Miika Varjonen is the epitome of sales at Serviceform. He looks like a closer, dresses like a closer, and works like a closer. In this blog, our sales champion shares his best sales tips so you too can become a closer.
Miika is the Chief Revenue Officer at Serviceform. He joined Serviceform in October 2020 and during his first 6 months, his hit rate was 100%. He’s been with Serviceform for more than 2 years now and still maintains a hit rate above 80%.
Starting off in sales like any other sales rep, Miika rose to become the sales director of Visma, one of Finland’s biggest tech consultancy companies. Today he uses his vast sales experience to train Serviceform’s up-and-coming star account managers. In this exclusive interview with Miika, he shares a few secrets from his 15-year-long career.
Miika’s sales tips part 1: Trust is the key to getting through that door
If you learn the 7 steps in sales process, you have a gameplan to potentially turn any prospect into a paying customer. But before you go into that important chat with your prospect, you need to make sure your sales meeting agenda is rock solid. If you’re not sure how to prepare the perfect sales meeting agenda, look no further than the 7 steps in sales process. So what are these 7 steps?
So the first step of the 7 steps in sales process is booking a meeting with the prospect. You can get to the booking stage in a few different ways. It could be through a cold call, referral, or even a lead you’d generated through marketing activities.
- How to book a sales meeting
During the initial conversation with your prospect, keep three things in mind: Building rapport between you and the prospect, building company trust, and booking a sales meeting.
Pro sales tip: Don’t worry too much about selling and explaining your product during the initial conversation. The only thing you should focus on is making sure prospects say yes to a meeting. Don’t expect anything else.
Question: What are your tips on booking a meeting during the initial cold call?
Miika: When you take cold calls, always be confident in yourself and your product. Give them a very brief introduction to what you have to offer and tell them that you’ve got something cool for them. Trust me, the only thing anyone will ever remember about that call is the name of your company.
After that, always move the customer’s attention to their calendar. Not your products or services. Always to the calendar. Because booking that sales meeting is what matters the most. If you divert their attention to their calendar, they start thinking about their calendar and what times are available rather than your solution. Then you get 1 meeting in the bag.
- How to get prospects to trust you and your company
Question: How do you get prospects to trust in you? And in your company?
Miika: It doesn’t matter whether your prospect is cold as ice or warm as coffee, you need to make sure that they like you first in order for you to have any chance of getting them to like your product. Be flexible with your prospect and make them feel that they’re important to you and your company. This way you can start building trust between you, your company, and your prospect.
But these are only the first few of the 7 steps in sales process. Now comes the most important step to close the deal: Question time!
Miika’s sales tips part 2: Question time
Question time is the part of your sales meeting agenda where you ask your prospect questions and solve how exactly through which you can clarify exactly how your products and services can help them.
According to Miika, this is the most critical step to close the deal. This is where you fill your pockets with ammunition to counter their arguments. So question time should always be one of the most important parts in your sales meeting agenda.
But you need to approach question time cautiously during your sales meeting. You don’t want to come across too aggressive nor should you be too easy on them. You need to strike the right balance between being thorough and letting your prospect feel at ease. Always try to talk and come up with ideas with the customer; be on the same side of the table, to say, rather than the opposite side.
Question: How should you approach the questions part of your sales meeting agenda?
Miika: Question time should not be an interview. It should be a conversation. You need to make sure that they like you and they want to answer your questions. Understand how your prospect wants to work and why, and try to dive into their state of mind. This will help you to build a strong rapport with them.
When you start your sales meeting, your prospect knows nothing about your product nor do they care too much about it. Once you finish the meeting, more often than not they’ll just end up forgetting everything.
The goal of question time in your sales meeting agenda is to wake your prospect up and get them to care about your product. An important thing to remember is never to assume your prospect’s problems. Try to dig as much as possible to find any untapped potential between your prospect’s problems and your product’s solutions.
- Sales tips from a pro: What you should ask your prospects during a sales meeting
Question: What exactly should you be asking in a sales meeting?
Miika: When you’re starting question time, the first thing you need to do is figure out whether the person you’re speaking to is a decision maker. Ask them if they can make the decision to purchase your product and if not, ask them what that process is going to be like and how long it will take. Asking this question gives you a clear expectation of who’s involved in the decision and when that decision will be made.
Question: What other questions should a sales person ask their prospect during the questions portion of the sales meeting agenda?
Miika: Another thing that you must include in your sales meeting agenda is to ask the prospect if they have any previous experience with a similar product to what you’re offering. If they do, ask them what they thought about it so you know what their perception is about your product.
And the main piece of your question time puzzle should be asking questions about your prospect’s requirements to figure out what opportunities and potential you can create for them with your product. Dig deeper into the customer and you can find a lot of things they can fix. Point out all opportunities that you can create so you can wake your customer up and get them to care about your solution.
- Sales tips from a pro: ‘My solution can create 11 new opportunities for you!’
Even if you do everything else perfectly, if your questions don’t properly cover all bases, the rest of your 7 steps in sales process are bound to fail.
At the end of question time, count how many issues you can fix for them and tell them you can provide a solution that will fix x number of issues for your prospect. That will make them want to listen to you when you get to the product presentation phase of your sales meeting agenda.
- Sales tips from a pro: Figure out if they can afford your product
If your product or service is B2B, a very important thing you need to figure out during question time are their numbers, for example, their average deal size. That way you can gauge how much ROI they’ll generate from your solution to close a deal.
If you have this information on hand, even if your prospect tells you they can’t afford your product or that they need to negotiate the price, you have a strong counter argument ready to go.
You need to hold every customer's hand and ask them questions about everything. ‘What do you think about that? What do you think about this?’ Always ask questions so they’re always a part of the meeting. And by asking more and more questions, you can come up with answers to things they may ask you later on in the meeting.
Miika’s sales tips part 3: Solutions, actions, and closing
You’ve asked your questions and now it’s time to close the deal. But before that you need to present your product to the client. Remember AIDA? That’s attention, interest, decision, and action, if you’re unfamiliar.
AIDA is a common marketing model. But Miika says by following AIDA, sales people too can benefit. After all, you’ve already grabbed their attention by asking hard-hitting questions during your question time. And piqued their interest by showing them that you can fix their issues.
Miika: AIDA is not the only model I follow. It’s only one way to think about the sales process. There are many quite old and similar models, but by combining them and bringing them to this time and day, you can keep your sales process very simple, efficient, and scalable.
I always want to be as honest and open as possible, and to respect the customer and appreciate the time given by the customer. It's good to quickly state the goal of the meeting, and it's never a secret that the only goal of a sales meeting is to establish a customer relationship with the customer – and close the deal. If the customer says ‘yes’ to this, you’re in the right direction.
- Close the deal
Now comes the most important part of the 7 steps in sales process: Closing the deal. With your tailored product presentation, you create a desire in your prospect to buy your product. But it’s not done yet.
Question: How important is it to get an answer from your prospect as soon as possible?
Miika: You need to do your best to get an answer from your prospect right away. Because the customer's interest about your solution goes up during a meeting, and then it drops really fast right after the meeting. They forget about you after a day.
So it’s important to get an answer – even if it’s a no! Miika’s theory is that if they tell you they’ll call you back or will send you an email in a week, that’s basically a no! You should only ever accept three answers: Yes, no, or a new meeting in your calendar where you will make a final decision. Never take ‘maybe’ for an answer.
Moral of the story is don’t wait another week. Get their answer as soon as possible and move to the final stage of the 7 steps in sales process, which is action. As soon as the customer gives you their okay, don’t stall. Sign that contract and get it over with.
Summarising Miika’s sales tips
As discussed, Miika’s version of the 7 steps in sales process includes two crucial steps: Question time, and the solution. Always remember to listen to your prospects. Listen to their story and their problems, and you'll find what they need help with.
Grab your prospect’s attention and pique their interest with the questions you ask during question time. Remember that the road to closing a deal is full of doors and your prospect is always looking to escape through one of them. So shut them tight with the right questions and answers. And make them want to stay by presenting attractive solutions that will solve their problems.
Also, present a solution that fits the prospect you’re talking to. Make them feel you have a tailor-made solution for them. And then close the deal. ASAP. We hope all of you can always be closing, or ABC! But believe in yourself, and you sure as hell can be.