Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Chasing or Following?

Another great piece of sales wisdom from Art:

This Week's Tip
Are Your Follow-Up's Accomplishments,
Or Just Activities


Do you really know where you stand with the
prospects in your follow-up files right now?

Come on, really now? I'm not trying to make
you feel bad, but my experience is that many
sales reps have no clue where they are in
the sales process with a majority of the
people they are following up with.

Yet, they continue to call, continue to
leave voice mail messages ("Hey, I'm just
checking in with you, wondering how it's
going..."), send an endless stream of emails,
and HOPE that something will happen.

It's like running on a treadmill. There's
lots of activity, but you don't go anywhere.

And it can exhaust you. (Actually, the
treadmill is better since at least you are
accomplishing something physically-more
people should do it. I digress.)

Although some reps argue that at least they
are making contact and "touching" their
prospects through their messages, I say,
bull. Here's why:

1. Repeated messages with no value puts you
in a position where you're viewed as a vendor...
a salesperson whose goal is to sell them
something. The more you call to "just check
in," the more the image of the "stalker
salesperson" is solidified in their mind.

2. You waste time, and money, on a couple
of levels. First, let me make the assumption
that many of these "prospects" never will
do anything with you. Therefore, you are
throwing away time--which translates into
money--by continuing to call them. Not only
are you wasting the time when you actually
DO reach them, but factor in all of the
attempts and messages you leave.

And then add the prep time for each call
(You are doing pre-call planning, right?)

OK, so what should we be doing?

Let's zoom in to a call. We need to gauge
the temperature of the prospect and get a
snapshot of precisely where we are with them.
I've found that it's always best to let the
prospect tell you their perception of the
progression of the sales cycle and what
the next steps should be.

For example, when you reach the point
where you feel things have moved sufficiently,

"So, where are we right now?"

"Where do we sit right now?"

"How far do you feel we have progressed
to this point?"

"How close are we to making this happen?"

"What are the next steps?"

"What next?"

"What needs to happen on your end to move

"How do you see us proceeding?"

And then...?

Assuming you've done this, received good
information, and the person truly is a good
prospect, then what?

Well, let's use a real situation posed to
me by a reader. Donald Holbrook with Stanford
Keene asked,

"I manage three guys that are on the phone
every day and talking to the top executives
in companies worldwide. I am continuously
working on my verbal communication as well
as theirs. As you can imagine, we have to
"follow up" with our contacts and have
found that it is common for these guys
to say that they are calling back to "touch
base" or "when is a good time for me to get
back in contact to touch base and see how
things have progressed?" What suggestions
would you have to replace these words?

To tie this into what I have covered earlier,
I always say the success of the follow up is
in direct relation to the success of the
previous call, and what is to happen next.

It involves getting a commitment that they
(the prospect) will do something and you'll
do something as a result of the call.

Then you can follow up with,

"I'm calling to continue our conversation
of last week where we had discussed ____
and you were going to review the statistics
I sent you. I'd like to go through those
with you and I have some additional
information I believe you'll find beneficial."

On your follow-up calls it's important to
remember that your prospects are likely
not doing pre-call planning like you.
Therefore, you can't assume they are in
the same frame of mind as you when your
call arrives. Actually, you should assume
they might not even remember you. Then
you'll make it a point to briefly review
where you left the previous conversation:

"The last time we spoke you had shown
interest in..."

"I'm calling to continue our conversation
from last week where we had discussed ____
and you were going to..."

Remember, activity is not accomplishment.

Worse, it could be costly. Use these ideas
to move your prospects forward, and your
sales higher.


"Listen long enough and the person will generally come
up with an adequate solution."

Mary Kay Ash

"Like" Art on Facebook and get a Free Ebook!
So Facebook has changed their Fan terminology to "Like."
I don't "like" it, but it's their playground and we're part of it.
Anyway, go to my Page, hit the "Like" button at the top
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Contact: Art Sobczak, President, Business By Phone Inc. 13254 Stevens St.,
Omaha, NE 68137,
(402) 895-9399. Or,

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