Let’s face it: giving impressive presentations is just the tip of the iceberg. Even if the initial meeting went well and you struck the right chord with the buyer, you are only halfway to your final destination. Equally important are the subsequent steps you take to stay on your customers’ radar and keep the sales process rolling. If you want to stand out and be memorable, you’d better start developing your follow-up strategy long before each sales encounter. As a matter of fact, the way you follow up with prospects can “make or break a deal” and should always be on your agenda.
If you don’t want to be perceived as another run-of-the-mill vendor searching for new business, find ways to differentiate yourself from the rest of the pack and stick in everyone’s mind.
The article below will help you develop effective follow-up strategies, cultivate trust and win the sales game.
Being old-fashioned never runs out of style
Traditional communication methods never seem to lose their impact or run out of style. While we all tend to communicate almost solely via phone, email or social media, use a different approach to “wow” your customers. No matter how busy you are, take the time to craft a short hand-written note, expressing your gratitude for the time they spent with you. Remind them when you are going to touch base again and reiterate your interest in their company. In today’s hectic world, a thank you card shows your buyers that you don’t take anything for granted and are genuinely looking forward to doing business with them. Of course, you can save time and money by shooting a quick email and getting it over with. Just keep in mind that electronic messages do not have nearly the same effect or are read as often as hand-written notes.
Before you complete your sales call with the customer and turn your attention to the thank you card, communicate specific next steps and set up a time for the next phone call or face-to-face meeting along with the value the next meeting will provide your customer. You may even mention the additional topics you are going to discuss and outline your expectations for the next sales encounter. This way, your buyer will be prepared and bought in for the follow-up conversations.
Build momentum with each follow-up
When you start following-up with prospects, make sure you add value at each touch point. If you come across valuable information, intriguing news stories or statistical data, pertinent to their industry, email them a link or give them a quick call. In fact, this may serve as a good excuse to reach out to your prospects again and resume a conversation.
Prior to your follow-up meeting, go over your notes and identify additional issues that did not get addressed during the previous encounter. Take the time to do additional research, engage in brainstorming and develop a more effective product positioning. This is your chance to recharge your batteries, review and enhance your initial approach, and get to the root of the problem. Articulate specific questions that would help you dig deeper and unearth crucial details about your prospect’s situation. Is there anything you were unable to accomplish the first time around? Are there any hidden issues that you failed to pinpoint in the beginning? Remember, great questions lead to an active dialogue that builds trust and moves the sales process forward.
Be persistent without being a pest
As you may know, there is a fine line between being “positively assertive” and being “annoyingly disruptive.” While following-up is an important step in the sales process, don’t overstep the boundaries and bombard your prospects with an avalanche of emails, phone calls and messages. Don’t be too eager and give your buyers a chance to absorb all the details, sort things out and make up their minds. They may have a million things on their agenda and a slew of urgent issues to address. No need to overwhelm your customers with frequent follow-ups and reminders, urging them to respond as soon as possible. This tactic may backfire and alienate potential buyers. Tread with caution and be respectful of their time; step back and give them some space, without prompting them into action.
Bottomline: Most sales professionals are aware that follow-up is a crucial part of the sales process. The single biggest mistake many sales reps make is failing to develop an effective follow-up strategy. While first impressions count, it’s the follow-up call that gets the sales cycle rolling. Don’t let your sales strategy fall by the wayside, just because you didn’t take all the necessary steps to complete the process. Start planning your follow-up before each sales meeting and do everything you can to stay on your customers’ radar and keep the sales process on track.