What to do when prospects get ‘stuck’ in your Xero bookkeeping sales pipeline
Have you ever received an inquiry from a prospective client, only to get the silent treatment or a “thanks, but no thanks” when you try to follow up? Sometimes, no matter how professional you are or how competitive your rates are, some prospects will decide that you are just not the right bookkeeper for them – or they are just not ready to make a decision!
Here are some ways that you can improve your conversion rate by helping your prospects to become ‘unstuck’ and become happy, satisfied clients.
Show Them You Care
In an effort to stay professional and maintain a business-like demeanour it’s often easy to lose sight of the basic factors that contribute to a warm and trusted working relationship. Although our clients and prospects are professional associates they are still people—and ultimately, people want to work with others who share the same values.
Evaluate your current approach:
How do you currently respond to client enquiries?
- Do you reply to all messages within 24 hours?
- What method do you use – phone, email, sms, in person?
How do you introduce yourself?
- Do you inspire confidence in your knowledge and expertise?
- Do you ask for permission to proceed? e.g. “Is this a good time to talk about your bookkeeping requirements?”
- Do you warm up with small talk, such as asking how they found you or where they are located?
- Do you launch into a spiel about your services, or do you ask questions about their business first?
What signals are you receiving from the prospect?
- Is your prospect relaxed and forthcoming with information about their needs, or are you having to tease it out of them?
- Is your prospect asking clarifying questions or asking for more information?
- Are they indicating interest via verbal cues (“Uh-huh, OK, sure”), body language (nodding, maintaining eye contact) or in writing (immediate responses, next steps and anticipated time-frames for a decision)?
- Has your prospect lost interest? Are they avoiding your phone calls, not returning messages or replying to emails? Perhaps they are giving you noncommittal responses such as “I’ll get back to you”, or “I’ll think about it.”
When your prospects know that you genuinely care about their business they are much more likely to be forthcoming about their problems and their reasons for contacting a bookkeeper. Put yourself in their shoes and try to understand the situation from their point of view.
Use listening skills to learn about the prospect’s problem and to convey your understanding.
- Encourage them to elaborate on key points by asking questions, nodding and using verbal punctuation such as “I see, OK, right, uh-huh”.
- Respond reassuringly to emotions such as frustration, stress and confusion. If a prospect is worried about a looming ATO deadline, let them know that it’s perfectly normal to feel this way under these circumstances and that you are here to help.
- Avoid interruptions. Let your prospect vent about their business issues and then confirm your understanding with clarifying questions and relevant comments.
Stay focused on solutions
- Maintain confidence in your abilities by keeping the dialogue focused on how you can help your prospect. Refer back to their description of the problem and re-state the key issues, outlining actions and recommended next steps.
- Keep it real. Be realistic about expectations in terms of time-frames, costs and potential challenges.
Practice your approach
- Write a script for your responses to new prospects. You might decide to have a prompt card for telephone calls and a template for email enquiries.
- Role-play your approach with an objective third party and ask them for feedback.
Coach yourself on areas for improvement and adjust your approach accordingly.
- Be yourself. A warm and natural approach is easier than pretending to be something you’re not. Your prospects will quickly see through you if you’re not genuine.
Get To Know Your Client
When you take the time to find out more about your clients and prospects, it is easier to empathise with their problems and they will be more likely to share information. It also makes your working relationships smoother and more enjoyable, leading to long-term productive partnerships.
- What is important to them? What is keeping them awake at night?
- What is their communication style? Do they volunteer information and voice their objections openly, or do you need to ask questions and offer suggestions?
Asking the right questions will uncover hidden objections that they may be too polite to state.
- Ask open-ended questions that encourage them to talk, rather than questions that result in a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer.
Forget About Selling
Forget about the product or service you are trying to sell. Your objective should be to find out what is holding your prospect back and address their concerns one at a time. Only then should you ask for their business.
By eliminating client objections and providing solutions to problems, it will be a natural progression from a ‘no’ or a ‘maybe’, to a ‘yes’.
Re-think Your Offering
A customer’s needs can drive product and package marketing development based on their needs.
- Get creative and think outside the box. Is there a different way that you can bundle your offering to better serve the client’s needs?
- How will you describe your offering in your ads and marketing messages? Think about what speaks to the needs of your prospects and what will capture their attention.
- Remain flexible. You want your bookkeeping services to fit with your client’s business, not the other way around.
- Be solutions focused. We’ve mentioned this several times already, but if you can master this attitude the rest will fall into place.
Managing your sales pipeline doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. A simple spreadsheet will do the trick. By understanding where your prospects are stalling, you can employ these proven techniques to help them move forward through to the next stage of the buying process.
The most important thing is to help your prospects buy from you by showing that you care, and by helping them solve their bookkeeping problems.
Find Bookkeeping Clients by Helping Them to Solve Problems
Not all clients will have needs that fit within the predefined service packages offered by your business, however that doesn’t mean that you have to lose them as a client.
Xero Bookkeeping—Sales Pipeline and Rapport Building
You speak with some prospective bookkeeping clients and they seem very interested, however when you ask your prospective clients for a decision they say “thanks, but no thanks.” Is that the end? Not quite.