For longevity in business, you’re going to need great and consistent follow-up. There are three areas where follow-up can have a huge impact on your business; prospecting, post-presentation, and no-sale.
You spend a large amount of time deciding on your target market, researching prospects within that market, and marketing to those prospects. What a waste of time to do all that work and then not follow-up! What happens many times is that a company acquires a list of “qualified” prospects of hundreds, or even thousands, of names, addresses, phone numbers, etc. and then they send direct-mail pieces and/or emails to all of them at once. I believe that this is with the hope that the stars will all align just right and a flood of responses will come in.
Think of the last time you picked up your mail at home. You look through the stack of mail for envelopes that aren’t addressed to “resident” or “occupant” and then decide of what is left over what you will open. Now, keep in mind that there were probably 5-10 flyers, postcards and the like that you didn’t even look at. The same is true of your business prospects. The better way is to decide on a targeted area, maybe a zip-code, an area code, some well-defined geography that is small enough to allow you to follow-up on the information you sent within ONE WEEK.
Differentiate your Business
The pieces you send should differentiate you from the pack. If it’s a direct-mail piece, be sure it is an odd size so that it doesn’t shuffle in with the rest of the stack and get lost. An odd sized piece of mail is more likely to get handled and looked at.
If it is an email, be sure the email has something of interest in the subject line for the market you are going after. Knowing your market intimately will tell you what that is. I.E., if you’re selling toys for children, a subject line might be “Safe, government compliant toys”. Experience tells me that if you send something out to a prospect, you feel better about making the call. I have tested the theory out. I had told my group of salespeople that I had sent out a direct-mail piece to their respective territories. I showed them the piece and handed it out to each of them. Unbeknownst to them, I had only sent it out to half of their territories. But, the result was the same. Each salesperson felt more confident in making a cold-call because they thought they had been previously introduced!
So, take advantage of the confidence and energy that can be driven by marketing.
Be Strategic in your Follow-ups
You’ve now invested a huge amount of time and money to get your name out there, so, follow-up, follow-up, follow-up!
No matter how well you qualify your prospects and appointments, no matter how well you understand your prospect’s needs and wants, no matter how strong of a closer you are, there will be some sales you won’t close. In today’s business environment, even what used to be considered a “simple”, “one-call-close” sale has turned into multiple meetings before the sale is consummated. So, here, again, follow-up is imperative.
The key in this situation is being strategic. Know what you want to accomplish at each meeting to progressively move the sale forward. Then, as you conclude each meeting, assign yourself and your prospect action steps to move to the next phase. Make absolutely sure you set a date and time for the next meeting before leaving the current one. Now here’s where the follow-up comes in; as you complete your assigned tasks, call your prospect to confirm that they, too, are getting their tasks done. You must make sure that you use the information from the last meeting as to their motivation for being interested in doing business with you in front of them.
All too often business and salespeople follow-up, but don’t give or remind the prospect of their motivation for taking precious time to do work on top of their day-to-day load. When that happens, the deal falls apart and the prospect doesn’t do their research, or get the information, or do whatever you needed them to. The day-to-day “time-goblins” have struck again! They have probably even forgotten why they were talking to you.
Not only do you need follow-up for that, but also for the sales you close. Follow-up can be to thank a prospect or new client for the meeting or for their business. It can be to gather, or share, additional information after a meeting. It can be just to keep your name to the forefront of a prospect’s mind by sharing information with them about something going on in their industry or something special you have to offer to them. A word of caution: Don’t use the age-old phrase, “I was just calling to follow-up.” It lacks meaning and it tells your prospect that you didn’t call with a real purpose. They’ll feel that you are wasting their time and won’t connect you with being a partner with them in business.
Also, during your first meeting or first sale you may not have addressed all of the needs they have for products and services you provide. So, as part of follow-up, have a strategic plan on going back to your clients to discuss additional opportunities that may be present for you to help them.
A follow-up call may go something like this:
“Hi, ________! I had told you that I would keep in contact with you about the _______ that you purchased from me to make sure all is going well. So, please give me some feedback.”
“That’s great! I love it when my clients have a great experience with my product/service. You know, during our meeting, you said something about a need to solve a problem with ________. I think I may have just the right solution for you and I’d like to come by and meet with you see if I can be of service to you again. When could I come by and discuss that with you further? Who else would need to be at the meeting about ________? Can they meet with us, too? I look forward to seeing you then!
It takes ten times the amount of work and resources to get a new client as it does to keep a current client. So, from a time management and an income perspective, it makes sense to keep in close contact. Let me give you a personal example.
I acquired a new client about six months ago. She told me during the presentation that they were going to double their staff at that office soon, as they were closing a facility and bringing them to this one. I did my usual follow-up after the sale. After about a month, I found that there was a problem she was hesitant to tell me about until I pressed her for feedback and I was able to address it immediately. I like to be a problem-seeker so that I can be a problem-solver.
Anyway, I continued to follow-up every other month, especially during the holidays and developed a close, professional relationship. I asked her a couple of times about the move and if they had the timing set for it and she told me that it kept changing. I asked her if she might need my services again when the moved happened and she said she would give that some thought. Not long ago, I received a phone call from my client. Without an additional meeting she placed an order with me.
I made $5,000 for about 10 minutes worth of work! Great follow-up pays off!
I hope that you find this information valuable and useful and that it puts you on your way to sales success!