As I travel the country working with companies of all sizes, in virtually all industries, one of the most common things that I see is, most salespeople could use significant improvement at Follow-Up. I have seen many that are talented at other facets of the sales process, but then their Follow-Up process alone keeps them from reaching their true potential. Where are they falling short? Often, it’s the lack of a specific, defined, strategic process that they follow day in and day out. Since this is a “Five Minute” insight, I won’t break down what that could or should look like as that is based on a number of different factors and it would take a while. What I would like to focus on today is more about the psychological why. More specifically, why salespeople can be apprehensive to have an often and consistent Follow-Up approach, and how that only hurts their results over the long run.
Although I do work with companies that sell products/services where Prospect buying decisions can be made quickly, most of my clients have sales cycles that take weeks, months and in some cases, even years. This can make Follow-Up the most important aspect of the sales process as it is what happens during all of that time between the appointment/proposal and close that most determines the outcome. So, why do salespeople take their time or wait to follow up with people? Beyond not having a defined process that makes them accountable to doing it, they are often worried that they are bothering the Prospect. They have the mindset that they are serving them well by giving them lots of time and space to make a decision. The truth is, it is quite the contrary.
Sales is about trust. Unless we are selling a pack of gum, a big part of the Prospect’s decision has to do with “What’s it going to be like if I choose to work with this company/salesperson? If I have a problem, who is going to go to bat and work hard for me?” It’s important that we realize that every Prospect is always comparing us against someone or something else. Even if that something else is not buying anything at all. And who will they trust to be on it and after it for them when they need it? Not the person that started a relationship with them and then gave them space. They are going to trust the person that consistently follows up with them and asks if they can help in their process. There is a specific art to it and if done right, it does not make the Prospect feel bothered, it makes them trust the salesperson. If as salespeople we don’t show a strong effort to bring on a new client for even our own benefit as well, why would they believe that if they choose us, we will provide that strong effort for them? Our Follow-Up process is our ultimate audition for the Prospect. It’s crucial that we create a strong and consistent process so that they can see how great we are going to be when they choose us.
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