed at how many prospects that said no started showing interest again.
When a client tells you to stay in touch, treat them exactly like you would an investor. Create an excel sheet of all those clients, and include their email address, when you contacted them, etc. Then have a company update that you send to all those prospects every 1-2 months. The update should include any new features, big clients you've landed, or additions to the team. Take special note that this is not just a mass email advertisement. You want to dig deeper than that. Customers will take notice when they see you've landed a big buyer, or that you've just added an amazing team member to your company.
While discounts and new features are great, you want to get these customers who've turned you down to follow your story. To do this, try including funding updates and key milestones in your emails. Overtime, you'll be surprised how many purchasers go straight to your company when they are looking to make their next buy. Don't just send ads or ignore customer's who've said no completely. Use the same system you do for investor updates, and you'll take advantage of clients who rejected you the first time.
2. Ask for advice and you get money. Ask for money and you get advice.
When talking to investors, there's a golden rule that states you should ask for mentorship before money. This helps you and the investor get to know each other, and also starts a relationship that isn't just focused on the funding aspect. This same rule is a great one to follow for prospects as well. When I tell people I ask prospects for advice all the time, they give me a weird look. Why would I ask potential purchasers for advice on my company? Doesn't that show signs of weakness? In my experience, the answer is no.
Customers love telling me what they're seeing in the market, and how my company can be improved. Not only do I get great advice, but this also is a great way to turn prospects into clients. People who give you their time and advice become invested in your company. They want to have a positive effect on your organization, and by incorporating their advice you get their buy in. Once you have that, converting them to paying buyers is a much easier task.
To do this, ask your prospects about their opinion on an industry related problem you're seeing. It could even be something as open ended as asking your potential purchasers what changes they are seeing in the market. When you start getting quality answers, incorporate the feedback into your business. If executed the right way, you'll notice how much easier it will be to close on that customer.
3. It's a marathon not a sprint
I hate having sales cycles with customers that last way longer than I'd like. Once you have the client excited, it's important that you execute fast and get the close. Unfortunately, many times the customer is just not ready to pull the trigger. Instead of getting discouraged, just remember that like investors, it takes time to get a commitment. By knowing this, you can start focusing on planting as many seeds as possible. Your time will be better spent filling your leads funnel rather than spending all your time trying to pressure a client to buy.
When you want the best deal with an investor, your strategy should be to get as many term sheets as possible. This gives you bargaining power and makes you look less desperate. The same mentality should be taken with sales. Having more prospects than you can handle makes it much easier to deal with rejection, and gives you more confidence in the sale.