I am often questioned on the best way of making follow-up calls when chasing quotes or proposals. Now I have a simple take on this and am going to approach this in two ways. Firstly, I want to let you know that every follow-up situation is avoidable if the sales process is followed correctly. Secondly, in the event of finding yourself in a situation requiring follow up I want to give you some tips to get back in the driving seat.
The sales process is all about control, and the aim of the game is to be in control throughout the process, leading your prospect from enquiry through to decision, steering them through the maze. A common mistake that is often made is that we try and cheat tried and tested practices by fast
tracking. It’s easy to believe that our potential customers are looking to make the purchase based solely on price, so on receipt of an enquiry we jump straight to quotation as quickly as possible and then look to have a discussion on price.
The truth is that people actually buy on value, and before ever buying a product or service, they will typically buy into a person first.
Knowing that people buy people, then the starting point in avoiding difficult follow up scenarios is to start by building a relationship and, where possible, do this face-to-face. During this meeting you will build rapport and ask questions to equip yourself with the information you need to make a
recommendation to your potential customer. It is at this point that simple mistakes are often made.
The goal is to put yourself in a position where you can deliver your recommendations in person and not by post or email. With this goal in mind, you should arrange the meeting to discuss your findings before leaving the first meeting. This keeps you in control. The easiest way to do this is to give your customer a choice of two dates for your return visit. They will either pick one or suggest an alternative.
On returning with your recommendations understand that you need to start near the beginning again. Re-confirm your customers’ requirements and then walk them through your recommendations, explaining exactly how you can help them, and then close in person, on the day, and leave with the decision, avoiding the need of follow up.
Avoiding chasing decisions is definitely the goal, and I promise the time you invest in controlling this process at the beginning will reward you immensely in improved conversion rates and less time chasing decisions.
However, sometimes you still find yourself faced with outstanding opportunities that you would like to turn into confirmed orders so here are some simple tips.
- Don’t leave voicemail messages. Leaving a message prevents you from calling again.
- Open your call by checking they received your recommendations (not quote or proposal).
- Ask them, what questions they have? Their answer here puts you back in control. Any questions can be answered to lead to a decision. No questions means a decision has been made.
- If the first form of communication fails then try something different. Don’t harass.
- If it’s worth it, then pop back in to see them face-to-face.
- Take your offer away by making it time dependent. Just like the fear of removing a child’s uneaten dinner with a threat of no dessert, then limiting your offer can have the same result.
Now, finally remember that the biggest reason that people do not buy from you is that they remain undecided. Everybody in indecision at some point will decide, and if your follow up remains unproductive then don’t just stop. Continue to communicate by newsletter, and diary an opportunity to make contact again in the future because at some point in the future, their circumstances will change and they may just need your help.