Many telephone reps are hesitant to follow up too soon or too often with their prospects.
They are worried that they’ll be perceived as being too aggressive or too pushy. They’re worried that the prospect won’t like them. They like to believe that the prospect will call when they are ready to buy. If they follow up, they follow up two, three or four weeks later.
If you think you might be guilty then this post is for you.
Prospecting Reality 101
Look: decision makers are busy people. They have all sorts of tasks and activities for which they are responsible. In any given day, they must respond to their boss, their subordinates, customers, suppliers, co-workers and friends. They get phone calls, voice mails, and e-mails that require a response. They attend meetings and work on projects.
Everyone —including your competitors— is vying for a piece of your prospect’s attention. They are all pushing THEIR agendas, trying to get to the top of the decision makers “To Do” list.
So, what it boils down to is this: if YOU don’t push YOUR (sales) agenda’ no one else will.
So how do you push your agenda to the top of the heap without being a pest? Here are __ tips and tactics.
Tip #1: Understand the Plight of Your Prospects
Because your prospects ARE busy they forget about your sale, quote, proposal or information. Or they procrastinate and delay because something more pressing lands on their desk. What you may not know is that at a conscious or subconscious level, many of your prospects expect YOU to act as their conscience and help move your sales further. So, it’s your JOB to create a presence and follow up.
Tip #2: Believe in Your Product /Service and Yourself
Here’s the thing: you have got to have the attitude that what you’re offering is the best solution for your prospect. You’ve got to have that passionate and abiding belief that your prospect will truly miss out if he/she doesn’t take advantage of what you have to offer. If you believe- truly and utterly believe- in your product /service and the benefits it can bring, then you won’t have a single worry about picking up the phone.
(Oh, and by the way, if you don’t have it, if you don’t feel it, then change your attitude and start believing it … or change your job)
Tip #3: Wherever possible get commitment for a follow up date and time for the next step in the sales cycle.
If you’re going to send a quote, proposal or information say something like, “I’ll get that out to you … and what I would like to recommend is that we set up a date to discuss the next steps, if any. How does Tuesday, the 5th look for you at say, 8:30 before you date heats up?” If you get a commitment up front then moving your agenda forward is a piece of cake.
Tip #4 (a): Send an Outlook invitation to confirm your follow up.
If you’ve got commitment for the follow up, send an Outlook appointment invitation to further confirm the appointment. It increases your odds of the prospect being there.
Tip #4 (b): Send an Outlook invitation to establish a follow up date and time.
If you didn’t get commitment for a follow up date and time, send and Outlook appointment invitation with a proposed date and time. What’s the worse that can happen? They decline (or don’t respond). What’s the best that can happen? They accept. Et voila!
Tip #5: Do something extra before your follow up call.
Whether you have a confirmed follow up date or not, do something extra before making your next call. For instance, send a thank you note, an article, or a link to create a little extra value. It helps brand you and gets you remembered. Attach a note that says, “I thought of you when I saw this (link, article, news release etc.) and thought you might enjoy it.” You can bet that you’ll move a few notches up on your prospects “must do” list.
Tip #6: Make a minimum of four follow ups contacts.
If you’re not sure of how many times you should follow up a prospect, a good rule of thumb is to make four contacts spaced three business days apart. The three day interval politely gives the prospect enough time to respond and provides enough time and space so you’re not ‘stalking’ the client. (Don’t be limited to 4 contacts. If there is significant potential be persistent.)
Tip #7: Use a combination of voice mail and e-mail.
You get the power of audio communication with visual communication. Reference each other: when you leave a voice mail message mention you sent an e-mail and vice versa. (For message content, see #8)
Tip #8: Avoid trite phrases like, “…just following up to see if you got the quote … (or)… had any questions …” in your messages.
Every telephone rep under the sun will use phrases like this and the prospect dismisses them immediately. Here’s a quick way to push your agenda: reference the problem or opportunity that you uncovered in the initial call. Problems and opportunities are motivators. Get your prospect to think, “Oh ya… that’s a real pain; gotta take care of that… I got call this rep back.” Remind them.
Remember! No one will be going to bat for you. It’s up to you to make things happen. Push your agenda. Be polite. Time your contacts. But above all, be persistent.