Written by Ari Greenbaum, Co-founder of conXpros
If you read my last article titled Fact or Fiction? You Should Expect to Close the Deal on the First Visit, you are probably wondering why I am now writing another article about following up. So, which one is it; should I be closing on the first visit or making follow up calls? The best answer is both! As much as I am a believer in the one-call-close, I am also a realist and know that not every potential customer can be made a client on the first call. There are some that require time and nurturing before they are ready to hire you. Although these should be a large minority of your calls, it is important to understand how to effectively follow through with clients not just follow up. This article will help better understand the differences and provide the tools necessary to close more deals.
The mistake that many sales people make is that they are only contacting the prospective client to do just that, follow up. Often this is exactly how they present the call, “I was just calling to follow up with you on the proposal.” Does following up offer any value to the customer? Does it help them to make a better and more informed decision? Are they more confident that you are the best option for their project or needs because you called to “follow up”? Of course not! The only thing the customer hears is that you want their business and you are doing the obligatory follow up to see if they are ready. If this has been your approach, you are likely fed up with following up.
In my opinion the follow through begins before you leave the potential client on the first visit. After passionately and persistently trying to move the customer to a one call “yes” and exhausting all available options, but before burning the opportunity to the ground, start setting up the follow through. Inform the customer of exactly what you will be doing when you reach back out to them (my suggestion is to set the follow through as a visit not a phone call) and your intentions. Let them know that you can respect their decision to explore all options and/or think about their choices before making a final decision. Tell them that when you reconnect, you will help to answer any questions, review the pros and cons of your offer versus other estimates, and make any necessary adjustments to meet their need and ensure that they know you truly value and want their business. Set a firm day and time that you will meet next and confirm it with the customer at least 2 times. Cordially wish them well and leave knowing that you did everything in your power to get the deal done, but no one wins them all. Go into your next appointment with full confidence and vigor. I recommend sending an email later that same day to thank them for their consideration and time, as well as remind them of the next meeting date and time.
Now that the table is set, it is time to do exactly what you said you would do. Your approach to the second meeting should be simple as the agenda was already created at the conclusion of your last visit. Follow through by inquiring about any questions they have about your proposal as well as how it compares to others. Identify what the customer likes about the other proposal in comparison to yours. Attempt to bridge the gaps as much as possible to eliminate any reason for them to favor other options over yours. Once you have successfully bridged these gaps, summarize the benefits and value you bring to the project and confidently ask for the business. Following through on what you promised gives you the control and puts you in the driver’s seat to win the customer over. Following up gives you no control and leaves everything up to the customer.
The key to making this work for you is ensuring you have a process and follow through on that plan. There is not a person in the world that closes every opportunity as a sale. However, using the one call close approach combined with a strong follow through process, you will significantly increase your closing rates. Remember, you should not rely on the follow through as your “go to”, rather it is an additional tool to help add more business where there was not any in the past. Now ask yourself, “am I following up or following through?” It is never too late to make the shift to a process that will bring you more success and more business.