Updated: May 2
Leading by following…up.
I did a speaking gig earlier this year and followed up an attendee on the off chance they might buy by sending some case studies over. We traded emails trying to find a suitable time to meet to discuss a discovery session to discuss elevating their sales. I added value to the prospect by inviting them to events I was running and sending educational material and content.
When I write this out as a storyboard of contact between us I reached no less than 12 interactions. This includes the involvement of a separate prospect who was a mutual contact reaching out for a ‘reference’ from the previous prospect about my character and the service I provide.
Needless to say my patience and persistence paid off as the prospect is now enrolled on my Hypergrowth program and could potentially surpass their 6 month target of doubled turnover in month 2 if they continue to grow with the current rate for the rest of the month. I’m writing this 2 weeks into the month.
Why do I tell you this? Well, it’s not to show off or to highlight how effective the sales development we supply is but to illustrate what sales people have to and should go through in order to close deals.
I would remind you to look at your business cards and BELIEVE that whatever it says you are in some way responsible for the companies’ revenue and hence its sales. Even if its customer service only, you are creating a customer experience that could generate referrals and repeat business.
My story showed me the power of how a tighter follow up process can shorten the purchasing journey (this story took 6 months to complete by the way, MUCH MUCH longer than the 7-10 days my normal sales process takes). This journey not only gave me a moment of clarity (and a certain sense of relief I’ll admit) but also 2 new clients as both prospects went on to buy my services and they became strong strategic partners referring business to each other as a result, something they could have done previously but never got round to developing before my intervention. What a result!!
ALL OF THIS HAPPENED BECAUSE OF MY FOLLOW UP.
It is unfortunately the case that 48% of sales people don’t follow up at all, so if YOU - because it can only be YOU that decides - make the decision to follow up all your prospects, you will separate yourself from nearly half of the pack. 25% of businesses make only 2 contacts when following up and then give up!! With only 1/8 sales people following up 3 times or more its no wonder that its quite easy to have such a massive impact on your turnover. Are you going to stay with the herd or separate yourself and change your businesses turnover and hence your own lifestyle forever?
Remember: Every missed prospect is a missed opportunity! How much business are you going to miss this week, month and year?
Believe it or not 8/10 sales are made between the 5th and 12th contact. I just shared a journey that took me the full 12!! But it could quite easily have been more.
So why don’t people follow up?
Simple: Society indoctrinates us not to be a pest, people have a fear of rejection and sales people in particular have no clue of their full potential. In simple terms, following up is just about a simple mindset shift. You shouldn’t think of following up as selling to people, but if you truly believe your product adds value to enrich peoples lives, by following up you are trying to help them, not sell to them aren’t you? Look at how easy following up becomes when you think of it like that. If you know you are helping people don’t you want to pick up the phone 50 times a day now? I know I do!!
As for fear of rejection, not everybody can benefit from your product. So some people may say no, but a no could just mean not yet. I have another prospect who is interested in my product but one of the directors is having a baby and needs to move house as a result so we have deferred by a few months until the situation is more favorable. If you can take two words away from this point it’s these:
In 6 months the prospect that rejected your proposal may move to another company where your product becomes valuable. So it is important to have a short process to close deals but also a pipeline where you keep contact with your prospects until they are ready and willing to buy.
BY having the right mindset we become strong, we become focused and we can build and work towards our KPI’s and goals. This means at each sales interaction you are more likely to (figuratively) come running out ‘wind milling’ with the confidence and determination to get a decision which you have stacked in favour of a ‘YES!!’ You have now become: ‘THE VALUE ADDER’, because your product adds value to peoples lives right? Prospects will now gravitate towards you because of this value which you radiate and can communicate ‘WHY’ they need it in their lives which just further increases your sales making you even more of THE expert in whatever your chosen field is.
Being an expert is important for this gravitation, if you owned a Rolls Royce, you wouldn’t take it to the local garage for a service or MOT, but you would want it to be seen by the specialists and experts at Rolls Royce wouldn’t you? You would seek them out to do the work BECAUSE THEY ARE EXPERTS…it’s a similar concept to selling your product/service.
But back to following up: in business people usually value two commodities above all else, time and money. So if you look at each of your prospects that you have taken the first step on doing business with, you have already invested so much in them at the first interaction: the cost of traveling to where you met them, perhaps there was an entry fee or parking fee to the event or even if it is just the time taken to meet and converse with them briefly rather than doing something else that could have brought in a sale. IT’S ALL A COST. So why wouldn’t you follow them up and stop that cost from being wasted?
Don’t be wasteful, life is too short.
Why don’t people follow up then?
If we were to survey a group of sales managers they would probably say their sales staff is being lazy as the reason. In truth it’s usually because they don’t know what to say, or they just aren’t organized. There is nothing wrong with either of these, but both can be rectified.
If you don’t know what to say, ask your prospect if you are wasting your time following up. It may be that the pause in their response or what they say gives a clue into that they do see the value in what you’ve got to give so it is worth you following them up. You want to think about your interactions actually guiding your prospect towards saying ‘no’ because on the way they are more likely to stumble across avenues of value addition that prompt them to say YES when they closely look at your offer.
Like most things in sales, people don’t want to follow up prospects because they have a choice not to do it and invariably the choice of NOT to is easier than to just get on and do it. It is a simple series of mindset shifts that sets the successful apart from the status quo. How many games of rugby did Jonny Wilkinson have to play before he was considered at the top of his game? But by believing he was the best he certainly earned his place in English Rugby’s hall of fame. The same is true of your business, I recently listened to a recording by Jim Rohn who stated that being successful is easy…in that it is something you are capable of doing, but then it is also easy NOT to be successful. The undertone separating them is that you have to work, a lot, to be a success. Regardless, it is still something any of us is capable of doing with the mindset, desire and commitment to attain it:
“Don’t neglect to do the easy things daily that lead to your fortune” Jim Rohn
Make the mindset shifts to stand apart from the status quo and be a success – starting with your follow up.
HOW should you follow up?
GET organized!! If it takes between 5 and 12 contacts to close 8/10 deals logically you need to map out the 12 contact steps, use your value library and get prepared, have a reason to contact them, find the introduction they are aching for, send them the article you wrote that advises on solving the problem they told you about.
WHEN should you start?
ON YOUR WAY TO THE CAR HOME!!! All it takes is a message or a connection request thanking them for the time they’ve taken to meet you. If you’re really on the ball you will already have booked your first follow up contact meeting, and a beautiful tip I picked up recently at a seminar:
WRITE THE APPOINTMENT DATE AND TIME ON THEIR BUSINESS CARD INFRONT OF THEM TO SHOW YOUR INTENTIONS!!!
WHAT medium should I use?
PICK ONE!! Phone is best, but in this digital age you can spread it across any method of contact: email, facebook, twitter, linkedin, instagram, pinterest, whatsapp, SMS, photo/snapchat, video. Of course some are more appropriate to your market than others though.
You may have heard the line of: ‘Follow up until they buy, or die, and even then you can follow up the estate’. Maybe you think that extreme? But as a minimum should follow up with value addition until you get a decision tactically so you are being persistent but not a pest.
If you don’t want to follow up more than you are you have sculpted a glass roof for yourself and your business, but if you make the right mindset changes you can propel yourself through any obstacle or barrier and blast to the stars of success.