As sales leaders & salespeople, how do you feel on the 4th or 5th time that you call a prospect to let her know that you are “just following up”? Be serious. Raise your hand if you feel like a stalker. Keep your hand up if you feel a little bit more of your ego starting to disintegrate every single time you make one of these calls. Stinks, doesn’t it?
You might be asking yourself, “Yeah, it stinks, but If I don’t say that, what am I supposed to say? How is she supposed to know I am following up? How am I supposed to ask for the business?”
And the answer is: start setting better expectations (we call them Ground Rules). Start setting crystal clear expectations as to what will happen next. That’s all the “Just following up” debacle is, a direct result of not setting better expectations. A by-product of weak Ground Rules. And that does stink!
If you reduce “selling” right down to the ridiculous, that’s all it is. Selling: A series of expectations & understandings (bought into by seller & prospect) every step along the way. And the Rockstar salespeople that you compete with have it down to a tee. Now it’s your turn.
Start ending all of your “selling events” (phone calls, meetings, demos, trials, presentations, proposals, quotes, etc.) with a clear understanding of what happens next. You must ask. The “next step” may be another phone call, another meeting, more information exchanged, a decision to move forward, a decision to not move forward &/or many variations of all of these. That’s OK. You need to know these things. You know what happens when you don’t know these things… a voicemail that sounds like this, “Ah… hi Jenn… Glenn here… just following up on the information I sent over. Have you had time to review it? Please call me at your earliest convenience. I look forward to working with you.” Don’t you dare say this, EVER!
Why, ‘don’t you dare?’ Stay with me… When you say, “Just following up” you sound like every other ankle-bender out there. You put yourself in the same bucket of every salesperson that follows up with your prospect that DOES NOT ADD VALUE. This could be your competition & anyone else calling on her. It’s old-school, tired & stale & DOES NOT WORK anymore. And you know it.
So, what do you do? Ground Rules.
End your last “selling event” with a question that helps you & your prospect understand the next steps. For example:
1. When should I call you to discuss . . . ? (write down the date & time & be anal-retentive about calling on that date & time)
2. OK, good meeting. You agreed to do this, I agreed to do that. What’s my next step look like?
3. Attached is the outline of our deliverables. What day & time should I call to determine next steps?
4. I’ll send such & such document to you by close of business today. What happens next?
What you are doing is establishing clear next steps (Ground Rules). Once the Ground Rules have been established the next step for you is crystal clear — you take the mystery out of it (no more “Just following up”)
Your call or email can sound like this:
1. Hi, Jenn, Glenn here. Calling to determine next steps on the Binford 5000 Project…
2. Hi, Jenn, Glenn here. As we agreed I am calling to schedule a meeting to discuss the Binford 5000 Project…
3. Hi, Jenn, Glenn here. As we agreed I am calling to continue the conversation about your Binford 5000
4. Hi, Jenn, Glenn here. As we agreed I am calling to schedule dates as you mentioned you’d be ready to go on the 12th…
And for the projects already in the pipeline where Ground Rules were not set or the customer broke the selling cycle (let’s face it, things happen . . . )
5. Hi Jenn, Glenn here. Calling to close the loop on the Binford 5000 quote package we submitted to you. Since we have not heard much should we stop working on finding you a solution?
Beats the hell out of the alternative.