Are you and your sales team truly following up on your prospects in a timely manner? Do not assume! Take a fresh look to find out if the follow up to your prospects is timely and effective.
We often hear from salespeople about how they do not have enough leads and upon inspection, we always find prospects or leads that have not been followed up on.  This is often overlooked mainly because there is a constant focus on getting new prospects and not enough focus on ensuring the prospects we have are followed up throughout the sales process.  And, if you assume this is not a problem, you will never take a look.  For example, ask any of your sales team members if they follow up on all their leads and the answer will always be yes.  Ok, so if you just go with that, it can be a trap as you have not really LOOKED to see how timely or effectively all prospects are being followed up on. This is how you do it effectively:
Once the prospect is in the sales process, we need to continually be moving them toward closing.  The sales profession is very much driven by flows.  Prospects flow through the process and then are closed.  Anything which stops or slows down the flow is a problem that you need to handle as this causes a low volume of sales/income.  When you truly look at the follow up of all your prospects, ensure you are looking at each prospect to see what is the exact next step necessary to move of one of the prospects forward in the sales process. Whatever the next steps are for each prospect, they need to be scheduled and handled on a daily basis.  Your daily, weekly and monthly plans for sales should consist of each current prospect and doing the next step which will move them forward in the sales process. It takes real discipline to ensure each prospect is followed up on daily and/or weekly to ensure that the next step is completed.  If they do not have a next step than this too is considered a slow or stop as you cannot move forward until you have decided the next step to take for that prospect.  NEVER be in a “maybe” regarding the next step for a prospect.  Take a fresh look at the existing prospects and handle any slow or stop to them flowing through your sales process in a timely manner.
In the minds of the customers, your follow up during the sales process with them is like an audition, showing them that you will (or won’t) follow up and stay in communication with them after they purchase your products or services.
Imagine your mother being interested in purchasing a new car (due to her current car being very old and in need of a large, expensive repair) and asking for your help and advice on this. Let’s say you went with her to the dealership so you could test drive the model she was looking at.  Given the economy, she talked about making the purchase of an American made car in support of American jobs.  As soon as you walked into the dealership, you were greeted and helped immediately by the salesperson. You then told the salesperson what you were interested in.
He proceeded to show you a couple of different styles and features but wasn’t knowledgeable enough about them so ended up getting his Manager to help.  The Manager was more knowledgeable and quickly figured out that he did not have the exact model you were looking for there on his lot.  He said that he would have a new shipment of models in the next couple of days.  He told the salesperson to take down your information and contact you when the new shipment was in.  This sounds reasonable and your Mother is happy with this for now.  So you go home and she agrees to wait until the shipment comes in.
You then go out of town on a business trip and call her about 10 days later to find out that she had purchased another vehicle from a different dealer (not American made).  She was really happy with her new purchase. You then ask her what happened with the car from the American made dealer and she tells you that the salesperson never called her back or followed up in any way and neither did the Manager!  So after a week, she went to another dealership that she heard was good and they took very good care of her, was knowledgeable and showed her exactly what she wanted.  She did not buy on that first visit either but the salesperson followed up, answered more questions and invited her back in for another look.  By then, she was feeling very well taken care of and so she went ahead and worked out the purchase.  Of course, you are very happy she was taken care of but are probably disappointed in the American made dealership for the lack of follow-up and care in your mother.
Then imagine, that not only had the dealership taken great care of her during the sales process but also had a great program in place where they invite all of their clients who have purchased in the last 30 days to a free dinner at the dealership.   At this dinner, she was again taken care of by the salesperson that sold her the car and then introduced to the Service Manager who would be taking care of her service for as long as she owned her new car.  The Service Manager then introduced her to the team of technicians that would be doing the work on her car as well.  The food itself was also pretty good. What’s the result of all this?  Within a week of the dinner, she sends 2 of her close friends to that same salesperson and probably many more in the future.
Analysis of this “audition” during the sales process:

  • The salesperson at the American made dealer was not interested enough to find out why your Mother was looking at a new vehicle.  Had he or the Manager asked, they would have found out that there was an urgency given the fact that her current vehicle was in need of a major repair and she would be replacing it.
  • The fact that there was not enough inventory in stock was not good and allowed your mother not to purchase then or even see and touch the actual car she was interested in.
  • The salesperson and Manager both agreed to follow up and let her know when the new stock would arrive and neither kept this agreement.  This is where they “failed the audition”. If you can’t keep basic agreements in the sales process, how can the prospect trust that you will follow through after they purchase the product or service?

The second dealer had the inventory in stock, was interested enough to find out exactly why she needed the car and continued to follow up and make sure she got exactly what she wanted.
This is “customer service” during the sales process.  Feeling very comfortable and taken care of, she made the purchase and then based on the follow up and customer service after she made the purchase, told the same story to several people who then told several others and you get the idea.
Does Follow-up Matter? You decide…
2% of sales are made on the first contact
3% of sales are made on the second contact
5% of sales are made on the third contact
10% of sales are made on the fourth contact
80% of sales are made on the fifth to twelfth contact
And yet…
48% of sales people never follow up with a prospect
25% of sales people make a second contact and stop
12% of sales people make more than three contacts
Take a fresh look at your sales process and find anything that may be slowing down or stopping the flow and get these points handled.  Also ensure that the next step with each prospect is known and timely follow up is effectively done with each one.  This is not a onetime look, this is a continuous process to keep in. Most salespeople will appreciate the help to keep their prospects on track and speed up their closing time.  Also, remember that customer service starts when the sales process starts and continues for the lifetime of that relationship.  The follow-up after the sale is completed is vital and also the key to immediately having new referrals and leads to work on.  A salesperson that really understands follow up and practices this with their prospects and clients should never have a shortage of new leads because they end up with a continuous flow of referrals.
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