It happens all of the time. Particularly with new sales reps who are prospecting. Because they are so surprised that someone answered and will talk to them, they’re ill-prepared to take it further.
Once they finally get a decision maker, they begin the call, then move into something like: “Well, I’d like to schedule a time with you to do a web demo.” Or: “I’d like to email you some material and then call you back.”
Here’s my advice: If the music is still playing, stay on the dance floor. Take the call as far as you possibly can. Don’t be the one to end it. If your pitch is of interest and value, the person will stay with you.
The weak follow-up call
In addition to now proactively stretching out your sales cycles, wasting your time with those who will never buy from you, not taking the first call, you’re en route to a weak follow-up call.
Many reps send out letters, literature, white papers, web links, samples and so on after the first contact and begin the follow-up with the standard: “Hi, I was checking to make sure you received the information I sent” – followed by the equally ineffective, “Uh, do you have any questions?”
After hearing “No, no questions,” they end: "Well, keep us in mind.”
The listener responds with the fiction: “Oh, OK, I will.”
Useless, ineffective, a waste of time – and a morale destroyer for your rep. Communication is not working.
So, let’s look at it. Because the initial call was ineffective and prematurely stopped, the follow-up is not much warmer. But here’s how you can correct your problem.
As I said earlier, go further on the first call. Granted, unless you are selling something simple and your sales process is transactional, you probably do need a multiple call process.
But be sure it’s worth it for you to enter the prospect into your funnel and agree to call back. You should have a variation of this criterion as part of your follow-up litmus test.
- The prospect should do something between the initial call and the scheduled follow-up that would make this call worthwhile, such as check your prices versus what they pay, or use the sample you send, or,
- A future event will take place that would make the follow-up more appropriate, such as a new budget year beginning, adding more personnel.
- Next, the call opening needs to bring them into a conversation that readdresses the hot points fuelling their interest in the previous call. It also serves to move the process closer to the ultimate objective (the sale or appointment)
- Here’s a simple format for the opening.
- Identification. The easy part – name and company will do: “Hi Pat, this is Bob Tallent from The Synergy Group”
- Bridge. You need to bring them back to where they were emotionally when you ended the previous call. Remind them of their interest. “...I’m calling to pick up where we left off last week, when we went through the benefits you’d receive from...”
- The Agenda for This Call. This needs to be proactive: “I’d like to go through the material I sent you to point out the precise cost-cutting features that apply specifically...” Use words like “discuss,” “analyse,” “cover,” “review,” and “walk through”. Know what makes your product different, what makes you stand out from the crowd.
- Also include some value-added reason for the call. So if interest has waned since the last contact, and/or they didn’t follow through with what they said they’d do (which often happens) you still have a basis for continuing this contact. For example: “And I also did some research and came up with a few other examples of something you showed interest in the last time we spoke: how other printers have used this process.”
take advantage of the opportunity when you do get a decision maker on the phone. Move the process as far as you can, have a good reason for following up, and you will turn prospects into customers more quickly, and not waste time with those who will never buy from you.
Make it your best week ever!