A sales rep’s default is to be transactional
Time and time again, I have trained sales guys in my organization who come into our system with a whole plethora of traditional transactional sales habits. I spend time discussing one practice in particular—the follow-up. One of the most common sales habits is what is known within the sales industry as persistence. In fact, the follow-up is a reflection of how persistent I need to be to make you buy. Oftentimes, sales guys mechanically make calls to “follow-up” with their pending accounts. Most often, this looks like a routine time set aside each day in which the sales representative starts at the top of a call list and makes his way down—one by one with no other intention except to complete the list. I can relate because I’ve been there.
This method couldn’t be any more ineffective. Prospective clients know who’s calling and they do get the voicemails. You really only have three attempts to reach a client until the prospect converts you to a solicitor within their mind. No matter the quality of the sales presentation and relationship, you don't have the right to barge into the prospect's life thereafter. If you treat the client like a number on a call list, he’ll treat you like a number that won’t stop calling. The key is to strategically make attempts to reach the client. If you do reach him, don’t use buzz words like “I just wanted to follow-up,” “I wanted to reach out,” or even better, “I wanted to circle back on . . . .” Again, the key is to be strategic and relational.
Understand your audience: It doesn’t matter what you think
You might be thinking, how do I become more strategic? The key is to understand your audience. How does the prospect want to be spoken to? Are phone calls the best? Maybe e-mail or text are more convenient. The key is to ask. Additionally, you’ll want to understand the best times to call, if phone calls are most convenient. Is it in the morning or in the evening after the kids are down for bed? It is imperative that you ask about the “follow-up” during the sales presentation. I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to always ask for the next point of contact every time you speak to a client. It is just courteous. If you do those things, you’ll create the right expectations to move the relationship forward.
You may also be thinking, how do I become more relational? It’s simple. I always ask myself, would I speak to my wife in this tone or manner? What about my best friend? Would I have the same tone in my voice, expressions, and body language? If not, why should it be any different in a sales presentation? After all, building a relationship is no different whether you’re on the clock or not. Countless times, I’ve been in a sales presentation with a new trainee and afterward I ask him, “Would you speak to your wife like that?” The answer is oftentimes “No.” It is surprising the expectations that we place on ourselves within sales environments. Oftentimes, it’s an artificial expectation. The key is to have self-awareness and recognize your patterns that may not be so genuine while you’re building relationships in a sales environment.
Here are some tips that you can take with you:
I want to leave you with some practical tips that I use while I am following up after a sales presentation.
#1: I always follow up exactly when I said I would. My default is exactly a week's time unless the client and I agree otherwise.
#2 I call the exact day and if I miss the prospect, I leave a voicemail. However, I don’t leave any additional voicemails until several missed calls down the road.
#3 I’ll send an e-mail or text to complement my missed call and voicemail. After a couple of days, if I have not heard back, I will resend my proposal via the sales software that I use so that they get a new e-mail at the top of their inbox.
Note: If the prospect is interested, this generally is the step that triggers a response.
After these three steps, you will know whether or not the prospect wants to buy. The key to understanding whether or not the prospect wants to buy is the difference between you spending your time following up or moving on to the next opportunity.
When following up with a prospect, are you transactional or are you strategic and relevant to your audience?