When I accompany sales people on their appointments in my capacity as a sales coach, I very rarely see the follow up used as a sales tool. However, I have witnessed two extremes of sales follow up technique that left me cold.
The first was immediately after the sales person had finished the presentation of the price and received a polite, “We’ll have to think about that, it is more than we anticipated paying.” The negotiation was based on discount which still was not bringing the price down to the customer’s expected price level.
The sales person then packed his things and stated that he had to call his manager to tell him how the appointment had finished. You can see it coming … the manager then wanted to talk to the customer and, blow me down with a feather, more discount was offered to close the sale. This technique actually turned the customer off so much that I could see the anger in their face. Something the sales person missed!
What a shame that the only selling skills available was based on discount rather than understanding the customer’s perceived idea of value for this particular product.
The other extreme of follow up was used by a sales person selling kitchens and, at the end of the fruitless presentation, told the customer that he would call in a few days having given them time for thought about the purchase.
What made it worse was the statement, “I have to follow up every call or my manager has a go at me and after a certain period the system takes the lead back and I get nothing.” I don’t know if this was the “sympathy sale” close technique!
The follow up call was made a few days later with this, less than effective, telephone call. “Hello, this is … from … (names withdraw). Have you thought about the price any further, or what other thoughts have you had.” I’m not sure I need to comment on the quality and substance of this follow up call because it is so similar to many I have witnessed in the past.
Here are some tips on how to make sales follow up calls more effective.
- Make an appointment with the customer for the follow up; what day, morning or afternoon, what phone number.
- Agree what the subject of the call will be about; not just asking about if the customer has thought more about the purchase.
- Have another reason for the customer to buy; but ensure this reason has a customer based benefit, not just the offer of another discount.
- Have a progression plan for what happens after the follow up call; many sales people just continually use follow up calls as their method of keeping a sales prospect “live”.
During my Follow Up Workshops the delegates discover different ideas on how to make their calls more effective. Many find that creating a rough script helps to put some structure to the calls. Delegates also coach each other in how the call sounds from a customer’s point of view. Many have reported an up-lift in conversion ratios after implementing a properly thought through sales follow up process.
Telephone communication for follow up and sales prospecting is a science and I am amazed at how many call centre and sales operations get it so badly wrong. Many subtle messages can be delivered through a well planned, non-visual conversation but this needs to be set up well in advance – even at the point of first contact with the prospective customer.
Ian D Ludlow helps sales and customer service people and organisations in the business-to-business, direct sales and retail environments to improve their current performance.
As a Master Practitioner of NLP and Accredited LVT Practitioner, he uses fun and creative techniques to change unproductive behaviours and to help individuals and teams THINK FASTER and REACT QUICKER to ever changing market conditions.
He states, “If you carry on doing what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.” Ian’s specialism is knowing what to change and how to change it with minimum effort and maximum return.
Ian helped improve the average sales value for a retail business by 14% which added £34M in sales revenue over one year from 320 stores. He also helped increase the sales conversion ratio by 7% through quality sales training and lead generation programmes for a kitchen and bathroom installer; increasing sales by £24M over one year.
Ian D Ludlow can be contacted on +44 (0)1795 55 56 83 whilst his website is under construction.
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