Friday, June 8, 2012

Fantastic Follow-Up Techniques - Part II

At the May 9 Erie Sales Club workshop, the group discussed Fantastic Follow-Up Techniques. This is the second in a series of articles that highlight that discussion.

The statistics about follow-up are alarming. 48% of salespeople never follow-up after an initial call. 25% more stop after the second call. Do the math: 48% + 25% = 73% give up after two calls. Only 12% of sales reps make more than three call attempts.

The stats also say that only 10% of sales are made on the first three contacts; 80% of sales are made somewhere between the fifth and 12th contact. All this means that the vast majority of sales are left to the small percentage of salespeople who persist.

With the stats clear that follow-up calls are so important, why don't sales reps spend their life performing follow-up calls? That's the question we posed to the Erie Sales club workshop group, plus we asked them for advice on how to improve the situation. Here's some of what they had to say:

* It's because of emotions. Reps don't want to offend the prospect by appearing pushy. They fear falling into the category of being calls a "pest."
* Advice: "Go for no." The prospect will tell you when they are not interested in your product or service. Don't quit until you get that "no" answer.
* Build rapport as quickly as possible. Establish value with the prospect; understand how you can help them and communicate that with the prospect.
* Steer the conversation away from price. Talk about customer needs and how you can solve those customer needs. For example, an insurance agent told this story to a prospect: We're not the cheapest insurance. But when you actually need to use the insurance, we'll come through for you. A customer of mine owns a manufacturing company. One day snow piled up on his roof and collapsed part of the building. Nobody could work in the building until it was fixed. Essentially his business was shut down. We moved quickly and got his business back up and running the next day. If he would have had cheaper insurance, the process would have been slower and he'd have been shut down for who knows how long. That's the value I can provide you. My customer thinks it's worth paying a little more every month. What about you?"
* Recognize and acknowledge that you've call the prospect multiple times. Ask them if and when they would like you to follow-up. "If you've made a decision, please let me know."
* Clearly manage their expectations. "I'm following up with you to talk about X. I hope to hear from you soon. If I don't hear back from you this week, I'll give you a call next week hoping we can talk."

Panelists for the workshop were Derek Van Slyke of Jameson Publishing, Brad Allen of Rossbacher Insurance, and Christie Mahany of Marsha Marsh Real Estate Services.

The Erie Sales Club is a joint effort of four leading local businesses: Jameson Publishing, Marsha Marsh Real Estate Services, VertMarkets, and Howland Peterson Consulting.