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Posted: June 18, 2014

Top sales tips for the follow-up

It's where the bucks are

Sam Dobbins

How much money are you leaving on the sales table?  How many prospects disappear without your knowledge as to why?  You designed a great marketing campaign last quarter.  Why aren't the results what you wanted or expected?

At the core, the answer to the questions above can be summed up in one thought—follow-up.

So many times impressive marketing programs fall flat because dimensional packages aren't sent when promised, or prospects that were tepid in nature slipped through the cracks of program administration.  And sales teams are notorious for letting "the big one" get away.

A few simple steps will catch those slip-ups and have you and your promotional team sitting pretty on a new set of enthusiastic leads.  Here are some things you can do:

COMPLETE PROJECT PLANNING SETS YOU OFF ON THE RIGHT TRACK

It may seem like a waste of time to spend a couple of valuable hours "sitting in a meeting," but without a shared vision, the promotion team cannot execute a plan to its best potential.  Manage the meeting with clear and specific goals, however, and you have a wealth of potential success you can tap into.  In that meeting be sure to outline and clarify the steps of your campaign.  Points to consider include:

• What the main goals of the campaign are
• The parameters of new client requirements in terms of geography, size of business, where they might be in the sales cycle.
• Who specifically you want to reach (develop personas as well as title lists)
• How you are going to reach your prospects in terms of telephone, email, postal service, advertising, and social media messaging. 
Remember, it is almost impossible to follow-up on a lead if you have no ideas on what your follow-up messaging consists of, both in form and in content.

CONTACT MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS CAN'T DO THE WORK ALONE

There is a vast array of contact management systems available to businesses of every size these days.  Many of these systems, when being sold to you, seem like the answer to all your needs.  Product demos show you mind-bending tips and tricks that make it seem like all you have to do is download your data into the software and things will run themselves.  Not so. 

Human involvement, even with the strongest tools at your fingertips, is still the best bang for your buck.  Human involvement leads to the common sense that software does not have, and so it is very important that when you implement a contact management system, you fully invest in training staff to use it properly.  If your sales and marketing teams don't use the tools you provide, much of your promotional efforts are going to fall by the wayside.

Be sure to implement tasking and calendar functions with your contact management system, and follow up with your team to make sure they're comfortable using these two functions completely.  There is nothing worse than having a client or prospect telephone you because their representative hasn't called them back after three or four requests.

BASIC COMMON COURTESY ENSURES LOYAL LEADS AND CUSTOMERS

It's amazing in this day and age that common courtesy even needs to be raised as an issue, but there you have it.  People lose a lot of money just by brushing off "unimportant contacts" or "forgetting the follow-up" on messages left. 

Remind your team weekly that people do business with people they like. It's that simple.  Saying "please" and "thank you" in a conversation is impressive.  So is avoiding the use of certain offensive colloquialisms, or obtuse jargon.

Teach your team to notate the promises they make (the use of a symbol in their meeting notes will nudge them in the right direction), and to deliver on those promises.

THREE FOLLOW-UP STEPS EVERY PROMOTION TEAM MEMBER MUST DO

Our contacts are gold to our sales efforts.  One of the best ways to keep your contacts happy and engaged with your sales and marketing teams is to acknowledge those contacts regularly.  Be sure to set enough time in your work week for these important thank you efforts:

1. Thank you by phone – Touch base with people in your database on a regular basis, if for no other reason than to say "thanks for doing business with us," or "checking to see how we can serve your company better." Then listen.  With all the social media out there, everyone's talking.  If  you are the listener, you will often garner better industry news and solidify your business relations in this small but valuable approach to business relations.

2. Thank you by mail – It's true.  A hand-written note has become such a rarity that people save the item much longer than any email or verbal acknowledgement.  Slip your note in a brightly colored envelop and the admin staff will practically be running to make sure it goes to the right person.

3. Thank you by email – Okay. You have a busy day. If sending a personal handwritten note isn't possible, at least send a quick email after a good meeting.  The message should acknowledge the reader, and outline any actions from the meeting.  Then be sure to calendar those actions and follow-up. 
 

Sam Dobbins is the founder and president of the Cold Call King, LLC., formed in 2004.  He is an active member of Business Marketing Association-Denver. Learn more at www.coldcallking.com. Reach Sam at sam@coldcallking.com or (303) 954-8553.

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