A quick internet search will reveal multiple sources indicating that approximately 80% of sales are made between the fifth to eight contact and that only 10% of sales people follow-up more than three times. Although I can’t find the exact source, I know from personal experience, and working with many organizations, that these numbers portray the reality of today’s sales environment. The simple fact is by increasing the number of times you contact a prospective client, your likelihood of success increases dramatically! Why do so few sales people do this then?
I have experienced the power of follow-up first hand. Years ago I secured a significant multi-year training contract with a major insurance company. It “only” took me about 2 years of regular contact and approximately 10 touch-points: phone calls, meetings, etc., to obtain the contract. It was certainly worth the effort!
This blog entry is all about differentiating yourself through professional, persistent and patient follow-up. If you have gone through my Sales Diamond™ Training Program you already know that follow-up is not about mindlessly annoying the prospect and calling more than 8 times just because that is when they are supposed to buy. Rather, follow-up leading up to, and after the sale, differentiates you as a professional. Furthermore, if done correctly, effective qualifying and discovery lays the foundation to earn the right to do business by building trust and enabling the prospective client to become familiar with you and your company.
Follow-up is best done on a personal basis. Methods can range from such things as an email, text, tweet, Facebook post right through to a phone call, lunch meeting, golf game or inviting the client to a special function. It is important to proactively contact your clients to secure business and then follow-up when you have the business. Don’t wait to react when they have a problem. Focus on building long term, profitable relationships.
- Telephone call
- Thank you card
- Letters of appreciation and thanks
- Personal visit
Start by asking or telling your prospect that you will follow-up on a specific day or time. Tell them how you will follow-up (telephone, email, face-to-face) and record this in your daily planner so that you don’t forget. Follow-up is most important after the sale has been completed. A quick telephone call after your product has been delivered, or service provided, reinforces the client’s decision to buy from you and builds trust and loyalty.
Be different! Make an effort to send a handwritten thank you card once you have the business and again when the product or services have been delivered. These extra touches go a long way to affirming your client’s decision to chose you. I know many new sales people believe sending a hand written card went out with the fax machine. Before you discount this mode of contact, consider the last time you received a hand written note from someone. Did you keep the card or letter and reread it several times? Did you put on a counter or your desk and enjoy the image on the cover? Chances are good you left it there for several weeks. I recall a client to whom I sent a thank you card that kept it on his credenza for years!
Whatever method you feel is appropriate; remember to make it personal by referring to something from your last conversation or meeting, or try linking it to something that may be of interest to your client. Taking the time and effort to personalize the contact is another important way for you to demonstrate that you are genuinely interested in the welfare and interests of your client.
Do you have a preferred way to follow-up that makes you stand-out? Share your ideas or best practices other readers of this blog.