All salespeople suffer from call reluctance to one degree or another. If they tell you they don’t then they’re lying.
It’s ultimately easier and more comfortable to engage in any other activity in our sales processes other than to make those darn cold calls. It’s especially difficult if you are new or in a slump or disorganized in your prospecting methods. It’s also hard to do if you’re a veteran, trying to get your pipeline full again.
Plain and simple, cold calling is a bitch, right?
So I have some good news and some bad news for you.
The good news is the actual cold call is only a COLD call once. It happens fast—it’s over before you know it (just like getting a shot at the doctor’s office). You either did or didn’t get an appointment on your first attempt (and you probably didn’t). Cold calling is actually the easiest thing to accomplish in our sales process and you can make hundreds of them a week if you aren’t lazy. Every call, communication or ‘touch’ after the initial cold call is warm, and should get warmer if you’re doing it right.
That’s the good news.
The bad news is that the hard and tedious work begins AFTER the initial cold call. More than 90% of all of your quality appointments will be set after your 3rd – 5th ‘touch’ with your prospect. This is where the lion’s share of your success will come from…NOT the initial cold call.
So, let’s get over your disdain of cold calling. It’s the easiest part of the sales process! The PAYOFF happens when you follow up!
If you are still not quite clear on WHY the follow up process is so critical to your success, let’s ponder these 4 points:
- It’s the follow up call that gets the sales cycle started
- It’s where YOUR value begins to become obvious to the prospect
- It’s here where you obtain essential information about the prospect
- …and most importantly, it’s where the relationship begins
Hopefully I’ve convinced you that you only make a “cold call” once, and the initial cold call is far less significant than the myriad of follow up calls you will make until your prospects says, “yes” or says, “Can you please lose my number!”
Now that we’ve convinced you WHY following up is so important, let’s show you HOW to follow up. Let’s take a look at these 5 steps that you should think about incorporating into your follow up process.
- Get A Commitment For the Follow Up Time
The single biggest mistake salespeople make is not creating a specific date and time for the follow up call at the end of their initial call. Vague commitments don’t work. “Call me next week” will result in missed calls, multiple voice messages and ultimately a longer sales cycle.
“I’ll be glad to call you back and what I’d like to suggest is that we set that up for next Tuesday, the 16th, at say, 8:45. We can determine the next steps, if any. How does that sound?”
If the time you suggest doesn’t work, recommend another. If that doesn’t work, get them to establish a date and time.
Creating a deadline is a simple but extremely powerful tactic. Use it.
- Build Good Will and Be Memorable
Send handwritten thank you cards that say:
“Julie, thank you for taking the time to speak with me today. I look forward to chatting with you further on the 16th!
In today’s impersonal digital world, a personalized snail mail card tells the client that you took the time and the effort to do something a little different.
This resonates with the prospect and elevates your “value” to them in their mind. It also differentiates. Most importantly, it gives the client a reason to be available for you when you make the follow up call. If you don’t think a card will get there fast enough then you can send an email. Just be aware that an email doesn’t have nearly the same impact as a handwritten note.
- Follow up When You Said You Would
Don’t get your relationship started on the wrong foot. Call them back or see them when you said you would. The promptness and respect you show on a follow up call reflects on you, your company and your products.
- Build A Strong Opening Statement
So many salespeople stumble on the opening statement when they follow up. Here’s a sample of a weak follow up opening statement:
“Hey Julie, did you get my last email? The reason for my call is to see if we can possibly meet and discuss what we talked. Can we meet next week?”
This opening statement is rather routine and commonplace, and of course, pretty weak. It will do nothing to position you or differentiate you. You’re going to be perceived as yet another run-of-the-mill salesperson, just looking for a sale. You’ve got to be distinctive and you’ve got to be stronger or you’ll simply get lost in the crowd.
Take the time to build follow up opening statements and word texts that get you through the clutter. We want you to remind the client why you’re calling. Focus on the “pain” or the “gain” that was hinted at in your previous call.
Try something like this…
“Julie, this is Joe Buzzello calling from ________. When we spoke last week you had two concerns. First, you indicated that you were concerned about ________ and second, you said you wanted to change ________.”
Remind Julie why she allowed you to follow up with her. Prospects are busy and will forget your message. Your product may have been mildly interesting to them last week, but is soon forgotten. In your follow up statement you need to re-open the wound and remind the prospect of the pain or gain.
Continue on and present a clear and concise agenda of why you wish to meet with them. (Prospects like a clear, concise agenda.) They want to work with salespeople that are organized and won’t waste their time. They want someone to take control and move the process forward. This gives them confidence.
Try using word text like this…
“When we meet I’m going to show you one or two solutions. It’ll take less than 20 minutes and we’ll be able to determine the next steps if applicable. I’m going to be in your area next week. Does Tuesday or Wednesday look better?”
Notice that we use a RELEASE statement that is incorporated into our follow up word text. We indicate that we will, “determine the next steps if applicable.” It’s a nice touch and always reduces client resistance.
- Be Persistent but Professional
If you follow this method, your appointment count with qualified decision makers will spike up greatly. But, there are still those that, for one reason or another, don’t respond or don’t give you a face-to-face meeting.
If the prospect isn’t available or doesn’t respond, you can leave a message so that they know you called on time (when you said you would).
Try something that sounds like this…
“Hi Julie, it’s ____ from ________ calling for our 8:45 appointment. Sounds like you might be tied up for a few moments. I’ll call this afternoon after 2:00 if I haven’t heard from you. In the meantime, my number is ______”
Next, call her at 2:00. If the prospect is still not there leave another message:
“Hi Julie, it’s ___ from ___. Looks like you’re still tied up. Please give me a call when you’re free at —– —–, otherwise I will call you later this week.”
So far you’ve been persistent without being a pest.
Now, give the prospect a chance to call. A good rule of thumb is a day or two. That’s plenty of time and space for the prospect to call you and more importantly, it doesn’t make you look desperate.
Here’s what you can say when you do call back…
“Julie, it’s _____ from ________I called a couple of times but as of yet we have not been able to connect. When we last spoke you where concerned about ________ and wanted to _______. I ‘m sure you don’t want to miss the opportunity to look at some of our solutions, so, my number is _______.”
Notice how we remind the prospect of the call but we don’t make her feel guilty or embarrassed. We use the phrase “…but as of yet we have not been able to connect.”
Also, notice that we remind the prospect about their early talks and the “pain” the prospect was experiencing. In effect, we want Julie to think, “Oh… yeah…that issue is still of interest to me…I better a get back to him.”
If this doesn’t work, make four more follow up calls but space them out over the next four weeks. This shows diligence but the calls are spread far enough apart so that the prospect doesn’t feel like she’s being stalked. If there’s no response after that, you probably won’t get one but at least you took a good stab at it and you can recycle the lead in six months.
Look, plain and simple, many of your best appointments will come after the 5th, 6th or even 7th attempt. Having solid follow up methods will separate you from the dozens of other salespeople who call on the same prospects as you. This gives you a distinctive edge. It’s only a cold call ONCE and all of the magic happens—the PAYOFF occurs—when you know how to follow up like a pro!
If you haven’t had a chance to read my book, The CAP Equation, A Foolproof Formula for Unlimited Success in Sales, please click on the link below. It’s now available on Amazon: http://amzn.to/1CdFi2t
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Joe Buzzello is a nationally recognized expert on direct selling and sales leadership. He has built legacy sales teams and experienced unprecedented success in individual and business-to-business markets as well as the network marketing industry. Joe has held executive level positions for Fortune 500 companies, but he has never strayed far from the art and science of selling, which he loves. In early 2014, Joe began writing, speaking, and coaching through his proprietary platform, The CAP Equation©. Please visit Joe at: http://www.CAPequation.com