How to Close B2B Deals Faster
Join us on April 6 where Joe Ducarreaux will be in conversation with our Global Head of Sales Toby Fellows discussing:
🎢 Common challenges sales leaders face
🛑 How to identify and overcome bottlenecks and delays
♻️ Proven techniques for streamlining the sales cycle (including forecasting, deal management, and pipeline visibility)
💻 The role of technology in managing complex sales processes
Webinar topic detail
In B2B sales today, we know it’s common to feel the pressure to optimize resources and race against the clock to close complex deals. If this is you, you’re not alone – but it’s crucial to find solutions to stay ahead of the game.
Whether you’re a sales leader striving for peak performance or an individual contributor eager to sharpen your skills, this session is your ticket to unlocking valuable insights and gaining actionable tips that will revolutionize the way you manage complex B2B sales processes.
Joe Ducarreaux: Hello and welcome to the B2B Sales Playbook podcast brought to you as ever by Lead Forensics. I’m your host Joe Ducarreaux and this episode is the audio taken from our webinar How to Close B2B Deals Quicker. I was joined for this by Toby Fellows, Global Head of Mid Market Sales for Lead Forensics and we explore the best hints and tricks for getting those deals over the line in record time.
So without further ado, here is the Closing Deals Quicker Playbook with Toby Fellows.
Joe Ducarreaux: Let’s jump straight into the questions I’ve got for you, Toby. How can sales leaders ensure that their teams are effectively managing multiple decision makers and stakeholders in a complex sales process?
Toby Fellows: Good question. So, the challenge I suppose is knowing who those decision makers are right. Often people get caught out thinking that they’re at a certain place in the sales process because they believe they’ve got the right people and it turns out there’s actually a lot more people involved. So the first thing you need to understand is who is in that decision making process as early as possible, so you can start bringing them in. That’s super simple. You can use LinkedIn when you have your first initial conversations, asking questions. The next piece would be then to actually understand what is the decision making process. So understanding, okay, well who has to go to who for sign off and who has to be involved, are there boards involved, partners, etc. So if you understand who the players are and the process that business takes, it makes it a ton easier to obviously know what you’ve got to do next.
Connect with them on LinkedIn. Let’s try and meet with these other stakeholders, bring them into the process and that’ll help speed up relationships, rather than you just being a name. Then there will always be decision makers that don’t want to be involved in the process or don’t want to meet with you, or they’re too busy. Trying to obviously interact with them without speaking to them can be tricky. So sharing updates like we do business cases, where you’re at in the sales process. Bring them into the fold through things like video. So that’s another thing as well, you can create some sort of visual stimulus that can help them see what’s going on. That can make it a ton easier to obviously get them bought into the process.
So prepare, understand their processes, connect with as many people as possible, share updates and then use sort of visual tools to help speed things up as you go through. I think that’s it.
Joe Ducarreaux: It is always a fine balance to juggle, isn’t it? When you’re connecting with people on LinkedIn to try and foster a relationship, but at the same time, if you’ve got a weekly quota that you’ve got to hit, you’ve got to hit it. So with that in mind then, how do you overcome those bottlenecks and delays when you have a weekly quota?
Toby Fellows: I think it’s one of the biggest pains, running sales where people talk about pipeline. I use an analogy of a plane coming into land. So if you think you’ve got an opportunity and it’s coming into the land on the runway. Sales salespeople will sell you everything. They’re like, oh yeah, this deal’s happening and this is when it’s happening. Oh, yeah, it’s going to happen here. And then when you kind of dig into it, you realize they haven’t even started the approach to the airport and it’s so much further away than you thought it was. It’s less like bottlenecks in the sense of things you can’t overcome or delays you can’t generally control. But people think that it’s somewhere where it actually isn’t in the process. I suppose going back to the first question, the biggest piece, is understanding who the players are and what their processes are. Very few people actually ask the questions….. so, if you love what you see and you like the product, what exactly is the decision making process for your business if you’re buying a product like this? Help them give you the details to join the dots up. When you know the process, then ultimately you can work with that process and actually then it’s the case with them being able to pledge and understand what actually has to happen next to make the right action or tell you the what action.
From a leadership point of view, think about weekly quotas, things like gamification incentives, I think is always key. You know, everybody loves short term gratification. So if you’ve got an incentive for someone like a sales rep, it can very quickly give them the impetus to actually go and do the actions that they should have done anyway to make that happen.
Other things, you can probably Google a ton of things on the internet around offers. If you’ve got some sort of incentive for the end user ie. the person who is buying, there’s that fear of loss or like fear of missing out if they don’t take it, especially if there’s a numerical impact on that ie. financial. So that can create some urgency internally within their business, which will help. Then obviously your language of how you portray these things….. like a limited time offer, the last chance to get this regular contract. Right now it’s the end of the quarter for us so there’s a lot of conversations happening reminding people about what the incentive is and what the impact can have if they don’t take advantage of it. Just to help them have the conversations that they might push off, just to have them quicker because there’s actually a financial incentive to make that happen.
So there’s quite a few things that you can do there.
Joe Ducarreaux: Yeah, the financial incentive plus the time pressure. I’m not sure if there’s a bigger motivator. It’s certainly for myself anyway, for sure. So how can a company ensure that its short-term revenue goals line up with its long-term sales strategy?
Toby Fellows: Well, I think the important thing is that there’s not a disconnect between leadership and strategy, and ultimately individuals who are on the ground, in the trenches. Communicating what the bigger picture is on a regular basis is really important. Because if salespeople are not bought into that, then ultimately they’re just going to focus on their agenda. For us, I think it’s really important that tying in things like compensation, targets and rewards that line up with that bigger picture strategy is really important. So that everybody’s working in the same direction. Actually that is also the same with penalties. What I mean by that is, if there’s something that people will go to, which isn’t really of interest for the business in the bigger picture commercially wise, you want to incentivize those less or have a lot less commission against them and drive and have a lot higher commission for the things you do want to focus on.
Ironically, then salespeople will suddenly go towards the things that are going to make them the most money. How leaders can help more is with data. What I mean by data is, if you’ve got a specific strategy that you are going to target certain industries or businesses or achieve a certain goal; if you put the right opportunities in front of the sales team, that’s automatically going to help them, close more of the opps that you want them to close. At the end of the day, salespeople will just try and close everything that’s in front of them. So if you can give them opportunities that automatically fit what you want for the bigger picture, then it kind of is self self-serving. It will fix a lot of the problems. I think data and what you give them is going to be key.
Joe Ducarreaux: Absolutely. So it is clear communication, incentivization and also penalization in a way. That’s quite an interesting idea you’ve brought up there. So what mechanisms or sources can sales leaders use to inform and provide appropriate forecasting for their plans?
Toby Fellows: Probably any person listening to this that has some kind of sales team or sales function, will have some form of forecasting. But it can be anything from a spreadsheet, a Google Doc, Teams docs. Something that’s shared, I think is key so that ultimately a lot of people can put data into it at one point. If you’re a bit more sophisticated, then obviously you’ve got a CRM, a lot of the platforms will have pipeline management, forecasting management in that. That’s going to obviously be really helpful. If you want to take the next step after that, then you can go external and you can look at specialized pipeline and forecasting software. I’m not going to go and plug any here and now. We have our own internal one, but if you want to buy something off the shelf that just does it all for you, you can just go and buy it. It’s pretty straightforward. Then it’s just making sure that everybody’s bought in and using it and you have to go all in. If you’ve got 80% of people doing it, 20% not, it doesn’t work. Everybody has to be bought in. Whatever you do, everybody has to basically fall in line for it. Otherwise it doesn’t work. Once you’ve got something that everybody’s following on a regular basis, at set times at set updates, then it can flow up. Whether you’ve got a team of 3 or you’ve got a team of 300, it’s the same principle. It flows up. You just have to be more rigid with ensuring that no one works outside of those systems.
Joe Ducarreaux: Then keeping it sort of consistent, I suppose. We mentioned a couple of things in terms of compensation and penalization, that sort of thing to motivate short-term goals into the right direction. What other effective methods are there of achieving that?
Toby Fellows: For the momentum side of things?
Joe Ducarreaux: Yeah.
Toby Fellows: The first goals book I ever read was 15, 20 years ago. It was called Polar Bear Pirates and their quest to reach Fat City. I still remember it now. It’s a tiny little book and it had something in there called SMUGs. Which stands for small, manageable Unseen Goals. When you’ve got a big goal, it can sometimes seem quite impossible to achieve. It’s so big you have to kind of break it down like. How do you eat an elephant? One bit at a time. So SMUGs is about breaking down these goals into very small bite size pieces and focusing individuals on the smaller wins. Because when you hit that small win, it gives you that confidence and momentum to keep going. It’s a lot more manageable. Thinking about the small achievements along the way gives people confidence and motivation to keep pushing forward. So, taking big goals and turning them to short goals is about basically chunking it down. Celebrate the wins! The key thing here is regular updates is so important, getting everybody brought into that one goal. You could ask any sales rep in any one of my teams and they will know the number that they need and they’ll know what the team needs and they’ll know what the office needs and what the US needs. Because we regularly update what their contribution is doing to impact the bigger picture. You’re only as strong as your weakest link. So everybody has to contribute together. Then just keep everyone accountable to it, whatever their individual goals are, make sure they line up with the company goals and help keep people accountable. Small goals. Celebrate the wins. Regular updates. Hold people accountable, everyone.
Joe Ducarreaux: Then seeing your own individual contribution in terms of the bigger picture, I imagine that is hugely motivating as well. What was the name of the book that you mentioned, Toby, what was it called, Polar Bear Pirates?
Toby Fellows: Polar Bear Pirates, yeah. I’m not sure if it’s a well known one, Literally, you can read it in one go and if you are getting into l goals for the first time, it’s the perfect starter book that gives you a really good idea about how to work towards goals and achieve goals. So yes, it’s a good starter book.
Joe Ducarreaux: Fantastic. Well I hope everyone watching this goes away and gets a copy of that. Sounds great. So then what are some common mistakes to try and avoid when you’re trying to maintain your short-term revenue goals while pursuing your long-term strategy?
Toby Fellows: If you think about it, salespeople who are obviously achieving the revenue goals, and humans in general always tend to go towards short term and immediate gratification. You often tend to see people going for the path of least resistance. If you’ve got an individual that’s focusing on their own number and what’s going to be easiest to get towards that, then it can be really difficult to lead people because they’re going in one direction. It’s like what’s in it for them, the business obviously has this different agenda. So what you need to try and do is combine the two. as a business, to make sure that the sales individuals are working towards the business goals as well as their own, so that they tie in and they’re one and the same.
So how do we incentivise individuals? We incentivise on the things that are going to drive towards what the company goal is. So with things like comp plans, incentives and things like that, that they’re going to focus on because it makes them money and gives them recognition and reward. And actually is driving their activity and their actions towards our company goals. We’re all coin operated, especially in sales. So at the end of the day, people will do what is going to generate the most income for them, especially from a sales perspective. Whatever is the least effort to get the most money, they’ll lean into. So you need to really make sure that their compensation and how they’re incentivized is lined up exactly with the company goal. Then it’s a lot smoother. They’ll follow and go towards where you want to go. Often when you think about short-term revenue goals, people get to a deadline, like an end of quarter, end of month and then what happens is… communication goes out the window. People stop talking about the bigger picture because they’re just trying to get the numbers and they also stop meeting. I learned ages ago that actually when things get busy, you need to meet more, not less. So what often happens is people just stop meeting and just be like, “right, cancel everything. Let’s just go full throttle to try and get this thing done.” But that’s really when you actually need to meet more and keep them up to date on where they’re at against what the company is trying to achieve and their incentives and all this kinda stuff. So, there’s some of the pitfalls ie. reps going off renegade to go and make themselves the most money and that goes against the business’s goals. Lack of communication and lack of meetings. So it’s really important that you incentivise them to focus on the things that are going to drive the company. Keep communicating the bigger picture stuff on a regular basis and their impact to it and just keep meeting with them as much as you possibly can. Those are three things.
Joe Ducarreaux: I suppose in the rush, particularly when you say you are coming to the end of quarters or years or whatever, it can almost seem counterintuitive that that’s the time to go, hang on a minute we all need to just keep talking to each other. Taking the team away from the phones, away from their laptops and just say, right let’s just make sure we’re all aligned. It’s all about the alignment, isn’t it?
Toby Fellows: Yeah. 10 minutes of prep can save several hours in a day of unproductive activity. So it’s worth spending time to do it.
Joe Ducarreaux: Absolutely. Toby, I’m pretty much asking everybody about this at the moment just because it fascinates me and it’s sort of a hot topic at the moment. We recently had Benjamin Dennehy on a webinar, the UK’s most hated sales trainer. He was saying that AI was going to replace cold calling. What are your thoughts on AI being included in a sales strategy?
Toby Fellows: Whether it replaces it and how it’s included, I think are two different things. Most of Benjamin’s training that he offers is around cold calling, ironically. So I hope it doesn’t otherwise he might not be a business. Absolutely, it can play a huge part. It’s about how can you work smarter? Things like profiling your audience, understanding what resonates with them. If you could understand the types of people that you are outreaching to, what things are going to be important to them. DISC profiling and things like that and how they receive information, I think is important and you can do a lot of that through AI understanding the businesses and things like that. I think AI can do a really good job with things like data. We’ve talked a little bit about if you can automate your data to quality, to feed the right opportunities to the right people that are the best in field will ultimately help. So if they know, okay, these types of companies are going to require this, they will have these similar problems, then ultimately AI can help with that. Everybody obviously responds differently to different mediums and communication, so AI can help with that. But I don’t think it’ll ever replace human interaction.
Ultimately the key thing here is maybe you won’t be able to cold call at some point. There might be legislation that you can’t do it, which will be a shame but at the end of the day, we use multiple methods of outreach. Both cold calling, through LinkedIn and email and all these other types. Even today, this is a form of outreach, but human interaction I think is key. You don’t really understand an individual or business unless you’re actually speaking to them and asking good questions. So ,my response will be that, yeah, it can help and will continue to help. I don’t think it will replace it in itself, if I’m being honest.
Joe Ducarreaux: As is becoming the catchphrase of these webinars and podcasts that I do …..people buy from people. So it’s going to be very difficult. While AI can mimic that, it’s going to be very difficult to create and foster that, I imagine.
Toby Fellows: Yeah, people listen to who they like and they buy from who they trust and you can’t trust without having that relationship. So I think it’ll always be (inaudible).
Joe Ducarreaux: Absolutely. So Toby, if you could offer up one key takeaway for our audience today on closing deals quicker. What is that one golden piece of advice?
Toby Fellows: To have one thing is a tricky one because there’s a ton that I could talk about. Closing deals quicker. I think it’s about making sure you’ve got the right opportunities in front of you, that the business’s goals are ultimately lined in with the individual’s goals, so you’re working together. Understanding pain points in a bit……that’s not one point, I’m sorry I can’t help myself. If you understand a business’s problems, then you can understand how to solve them. Without that you can’t really build value. At the end of the day, if you can show that you can solve a problem that they have quickly, that creates urgency. Make sure you’ve got all the right people that you need to be able to kind of come to a decision. So I know that’s not one, that’s cheating, but it isn’t just one answer. You’ve got to have these pieces of the puzzle and if you’ve got them all right, then you’ll be able to create urgency and close lots of deals really quickly.
Joe Ducarreaux: Well, I’m going to let you off with that one, Toby. I’m going to let you cheat your way through our answer, absolutely no problem at all. Toby, thank you so much for joining me for this B2B Sales Playbook webinar. Thank you everybody who’s watched this and we’ll see you again very, very soon for another Lead Forensics webinar. Cheers.
Toby Fellows: Thanks, Joe.
Well there you go, that was Toby Fellows with How To Close B2B Deals Quicker.
Here are our key takeaways:-
Use gamification, incentives and visual tools to meet weekly quotas and create urgency.
Break down your big goals into short term goals, celebrate your wins and provide regular updates to the rest of your team.
Hold everybody in your team accountable.
Ensure that individual goals align with company goals and incentivise individuals to drive towards company goals.
Identify who the decision makers are amongst your prospects using tools like Linked in and asking the right questions.
Thanks to Toby for joining me for this conversation and thank you for listening. Please subscribe to the B2B Sales Playbook Podcasts from wherever you get your podcasts and give us a 5 star rating wherever possible.
We’ll be back next week with another excellent B2B Sales Playbook podcast.
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