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June 07, 2016
June 07, 2016
A sale is rarely made, particularly on big-ticket items or services, after only one interaction with a prospect. Customers buy on their schedule, so it’s the sales person’s job to stay in touch with the prospect during the sales cycle. But, sometimes, that’s easier said than done. How can you stay in front of them without annoying them?
Here’s what not to do. The biggest thing to avoid with follow up is any form of asking: "Have you decided yet?" That approach is intrusive and will almost always leave you unsuccessful. Your overall tone should always express an appreciation for someone’s time and attention and offer to answer any additional questions.
It’s also worth noting (but should go without saying) that any communication with prospects should be polite, use proper grammar and punctuation, use a respectful tone, use complete sentences and thoughts, and be concise. Basically, use common sense.
Make sure you’re making the case. In sales, it’s easy to get bogged down talking about the details of your product, how it works, or what it does. Be sure you also cover why your product is valuable. Sometimes, that includes talking more around your product than specifically talking about it. And, maybe there’s a follow up communication that can help solidify that message by pointing to a problem that your product helps solve. That can give your prospect a good understanding of why you’re important.
If you’re going to send an email, make sure it stands out. These days, a lot of selling and sales follow-up happens via email. Most people are inundated by the inbox. So, if that’s your chosen method of communication, make sure you’ve done the work to make it stand out.
Your message is in a sea of many, so think of how the title, content and tone can help you catch their attention and reel them in. The good news is, these days, there’s one main tool that can help: the internet. And, more specifically, LinkedIn. Do your homework to get to know who you’re selling and appeal to them on an individualized, personal basis. It’s a great, free resource to give you a leg up.
Try providing added value. Competition is intense. The more ways you can prove your worth, and stand out from competitors, the better. One approach is to figure out how you can provide your prospect added value. Technological advancements create added accessibility and ease; it’s not just about how good your product is anymore. It’s about the knowledge and understanding you bring to what you do, that sets you apart. Is there a white paper you can provide that is helpful to the industry you’re serving? Is there a resource or connection you know of that your prospect might benefit from? These are useful, valuable things to offer that can help your prospect understand your worth and, ultimately, chose to partner with you.
Be consistent and persistent. Don’t let them forget you. One tool to stay in front of someone consistently, while providing value, is a newsletter. If you’re sending useful information on a consistent basis, that person is likely to keep you top of mind when a need arises. Plus, you’ll get an opportunity to send consistent messaging that helps support the reasons why this person needs what you’re selling.
Newsletters also allow you to stay in front of a larger group of people. So, although you’ll spend some time putting one together, you’ll also save time in being able to touch base with a larger group of people at once. Just be sure to set a realistic goal for how often you can put something like that together so you’re staying consistent with its release.
There’s still a place for snail mail. If the goal is to stand out from the crowd, there’s an old friend who can help. Traditional mail can really grab someone’s attention, especially if you’re mailing things other than letters. (Although, a hand written letter can also help you stand out since they’re so rare these days.) Thinking of objects to mail (sometimes the cheesier the better) can help you stay in front of a prospect in a clever way. Sometimes thinking outside the box, or envelope, can help you close a sale.
The main take away: staying in front of prospects is critical to the sale. Maintaining contact can take many forms—the more creative, the better—and is most effective if it’s consistent and unobtrusive. Develop a system that includes several of these ideas and then be sure to follow through. You’ll have a closed deal in no time.