Still need to hit Q4 sales quota? 6 ways to close deals before it’s too late

by Steli Efti

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You only have 13 more days to clean out your pipeline in 2016 and turn it into revenue.

Yet, prospects at this time will naturally want to push the decision off to next year. They have many “urgent” last minute things they want to get done. They also have difficulty getting buy-in from other stakeholders in the organization since the stakeholders have their own end-of-year things they need to get done too.

While the end of the year means more distractions, there’s also more opportunity. Many companies need to use up this year’s budget and finalize next year’s budget. As a result, there’s a 5x increase in spending in the final week of the fiscal year compared to spending in the average week.

Here are 6 things you can do to push people through to the finish line!

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1. Save your prospects time in 2017

The B2B sales process can take months. And for many companies, it’s only getting longer—53% of B2B buyers reported that the length of their purchase cycle has increased. You can either watch prospects delay making a decision or help them finish one more task before the year ends.

There was a reason they wanted to buy: They believed your product could provide value to their business. Tell them if they purchase now, you can help them import their data, invite users, or create a workflow to kickstart January 2017. Otherwise, they’ll waste that month on purchasing or onboarding.

2. Make them an offer they can't refuse

Run a special end of year promotion, or give the prospect a special deal. There are four kinds of incentives SaaS businesses can offer:

  1. Discount: "If you buy before the end of the year, you'll get a 10% discount, so you'll save [x] dollars next year per seat that you buy now."
  2. Special features or higher tier plans: "If you buy now, you're going to get the business version of our product for the basic price plan." It's basically also a discount—the difference is that you increase the value rather than lower the price.
  3. Buy 1, get 2: "If you buy by the end of the year, you'll get a free seat for every seat that you purchase. So if you buy three seats, you'll actually get six seats." Buy 1, get 1 free works for SaaS businesses too :)
  4. Special services: "If you buy this week, you're going to get our Advanced Customer Acquisition training package for free." Think about special support packages, consulting packages, training, onboarding ... whatever it is. Make any kind of special service to help them succeed with your SaaS product free.  

However, don’t use discounts as a crutch all the time. According to research by Price Intelligently, while SaaS discounts can help you reach your sales goals, there are drawbacks. Customers who receive aggressive discounts are more price sensitive, churn at a higher rate, and have a lower lifetime value.

The best deals have a limited time frame and target prospects who are on the fence.  

If you want to learn how to get more customers without discounts or short-term tactics, get your free copy of our soon-to-be-released B2B customer acquisition guide for startups!

3. Save them from upcoming price increases

As your product grows and matures, and you offer more value, you're probably going to increase its price.  Let existing customers and prospects know in advance. It's a great incentive for them to make a quick buying decision so that they can lock in at the current (lower) pricing.

When we increased the prices for our sales CRM, we grandfathered existing customers and current trial accounts. We also gave them the option to add new user seats at the old prices if they did it within the 14-day period before the price increase. However, after 14 days, they would have to pay the new (higher) prices.

This led to a huge bump in sold seats for Close.io during the 14-day period and our average customer lifetime value increased by over 10%. Customers saved money and we closed more deals. That’s a win-win.

4. Give them exclusive limited access

If your product is new, or you release a major new plan, you can invite prospects to a limited alpha or beta.

For instance, before we started Close.io, we ran ElasticSales, an on-demand sales team for startups. We gave ourselves one month to find a customer. Yet, by telling prospects we were running a limited beta with only two spots, we had seven companies that wanted to pay us money in only 2 weeks.  

Tell your prospect:

  • "This looks like a really great fit, but I want you to know that we are going to run a limited alpha—which means that only 10 companies will get access to our product. We currently have around 40 companies interested in participating. We're now trying to identify which ones will be the best candidates for this alpha so that we'll be able to support and turn them into massive success stories."
  • "You'll have to make a decision within ____ (the next x days/weeks) because we'll launch the alpha on ____ (state a date)."
  • "It's first-come, first-served. So whenever one company that we believe to be a great fit decides to go ahead, they get the next limited spot."
  • "We only have four more spots left, let's make sure that we don't lose this opportunity. So let me give you all the information and support you need to be able to make a decision as quickly as possible."

By limiting access to your product, you create scarcity, which creates urgency to make a decision and enhances the perceived value of your offer.

5. Ask your manager to reach out (backchannel sales)

Tried everything and still at a roadblock? Don’t go at it alone. Get help by asking your manager (or someone else) to follow up with the prospect.

Prospects typically distrust salespeople, assuming that salespeople only want to make a quick dollar. Trying harder to convince them that your solution is valuable and worth buying can backfire. They’ll just think, “Of course, what a typical salesperson.” Backchannel sales, or selling by involving other people, works because it can reassure prospects they’re not being tricked or conned.

Having your manager follow up with a prospect is simple. Tell your manager, “This deal needs a little nudge. Can you help me? Please send this prospect an email, you can just copy and paste the following.”

Make sure the email contains the context around the deal, the contact details, and the copy-and-paste ready message so they only need to hit send. 20 seconds of their time. That’s all it takes to possibly close a deal faster.

6. When nothing else works—ask for a personal favor

You’d be surprised how many times salespeople successfully ask the prospect to buy now as a personal favor. “You’d make my year if you just pull the trigger now, even if payment starts in January. Do me a favor and help me make this the greatest year of my career and buy now!”

Asking a prospect for help shifts the conversation’s dynamics. They aren’t used to salespeople opening up to them this way. By putting your guard down, they’ll put theirs down too.

Missed pipeline in December is your kickstart in January

With all this pushing to convert your pipeline, never forget that you only want to close successful customers and that lost opportunities in December are fresh opportunities in January.

Make sure to follow up like a champ and you’ll turn a lot of these postponed deals in 2016 into big deals in 2017.

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Recommended reading

SaaS sales: How to create urgency to close deals NOW
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Prospect says they'll buy soon? Ask this question!
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