Software Sales School Lesson #3

Fostering Customer Engagement

187698706Some business to business software companies only want to drive new lead generation and customer acquisition without focusing on ancillary sales or customer retention, but this isn’t the most profitable approach.

In our series on “Software Sales School,” we’ll be giving you the sales training lessons that help you not only increase your top-line growth, but also advance your company against the competition.

If you missed lesson one, “Targeting Your Buyer Personas And Their Pains,” read it here to get caught up in the Software Sales School series or check out lesson two, “Building (And Closing) A Bigger, Better Deal” to review our lesson from last month.

In Software School lesson three, we focus on fostering customer engagement, and how this ensures you maximize your revenue from every sale. When you foster customer engagement throughout the prospecting process by properly warming up leads and building them into full-fledged, long-term opportunities, your overall software sales are much more time-effective and lucrative.

The following are three ways that your sales team should encourage and nurture customer engagement from their initial prospecting to their final closing pitch:

Sales Vs. Service

Even if you outsource your software sales to another partner, your sales team should be specifically engineered to mirror the rest of your company culture, especially your customer service department.

With a customer-service mindset (instead of a customer-closing one), your software sales reps focus on delivering value through both the sales process, product fulfillment and customer adoption– which ultimately increases prospect trust and buying likelihood.

When your sales team takes this more advisory approach, rather than just a transactional approach, you also enable your team to avoid the cost-savings trap.

That is, when you focus on only the ROI and cost-savings of your software, you hamper your ability to cross-sell and upsell. Instead, it’s better to focus on a product’s value or opportunity cost-savings and serve as the prospect’s advisor in maximizing their needed value.

Each of your salespeople needs to go into the sales process with a clear, long-term vision of the sale. To drive that kind of enduring customer engagement, each software sales rep needs to work with your other internal teams to ensure support issues are promptly addressed, new features are regularly added and that the product stays competitive as other solutions are introduced. Especially for subscription-based software, an engaged customer is critical for your success.

Timing & Customer Consideration

Fostering customer engagement also includes giving prospects the courtesy of time to think about their decision. Only the rookie salesperson tries to push a final decision all into one call or conversation; instead, your sales team should give prospects space and follow up at a later time.

Following up from your initial sales conversation is a balancing act: You can’t wait too long to follow up, but you also can’t push the conversation too fast. For software sales, the right conversation frequency is usually weekly or biweekly.

Then, as the prospect’s consideration of your product increases, so should your call frequency – to the point that you might be talking with them every day in the week before they sign the finalized deal.

Continuing the conversation over a longer period of time is also critical to building trust with prospects. Between calls, utilize customer education throughout your sales process to help prospects feel better about making a decision.

Use tools and resources like client input, customer case studies and helpful tips and guides to proactively answer their questions and put their fears to rest.

When Engagement Is Low

Customer or prospect engagement usually hits a low point when objections are raised. If a prospect is having an emotional objection (or any other objection with little substance), it might just mean that they’re saying “no” as a default answer – and not a final one.

The best way to handle these objections is to keep asking questions to better understand their perspective. Then, tell a story of what has happened so far in the sales process, walking them through their objections and what factors have already been decided.

Reassure them that you hear what they’re saying and offer to send an industry- or pain-specific case study or video about a similar objection. After they’ve had time to consider and think through your answer, keep the conversation going with a well-timed follow-up call.

Another way to boost low prospect engagement in transactional sales is a technique called “the takeaway.” If you’ve struggled to start or maintain contact with a particular prospect, communicate your takeaway by telling the prospect that this is your last point of contact with them. Summarize your most recent interactions and leave your contact information for them to follow up if they’re still interested.

While the takeaway is a last-ditch effort for leads gone cold, its high risk also comes with high reward. It seems counterintuitive to break the communication cycle, but a takeaway usually sparks immediate action on behalf of a prospect. If (and usually when) the prospect calls you back, they’re more qualified than ever because the initiative of the conversation has shifted to their court.

Finally, if higher customer engagement increases your profitability, then the opposite is also true: Opportunities with too-low engagement aren’t worth pursuing, and you need to train sales staff on how to avoid those circumstances. Low engagement looks different for every company, but make sure your sales team is able to recognize situations where the prospect’s answer will always be “no.” These leads aren’t worth your time to pursue.

Congratulations! You’ve completed your third and final sales training lesson and have graduated from Software Sales School! You’re now ready for more advanced studies. Keep these three essential factors of customer engagement in mind – and teach them to your sales team – and you’re certain to see your software sales not just stay steady, but skyrocket.

Every software sales process benefits from the insight of an outsider – especially a professional trained in the Science of Sales™. Click below to contact a Sales Scientist™ from Invenio™ Solutions and receive a free comprehensive analysis of your entire sales process.