Follow up is the most underused tool in a sales professional’s toolkit. As you connect with key people the way you follow-up is critical. Frankly, I’m on a campaign to reinvigorate and revolutionise the follow-up process in client relationships. So let me ask you, have you ever said these phrases? Come on…be honest:
- Hi I’m just calling to follow-up…
- Hi, thought I’d catch up with you about…
- I was just touching base from our last conversation...
A number of sales people have these same old tired statements or surprisingly forget to follow-up at all. I was told early in my career, 'don’t follow-up' unless you’ve agreed to it already, there are commitments established or you have something truly of value to share. Anything outside of this and you become 'human spam'… unrecognised, not of value and annoying.’ I can’t point fingers here as I’ve been guilty of being all three, all in the name of persistence.
Why do so many sales people deliver such poor follow-up? I’ve noticed five main reasons many sales people fail at follow-up.
- They believe it’s a numbers game
- They call because they’re hoping their client will buy something they haven’t earned (tough one I know)
- They hadn’t set clear actions on the last call and now have to back track to get commitment.
- They don’t actually know where to take the conversation next (unprepared).
- They don’t know what’s important to the other person.
Harsh I know but if you really think about it, it’s true for a lot of sales people. Maybe even you. Most sales people have no idea they have a pre or post-sales follow-up process. Very few have a language to articulate it. We simply call it follow-up or, worse yet, account management.
You’re told to stay close, build relationships and find more opportunities. Perhaps that may have got you this far. But to quote the great book by Marshall Goldsmith "What got you here won’t get you there”.
I’d like to share a simple framework for thinking about how you turn your follow-up into a value-up. This can be used for new prospects but is mainly focused on taking spending clients on a journey where they benefit and, in the end, want to spend more money with you. The main reason follow-up for many isn’t effective is because it doesn’t:
- Demonstrate any intention to deliver continual value
- Show the power of how your service/product is benefiting your client
- Build on commitments for future purchase
I’d like to introduce you to the new follow-up model or value-up model.
The ingredients to great follow-up need to be:
- Intentional – specific and mutually agreed
- Valuable – something that can benefit your client today
- Future focused – helps to extend the conversation to a view of wider partnership
- Collaborative – there is committed action for both parties to succeed
There it is. The raw ingredients for the most powerful follow-up conversations you’ll have.
What could this conversation look like using this model?
“Hi Bob, glad we’ve scheduled this call as I was thinking about our conversation. Although we’re already working together I had some ideas I believe will significantly help you and your team.
We thought about some of the key things that tend to slow progress with many of the clients we work with. We’ve built a video guide that will help you and the team more easily navigate and apply the system to your department. This will reduce the implementation schedule from 5 to 3 days, saving everyone 100s of hours and potentially 1000s of dollars.
We also want to ensure we’re not tied to just this implementation. We also want to think about the growth of the company and what we might need to plan for later.
Would you agree, planning for this together would help? Great! Let’s set a time to meet with you and the team so we can work out what role we’ll play in making this happen”.
Go ahead and give this process a go. Choose a client you need to connect and follow-up with and follow this process. It will change your approach, perspective and outcomes.
By Jermaine Edwards, Founder and Author of the Key Account Hack. As a customer growth speaker and coach. Jermaine helps Key Account Managers, Managers of account teams, Solopreneurs and businesses around the world differentiate their value for retention and see up to 30% - 40% sales growth every year from their key customers. Using the key account hack system you access a proven step by step guide that leads you to deeper and more influential client relationships and massive customer sales growth in just 90 days. For more information visit his website, Twitter or LinkedIn.