By Ryan Taft
I have never met a sales professional that didn’t agree that follow-up is essential to a healthy sales career. It doesn’t matter if you sell, cars, homes, medical supplies or dog food. Follow-up is essential.
Of course, we can all agree that follow-up isn’t created equally. My experience as a consumer and as a sales coach is that there are three common mistakes made in follow-up. They are:
1. Follow-up happens too long after the initial sales call
My wife and I had visited a new home sales community a few years back. We walked into a sales center in the Phoenix area and enjoyed our experience with a sales professional I will call Julie. Julie explained the community to us and showed us her model homes.
Julie asked me for my contact info and permission to follow-up, which I thought was great. Three weeks after the visit we got a card in the mail from Julie. Did you catch that? Three weeks!
You have probably heard that you should follow-up within 24-48 hours so you know that three weeks is way too long for follow-up. By that point your customer has moved on to other opportunities. That being said, even 24-48 hours is now considered too long. We live in a much faster paced world.
So how long after the initial call should you follow-up? Fours hours. That is when the emotional connection to your product and/or service starts to die down. If you wait longer than four hours, you risk losing the emotional momentum you likely had in the initial meeting.
2. The follow-up focuses on the company or product
You might be thinking, “How else would I follow-up?” Well, let me ask you, what is the most interesting topic to your customer? According to the classic book How To Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie, the most interesting topic is themselves.
Going back to the follow-up Melissa and I received from Julie, it read something like this:
“Dear Ryan and Melissa,
Thank you for visiting our community at Vista Point where we have 15 different floor plans to choose from and only six homesites still available. I would love to schedule a return visit with you. My days off are Tuesday and Wednesday. Please let me know if you would like to come back in.
Here’s the key: Personalize your follow-up so that it is about the customer, not your product or offering. If Julie had discovered that Melissa was chased in our neighborhood by two men and had to frantically call 911 (which is a true story), her follow-up should have had empathy and concern to help us solve our issue. Instead, it was about floor plans and homesites.
3. Follow-Up often doesn’t happen at all
According to Insidesales.com, 50 percent of sales that happen after the initial sales call go to the person who follows-up first. In other words, it’s a bit of a race.
My experience here is that most don’t follow-up at all. It’s a noisy world out there and you have to become the most visible option to your customer. And here’s the reality…it takes a lot of work.
“Today I will do what others won’t, so tomorrow I can accomplish what others won’t”
– Jerry Rice
When you consistently avoid these three pitfalls in follow-up, your sales will dramatically increase. When that happens, you will to follow-up and wonder why you didn’t do more of it throughout your career. Now go crush it.