97% of all sales are not made on the first call. It takes five to ten exposures (follow-ups) to a prospect to make the first sale. The prospect may not actually say "no" each time, but each time you follow-up and the prospect doesn't buy, he's saying: "not now, buddy; do something else for me; I'm still shopping around; I haven't met with my partner; try again later; in short, you haven't sold me yet."
As a professional salesperson you better have what it takes to persevere through the follow-up process and not quit. Be willing to put forth the effort to get to the last "no," or consider taking a job in a warehouse with a salary.
Here are some follow-up guidelines to ensure early closing success...
* Know the real reasons your prospect wants your product.
* Know the real reasons your prospect does not want your product.
* Know your prospects hot buttons (things you think will make the prospect buy), and work with them in constructing your follow-up plan.
* Present new information relative to the sale each time you call or visit.
* Be creative in your style and presentation manner.
* Be sincere about your desire to help the customer first, and earn the commission second.
* Be direct in your communication. Beating around the bush will only frustrate the prospect (and probably cause him to buy elsewhere). Answer all questions. Don't patronize the prospect.
* Be friendly. People like to buy from friends.
* Use humor...Be funny. People love to laugh. Making your prospect laugh is a great way to establish common ground and rapport.
* When in doubt, sell the prospect for her reasons, not yours.
* Don't be afraid to ask for the sale each time.
If there were a formula for following up it would be...their reasons + new information + creative + sincere + direct + friendly + humor = SALE...but there isn't an exact formula. Every follow-up is different, and elements from the above guidelines must be chosen as called for.
Here are a few lead-in lines you might try so that you don't feel uneasy about how to start the conversation...
* I discovered something that I believe to be an important factor in your decision...
* I just faxed you a letter from a customer who had an experience like yours...
* Something new has occurred that I thought you would like to know about...
* There has been a change in status...
* I was thinking about you, and called to see if you found out about...
Don't say "I called to see if you got my letter, proposal, info or sample"...it sounds dumb...and it gives the prospect a way out. If he doesn't want to talk to you he'll say, "No, I never got it." Where does that leave you? Nowhere. Why not try: "I sent you some (name the stuff) the other day and I wanted to go over a couple of things with you personally, because they weren't self-explanatory..."
Some salespeople fear that they're "bugging" the prospect if they call too often. If you feel that way it's for two reasons
1. You haven't established enough rapport and have limited access.
2. Your follow-ups are about selling and not about helping.
It's likely you won't bug the prospect if...He's a salesperson himself; you have something new, creative, or funny to say; you're short and to the point; he's genuinely interested in your product or service; he returns your calls right away; or, he likes you.
It's likely you will bug the prospect if...You call more than three times without a returned call; you ask dumb or pushy questions (probably because you didn't listen well in the first place); you are perceived as insincere; you exert pressure too soon or too often; or, you are in any way rude to the prospect or anyone on his staff.
Follow-up is another word for sale. Your ability to follow-up will determine your success in sales. Ask any professional salesperson the secret for success, he or she will answer...persistence.
Jeffrey Gitomer is the author of The Sales Bible, Knock Your Socks Off Selling and Customer Satisfaction is Worthless; Customer Loyalty is Priceless. To order Jeffrey's many books and/or audios and videos, go to www.yoursuccessstore.com. (c) 1999 All Rights Reserved.