If you asked any Sales Manager or Sales Expert they would all talk about the importance of follow-ups. I am here to tell you they are all wrong.
Whether you call it following up, checking in or touching base, it is a flawed approach and shows a lack of understanding of how to guide the decision-making process.
Every day all over the world salespeople is contacting their prospects to gain a status update. This approach is reactive and makes a naive assumption that their prospect knows HOW to buy. We need to understand that we may know how to Sell but our prospects do not know how to Buy. No company has a training class on how to evaluate vendors, make product selections and allocate the companies precious capital. The last thing company's want for is their employees to use their time looking to spend the company’s money.
You are probably asking yourself what is better than following up. Well, first you need to understand how companies make product/purchasing decisions. Once you understand the HOW companies make decisions it becomes our job to guide the players within the client company on how and what needs to get done. So instead of asking for status, we are exchanging what THEY need for what WE need. Instead of following up we are guiding with scheduled contact appointments and actions.
Knowing how to guide a prospective company through the decision-making process and all the way to a committed purchase is a skill that few salespeople understand. We are trained on our product, presentation skills, questions skills and insight skills, but no one talks about how companies make product selections and how to guide that process. Most sales resemble two virgins trying to have sex for the first time. Both partners know what feels good to them but neither understand what they should be doing. This is why so many deals start off strong with interest, need, and excitement. As time goes on without either the prospect knowing how to make change happen and the salesperson depending on the prospect to update them on what needs to get done, the deal dies a slow death.
Here are some ideas of actions and milestones to use instead of just checking in:
Proof of concept
Meeting with a reference account
Home office executive visit
Peer to Peer meetings
Building a Business Justification
All of the above activities bring you into the decision process with deadline-based actions and progresses the decision forward. These actions guide the prospect and add value to them and give us a reason to have a constant cadence of communication. The cadence of contact gives the deal momentum and turns the decision into HOW instead of and IF they are purchasing your product. Of course, you can stick with just following up, checking in or touching base and hope your prospect can figure it out on their own...
"How and Why Large Companies Make Product Selections"
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