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Tennessean Column- Sunday, October 5th

Posted on: October 07

Author: Tom Black
Tennessean Column- Sunday, October 5th

Follow Up

Here are some facts that may surprise you.

  • In a survey of 1200 firms it was found that 37% of their salesperson’s time was spent selling face to face or by phone.  63% of their time was not spent selling.
  • 21% of their time was spent on lead generation/account research
  • 48% of salespeople NEVER follow up with a prospect
  • 25% of salespeople make a second contact and stop
  • 12% of salespeople only make three contacts and stop
  • Only 10% of salespeople make more than three contacts

Now with all that, here are the results concerning success/making the sale:

  • 2% of sales are made on the first contact
  • 3% of sales are made on the second contact
  • 5% of sales are made on the third contact
  • 10% of sales are made on the fourth contact
  • 80% of sales are made on the fifth to twelfth contact

Yes, as salespeople we are spending less time selling and less time following up with contacts.  Whatever your definition of selling, salespeople need to spend more time in front of the prospect “following up”.

Here are some good follow up techniques.

  1. A sense of urgency- do not worry about being pushy.  Obviously from the statistics the pushy salesperson is in the overwhelming minority.  After the first call (if the prospect is interested) send an email or make a phone call within 24 hours.

Send your follow up emails after 5:00 p.m. the day you see your prospect or the next day before your day starts.  The email should say something like this, “It was nice to meet you.  Our company can help you save time and money (explain how).  I look forward to seeing you again on (put follow up date or follow up phone call).  If you have questions or thoughts call or email me at ….”  If you do not email them, call them with the same kind of message.

Whichever you choose, make contact with your prospect within 24 hours of the first meeting.  Surveys say only 7% of salespeople do this 100% of the time.  It’s your job.  Just do it!  

  1. Never leave your first call on an interested prospect without follow up scheduled.  When you do not schedule your second contact with a prospect at the end of the first contact you have turned control of the sales cycle over to the prospect.  “I will call you Tuesday” is not a scheduled follow up.  “I will call you on Tuesday at 9:00 a.m.  What is the best number to call?” is a scheduled follow up.

When the second follow up is not scheduled you can spend hours trying to chase down the prospect.  This is bad because time kills deals and your time in precious.  When the second meeting or call is not scheduled you will waste your time.

  1. Drip on your prospect regularly.  Let’s say your sales cycle is longer than two weeks.  You cannot just keep calling your prospect.  They will think you’re a pest.  Get creative.  One thought is to get someone else in the company to send them an email.  Maybe it is your sales manager, the CEO or the director of customer service.  Anyone in your company that sends an email adds to the feeling of importance for the customer and adds weight to your company’s impression.

We have a canned email that goes out from the CEO that lets the prospect know he has been called upon.  In addition, the email from the CEO encourages the prospect to call or email.  This touch from the CEO is unique.  Other companies just don’t do it.

Another follow up email might include testimonials from satisfied customers.  The email should say something like, “Bill, here are some things our customers had to say about us.  Any questions give me a call.”  Further follow up emails might be an article of interest to the prospect.  Either an industry specific article or something you know would be of personal interest.  I have sent prospects articles about baseball, health issues and even their universities.  The point is, find something of interest and then drip, drip, drip.  Ask anyone who does this faithfully and they will tell you it works.

So if you believe the statistics, never have a live contact with the prospect without scheduling the next contact and follow up.  Do this as if your life depends on it.  You will make better use of that 37% of the time you are actually in front of the prospect. 

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