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The Fortune is in the Follow Up

Imagine you meet a casual acquaintance – at the market or at a networking event -and he suggests you have lunch sometime.

You reply, “Sure.”

Of course that time never comes.

It’s a nice way of saying, I like you but I’m not committing to spending time with you. This often happens when your customer says he will get back to you and never does.

Immediate follow up will shorten your sales cycle. The longer people stay in the purchasing process, the longer they have to lose their emotional connection to you and your product. They retreat to their analytical thinking brain and often decide not to decide.

The best advice I can offer for booking next steps is to set the follow-up meeting during your initial meeting. My mentor used to call this Ham Bam: Have a meeting -Book a meeting.

Plan to save time at the end of each call to recap, take a temperature check, and agree on next steps.  I can’t tell you how many sales reps run out of time at the end of their sales calls and then scramble their way through trying to book the next meeting only to be told “we’ll get back to you.”  Then….they disappear into the abyss.  In an hour-long virtual call or sales meeting,  I recommend allotting at least ten minutes for follow up.

The temperature check might sound like this:

  • “Based on what we’ve shown you so far, what part interests you the most? (ask all decision makers)
  • Are there any things I should clarify?
  • Are you interested enough to move forward and take next steps?

That last question is the most important. Rather than the old school assumptive close (what’s better for you, Tuesday or Thursday?), put the ball in their court.

After you take a temperature check, the next step is to make certain that the next action requires an effort from the customer. This marks the difference between compliance and commitment.

Let me define the difference between the two.

Compliance is a situation where the sale will continue yet the client didn’t commit to any action that requires effort on their part.

Commitment is a significant action that requires energy by the client either in the call or right after it that moves the sale toward a decision.

Several years back, I began talking with a customer who at first appeared to be my dream client. We met with Jason, the founder and CEO, two or three times by phone and the fourth time for lunch. He asked me to talk with two or three of the other executives.

Each time they seemed interested, each time I provided them with more information, and each time they asked me for more white papers, testimonials, and then a proposal.

Finally, I provided them with FREE access to our software for 45 days with the promise that I was their favorite vendor.

Then, they disappeared.

Too many sellers think the customer is taking an action step when they ask us to do something. This results in you spending your precious time writing practice proposals, and perhaps doing your prospects work for them at no charge, only to have them abandon you.

When the customer asks you to:

  • Send a proposal
  • Share testimonials
  • Outline your process
  • Give them free access or free something

You’re often getting compliance not commitment.

The solution is to set up a list of possible commitments in your pre call plan that require energy and action on the part of the client such as:

  • Commitment to meet with other stakeholders
  • Agree to go through a proposal with you
  • Share sensitive or critical documents

As author and VP of sales James Muir says, “The larger the sacrifice the client is willing to make to continue the process, the better indicator that they are serious about moving forward and therefore worth our investment of time.”

Make time in your virtual presentation to get your prospect to commit to next steps, and make certain those next steps get you closer to a sale.

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