Batting cleanup means that a strong hitter on a baseball team, usually in the 4th spot in the batting lineup, hits a home run and “cleans up the bases of other players waiting to score”. In other words, batters number 1, 2 and 3 are meant to get at least a single each and get on base thereby gradually being pushed around to load the bases. Enter the cleanup batter who ideally hits a homerun, which—when the bases are loaded is called a grand slam—resulting in 4 runs scored. That’s the idea anyway, when everything goes right.
So, why am I equating your sales closers to cleanup hitters? Because it’s important to remember that there are three very important previous “batters” in your company that have to be playing their part in order for the sales closer to do his or hers. The cleanup / sales closer can only do his or her job when the first three have done theirs. Let’s take a closer look:
Batter 1 / Value Proposition & Offering
Don’t even step onto the baseball field if you, as a company, can’t properly articulate the value of what you’re selling to your market. You must have a clear, understandable value proposition in place that outlines the benefits in a way that connects to the specific pain points of your prospects.
For example, if you’re selling software, your value proposition should be about benefits like time savings or efficiencies, automation or cost reduction, as in “using our platform will save you 60% of your time spent on XYZ”. It should not focus on detailed feature/functionality and point-by-point comparison/contrasts with your competitors (that comes much further down the road, if at all). Trying to sell enterprise software because “you can now sort the XYZ reports by date in section 23 under settings, filters, sorting options, …” (ugh) will not work.
A good test if you have this right is to ask your team to each explain your value proposition to you in 30 seconds or less. If you get different answers, different priorities, different areas of focus—stay off the field. If you hear people talking about new features added to your product or service recently, watch out, they might be missing the big picture value. Gather your team together and create a top 5 list of benefits list that speaks to the overall value that your customers are talking about. Why did they choose you? Why do they keep coming back to you? This message is what you’ll take to market. Get this straight out of the gate and all efforts downstream will benefit.
“Base hit to left field.”
Batter 2 / Marketing & Messaging
With value proposition in hand, it’s time for Marketing to send it out the door. Your marketing team is up to bat next, leveraging multiple channels and leading with key facets of your message to educate your market on the benefits realized with an offering like yours. Don’t oversell here, just educate. The key to success is to make a connection with your target market and demonstrate that you have a solid understanding of their top issues. You’re building trust here, letting them know that you’ve spent the time needed to isolate key pain points and align your offering with each. Offer quality messaging. Offer real value and actionable suggestions that can be tested and proven.
The quality and value of these early messages can greatly affect your prospects’ perception of your product or service. Poorly-executed, unprofessional marketing can undermine a good product. High quality content—scrubbed of any and all unwanted marketing babble—will deliver the highest return on investment.
“Batter up, single to left field. Two on base.”
Batter 3 / Pre-Sales / Lead Generation & Nurturing
Now it’s time for pre-sales / inside sales to step up to the plate. This is the all-important interpretation phase. The first chance you have to gather specific feedback from your prospect and interpret your value proposition into terms that align with their needs.
In other words, take your top 5 benefits and show the prospect how they relate specifically to their unique needs. Interpret the value, show the steps that the prospect will take to solve each problem, show how others in similar situations have leveraged your offering to overcome these same challenges.
Online tours, case studies, face-to-face introductory meetings—all are great opportunities to have this type of exchange while continuing to build on the trust from previous batters. Build rapport. Let them know that your solution aligns well with their needs.
“Swing and a line drive dropping into short center for a base hit. Bases loaded!”
Batter 4 / Sales Closing / Cleanup
OK, it’s go time. Time for your closers to do their job. Bat cleanup, hit a homerun and clear the bases. With the previous three teammates each doing their job, the closer has the best chance to succeed. By this point, you’ve established a solid foundation of understanding and trust for your brand and your value proposition upon which the closer can do his or her job.
Now comes all of the curve balls from the prospect: comparisons to competitors, requests for unique pricing options, specialized terms—you name it, the pitches keep coming. The closer’s job is to give and take those pitches well enough to continue the storyline started by the first three batters and drive toward the right set of tangible next steps that make the prospect finally agree.
At some point in these negotiations, points made by all previous batters will come into discussion. When they’re all consistent and well-aligned with the corporate line and closer’s strategy, the prospect will have the highest confidence in your company, and therefore in your offering.
“Swing and a long fly out to left field. It’s going…going…It’s outta hear! Grand slam home run!”
You’d be surprised how many companies we work with who are missing batters 1, 2 or 3—and in some cases, all three. They’re often, consequently, not realizing as many sales closes as they expected to have. The numbers aren’t matching the forecast. Ask your sales closers how often their negotiations are sidelined by confusion or disconnect on the part of the prospect. Prospects not fully understanding the offering, getting mixed messages between marketing collateral and what the closing sales person is saying, missing one or more of the key value benefits or differentiators for your company. Any of these are bad news and will frustrate your sales people and contribute to lower revenue.
So, take stock in your team. Do you have batters 1, 2 and 3 ready to go? Ask your customers to review your messaging. Get friends and partners to give you honest feedback about the continuity and clarity of your messaging. Start regular meetings working on this very strategy to ensure you have all the pieces in place. You’re certain to see the benefits of putting the time in on such an exercise.
If you want some input from us, we’ve helped many companies assess, correct, tune and install these critical components. Give us a call or visit BizDelta.com to learn more about how we help companies let their cleanup batters hit grand slam homeruns.