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February 12, 2015
The Three Signs a Deal Will Close
Sales execs used to rely on "gut and golf" to close deals, but today that's just not enough in an environment where only 30% of qualified leads typically close. Thankfully, data science can increase those odds dramatically. Machine learning algorithms constantly processing deal progress behind the scenes can deliver to the modern sales exec insights to help reps close deals faster, managers drive more revenue, and VPs deliver more accurate forecasts.
It sounds like a perfect world, right? The trick is to use data from CRM systems, emails, calendars, social media, and more, to identify actionable best practices that reduce risk and increase the probability that a deal will close.
If you’re interested in three concrete ways to coach reps to increase revenue, read on. We took a look at over 1.5 billion anonymized deals across a range of our large to mid-sized B2B customers, and our advanced data science identified the following selling priorities that made the difference:
1. Is your prospect looking at competitors? Double down.
What’s the compelling sign a customer is serious? A competitor in the running. Many salespeople see this as a red flag — they fear competition means the customer isn’t interested in your company. But data shows the opposite is true. A prospect exploring competitive offerings — even setting up a bake off — indicates they are serious about buying. It likely means there’s a line item set aside in the budget and that decision makers and executives are on board with the purchase. So now, it's just a question of what company wins. When a competitor enters the mix, it’s time to double down and make sure you’re the one who closes the deal.
2. Have at least 3 anchors.
Anchors are employees or execs at your prospect who support you. They matter. Data science confirms that having at least three different anchors in the deal means a significant boost in close rates. They can be on the technical or business side. When you’re not around, they are your cheerleaders. And they are insiders who update you on deal progress, issues that could derail your win, and how to navigate political landmines. We might instinctively assume, “More friends are good.” And not long ago, getting more specific than that wasn’t practical. But by applying data science to email and meeting flow, we learn three is a critical “knee in the curve.” Working to secure at least three anchors helps keep deals on track and competitors at bay.
3. Win as a team… and use the big guns.
When a sales rep signals a deal is at risk — either because of data science (like the Clari Score) or simply good selling instinct — it’s time for action. But what? Many reps pride themselves on independence and prefer to handle issues themselves rather than ask for help — particularly from their boss. Unfortunately, a go-it-alone tendency puts deals at higher risk. We’re still early in this analysis, so consider this a sneak peek, but it’s clear inviting (the right) company exec to join a rep at a pitch can consistently move a deal from yellow to green. Plus, it feels great to have your manager doing something other than asking for a forecast update. Both rep and execs benefit from windshield time, and they’ll close more business together.
Sales leaders can start putting these three findings to work immediately. But those aren’t the only three signs that a deal will — or won’t — close.
I’ll end with a little self-promotion I hope you’ll take in the spirit of helping you to beat your numbers and avoid nasty surprises. Give us five minutes to expose your at-risk deals and help you nail your number. Sign up for our free pipeline analysis and after a 5-minute setup we can identify which of the biggest deals in your pipeline have less than a 50% chance of closing. There are bound to be a few surprises, so let’s get started.