Hi Everyone let me tell you a story about why you must follow up. Like most sales professionals I understand the need to do follow ups and they take a significant portion of my time. I recently closed a $30,000 order which in itself is no big deal – what is notable is what it actually took to get the order. After presenting the customer with a quote I learned we offered the same price on a 36 month term that another vendor offered on a month to month basis. Our technology was overall better and the customer wanted to go with us but we had to do a bit better on price. By working with our internal team, I was able to secure an additional 8% discount and provided a new quote.
Over a 5 week period leading up to the end of our business year, I actually did 22 separate follow ups and finally the contract was signed. I used a combination of email, voice mail, a personal visit and even text messaging to make this happen. One of the things we have to be sensitive to is not overstepping in our followups and frustrating the customer. So am I unique or different than other sales pros? Watch this 45 second video to see for yourself!
When I met the customer in person about half way through this process I actually said to him,
“FU is in my DNA. To me it means follow up and to you it probably means, well you know, FU!”
He laughed and right then I knew he was okay with me reminding him to keep this moving. He is incredibly busy and it was coming up to his year end and the holiday season. In the end it worked out as a Win Win for both of us and we have since even done an upgrade to the original service.
There are at least 4 lessons to this story.
- A No is not always a No so make sure to try to understand why you did not get the business. Many sales people would have taken the first no as a loss and moved on. By taking a few minutes to find out why we did not win the business I learned we could still win it but had to go back to the drawing board.
- Working with the internal team is critical. It sounds simple but sometimes getting that extra few discount points can be a real struggle especially over what many considered a small piece of business. Treat the internal team like customers and ask for their support. Be prepared to defend your discount request and you will often win out in the end.
- After a number of follow ups with no decision too many sales people just let it slide. I treat a non answer as a delayed YES. Until the customer tells me NO I keep working to close the business and even when they say NO I go back to lesson 1 above.
- Finally, never ever give up. If you truly believe you have provided a good offer with a strong Value Proposition then stick to your guns and keep working to win the business. Even if you ultimately lose the business make a note to revisit this with the customer in 90 days to make sure everything has played out the way they wanted. It does not happen often, but at the same time it is not uncommon that the vendor who originally won the business did a really poor job of either implementing or supporting or billing and the customer has had enough and is willing to replace them at all costs..
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