It’s my experience in studying and coaching sales people that the majority do not follow up effectively. In fact, I have experienced it myself as a buyer with sales people who call me, leave a message, and never follow up as they say they are going to or worse, never follow up at all with a second, third or fourth attempt. I find it odd. Did you know that according to the most recent studies that 72% of all sales are made only after the 5th attempt while 95% of all sales people give up after the 4th? Sadly ironic.
Every professional athlete knows that follow through is critical to their success. Just try hitting a golf ball or tennis ball without follow through and you will experience failure to connect. Knowing that follow though, or follow up is a critical component to our professional success, how can we ensure it’s done properly? Here are 5 ideas to try:
- Plan Your Next Step in Advance – Every call I make has a plan A (to close the business), and a plan B (to end the call with a clear follow up plan). And every call ends with a clear call tom action including the date and time of the next call. The client’s next steps are always aligned with the Plan B I set out for the meeting. Your planned next steps must be considered before the meeting starts. Take the time to think about what you want to accomplish and how you plan to accomplish this during the meeting. Make notes. Yes, you heard me right. I am suggesting you right out some questions and comments in the prospect file for reference of what you want to accomplish during the meeting. Just 10 minutes of prep done before you speak to the client can increase your calls effectiveness by as much as 47%
- Get Engaged – Do not end any meeting or phone call without a clear understanding of who will do what by when. Confirm your agreements in email within 24 hours of the meeting ending. Fuzzy intentions produce fuzzy results. Clear intentions produce clear results. For a sample of the template we use to get engaged by gaining agreement with the client, make sure to download the Engagement Letter Template from your secure lead-up membership page
- Always Add Value – Never follow up just to “check in” or “see if you’re ready to move forward.” These are weak statements that will not help to close business. Lead with value and your defined, agreed on next steps (see 1 and 2 above). Follow up by reminding the client you “are calling because the last time you met….” When the customer sees you are acting on your promised next steps, they will start to trust you. When they trust you, they will be more likely to buy from you.
- Reduce Cancelled Appointments – In order to reduce the likelihood that a client will cancel confirm all appointments with a little something of value. It could be educational or something fun. For instance, I coach a fortune 100 sales rep who confirms all his office appointments (appointments where the clients come to him) with a $5 gas card. Another software sales rep confirms his appointments with a reprinted article from Harvard Business Review that is relevant to his client’s business. Whatever your clientele, pick a small gift that is relevant for business or pleasure. It will show that you were listing to the conversation. Can’t afford to pay for a small gift? Use a hand written Thanks you card thanking the client in advance for making time in their schedule for you.
- Know the Truth – Too many sales people rely on subjective information because they leave client appointments too embarrassed to ask for clarification. Clients often give us “fuzzy phrases” such as too high, not enough, lots, etc. They give us no’s disguised as maybe’s and they give us incomplete answers. I don’t think most of our prospects misrepresent the truth to us on purpose. I do think that sales people don’t do their job correctly by not asking for clarification. If you catch yourself saying “I think the customer wants X” or “I think the customers is interested in Y” You do not have a clear understanding of the truth. It’s time to go back and ask the customer what they really want so you can say “I know that customer wants X”. Do NOT settle for fuzzy phrases, incomplete answers, and subjective comments. Walk away from every call and every appointment knowing exactly where you stand with your client and exactly what the next follow-up step is. Knowing the truth, you’ll know what to do next. Follow up becomes much easier.
Your action step this week is to apply all 5 of these steps to you next meeting. Plan ahead, get engaged, know the truth and work to increase your closing ratios. I know they will work for you; all you must do is implement.
Dedicated to increasing your sales,
2 responses to “Closing the deal at each step of the way”
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I’m working on a sales strategy to engage my client in the sales process. I’m a new account manager for an integrator/machine builder. We receive RFQ’s daily from our customers who are located in Canada, USA and Mexico. Currently we receive an RFQ and begin working on a quote. Once completed by an estimator the quote is e-mailed and follow-up call is made to review the quote. I‘ve learned during quote review calls we’ve missed valuable information and our customers input.
I’m working on a collaborative strategy. I now schedule a webex each time we receive an RFQ. The estimator is part of the webex. The estimators like being part of the process and they are learning what’s important to the customer. We review the RFQ, prepare questions and then call the customer to review the requirements and discuss our approach. I’ve learned we get great information from the customer and the customer becomes part of the solution we architect together. A follow-up e-mail with the highlights of the webex is helpful confirm what we discussed and our understanding. It tells the customer we listened and understood what we heard. I also learn how much time we should spend on the quote.
We do not send a quote without first having a second webex to present the quote. I’ve started to build a library of slides that highlight our various strengths that differentiate our company. I’ve found this approach works well getting our customers attention for a very focused sales presentation.
Early feedback from my customers is they like the collaborative process.
Do you have any suggestion to build on this process?