The following article is an excerpt from Jeff Shore’s newest book, Follow Up and Close the Sale, coming from McGraw-Hill July 14. Click here to pre-order your copy and unlock Jeff’s exclusive pre-order bonuses.
Do you close every sale on the first customer interaction? If so, congrats! For us mere mortals, we must view follow-up as our response to hearing “not yet.”
In its best form, follow-up is a continual conversation that begins at the first customer interaction and continues through the purchase process.
Emotions drive buying decisions more than anything else. As time goes on, our emotional altitude decreases, And decisions are more driven by logic than emotion.
This move into the analytics zone can cause us to become mentally paralyzed by data and details. The result? A slower decision to purchase, if that a decision is made at all.
This means, as sales professionals, we must do everything possible to shorten the buying cycle and get to the close as quickly as possible.
It might take days, weeks, or months for a prospect to make a final decision, but you want to envision the entirety of the sales process as one long conversation. Your purpose in that extended conversation is to fuel the emotional momentum.
Too many salespeople see the sales process as a series of disconnected conversations. The various sales discussions you will hold along the way should not be seen as a succession of independent conversations but rather as one long dialogue.
The best way to do that is by planning for an extended chat from the start. Your follow-up will be so much stronger if you are planning for your next conversation during the initial presentation.
And during that follow-up conversation you should be planning what happens next . . . and so on. This is a progressive strategy formed in real time as you look for ways to set up future follow-up discussions.
My friend Mike Kunkle puts this quite nicely: “The best advice I can offer for following up with a prospect after the initial appointment is to set the follow-up meeting during that first appointment.
A mentor shared the acronym HAM-BAM with me over 25 years ago. It stands for Have A Meeting, Book A Meeting.
In between the meetings, it helps to send a summary of your notes from the first meeting, detailing what you learned—especially about any challenges they’re experiencing and what they hope to accomplish and why—and including the agenda, goals, and expected outcomes for the next meeting.”
How soon is too soon when it comes to follow-up? It depends on what you are doing, but when done properly, it is never too soon to be memorable.
My hot tip? I call it “taillight follow-up.”
Suppose you are in a retail environment and you can literally see your customer pull away from your parking lot. You see the taillights. (The principle still works if you see customers walking away or if you’ve just left their office.)
Pull out your cell phone and fire off a text message that sounds something like this:
“I enjoyed that conversation. I’ll call you by 10 a.m. tomorrow.”
What did you just accomplish?
- You let customers know they matter.
- You stood out from everyone else.
- You confirmed the appointment for the next step.
- You demonstrated you’re a person who takes action.
- You showed respect with immediate follow-up.
- You put your phone number onto their cell phone.
When you change your mindset about the power and purpose of follow-up, you’ll begin to see your customers sustain their excitement about what brought them to you in the first place.
Play the long game, and view follow-up as the connective tissue throughout your entire sales cycle. Make it happen today!