Most people have heard of the SMART technique when it comes to setting goals – make them specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.
For example: I want to reach out to prospect [x] to discuss [y] by the end of the week.
Having well-thought out sales goals helps guide your planning and keep your focus on what matters. As shown in the above example, we’re not just wanting to reach out but we already have a topic in mind and know exactly what we want to cover.
Without well-defined sales goals for an interaction, it will quickly become clear to your prospective customer that you are wasting their time as you don’t know what you want to gain from the conversation. So, how do we actually have goal-driven conversations that boost deal progress and help you close more deals?
Though the ebb and flow of a conversation can be unpredictable, there are some things you can do to ensure your conversations stay goal-oriented and help you move your deal forward.
Here are our top four tips for having goal-driven conversations:
- Define an actionable sales goal.
- Communicate your sales goal clearly.
- Ask your prospect for their goals.
- Be prepared to summarize.
1. Define an Actionable Sales Goal.
In B2B sales, a sales cycle can last 4-6 months and your sales goals for each deal will likely follow the same formula.
1) Qualify a lead.
2) Convert a lead into a customer.
But, what does that mean for your day to day work? How do you actually go about converting a lead into a client and moving through your sales cycle efficiently?
Having specific and actionable sales goals helps guide your work and ensure you don’t get overwhelmed in the process. Don’t just think about the end result, think about how you’re going to get there. For example, if your overall goal is to close a deal, what needs to happen at every step? What information do you need to get from your prospect, and what do you need to work out on your side?
At Ciara, we like to use deal maps. Deal maps give you an overview of your entire sales cycle and break it down into stages (e.g. prospecting, qualifying) and topics (e.g. budget, timeline). By creating your own deal map and identifying exactly what you want to cover and when, you always know what your goals are at any given point and you understand how they’re contributing to the bigger picture.
By making smaller, more attainable, actionable sales goals, you can ensure that each conversation is truly goal-driven and driving the conversation forward.
2. Communicate Your Goal Clearly.
You and your prospective customer will both have an idea of what you want to get out of a conversation or potential deal. Avoid any confusion further down the line by clarifying your sales goals at the start.
Setting and managing your prospect’s expectations will make them feel more involved in the process and help build trust. Rather than being ambiguous and simply letting the prospect guide the deal progress, establish your goals and keep everyone aligned.
At the start of the process, and of each conversation, just take a moment to state what you’re hoping to get from the dialogue. For example, “Today I’d like to discuss [x] and [y] and show you how [z].”
Not only will this make your sales prospect feel more comfortable and assured, stating your goals explicitly also makes you more accountable. This way, at the end, everyone involved will be able to decide whether those goals were met or not and how productive your conversation was.
3. Ask Your Prospect for Their Goals.
Just like you have goals for your sales meetings, so does your prospect. Find out exactly what it is that they want to gain from your conversation(s) to make sure that everyone’s time is being spent as efficiently as possible.
This will make your prospect feel listened to and understood, and it’ll make it easier for you to plan future interactions. If you know exactly what your prospect is looking for, you can target your future communications specifically to their wants and make sure you’re working towards something that fits everyone’s needs.
You can do this as early as the first conversation when you ask about their own work and professional goals, as well as further down the line when it comes to finalising a deal. By fostering this open communication, you will create a better relationship with your prospect and are more likely to boost deal progress and close more deals.
4. Be Prepared to Summarize.
As mentioned in our 2nd tip, stating your sales goals holds you accountable for actually achieving them. One way of making sure (and showing) you have achieved them is to summarize what’s been discussed in each conversation. At the end, just give a brief summary of your main takeaways and action points for next time. Doing this will show your prospect that you have a plan that you are sticking to and are using their time efficiently. By the end of the conversation, you should have:
- stated your goals.
- shown that/how you have achieved the goals.
- highlighted what still needs to be addressed.
- expressed what steps need to be taken in order to progress the deal further.
You’ll be much more aware of sticking to your sales goals if you know you have to show how you’ve addressed them at the end!
In addition, this is a great opportunity to check that you and your prospect are still on the same page. They can say whether they agree with your summary or not and whether they have any next steps they would like to suggest. This will help ensure your next conversation is goal-driven too as everyone will have a clear idea of exactly what needs to be covered.
As long as your goals are clear and openly-communicated, your deal will keep progressing and your prospect will feel more comfortable with your process.