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The Fortune Is In The Follow-Up

Sales are direct results of two things: attention and activity. The attention comes from marketing and gets your foot in the door. The activity is what closes the business and is often a direct result of the follow-up.

Here’s what I know about business follow-up: An object at rest will stay at rest unless acted on by an outside force. In sales, you must be that force.

How many millions of dollars in production are lost each year because of poor follow-up?

Having trained individuals and corporations for the past decade, the one consistent thing salespeople come to us for is help with their follow-up. They may struggle with a lack of confidence or with not knowing how to overcome objections. They may need help in how to follow up with the right amount of frequency and not seem like a nuisance.

We will break down our 10-touch follow-up system. But before we do that, let’s make sure to understand a few mindsets when it comes to following up.

We call these help list (suspects) and fight club (prospects) follow-ups.  

1. Help list follow-up = Get their attention (first meeting)

2. Fight club follow up = Keep their attention (7-15 touches to close)

There are two types of follow-up mindset. The reason these categories are important to keep separated is because we go into each type of follow-up with a different mindset.

Help List Mindset

The purpose of the help list follow-up is to have the initial conversation and decide whether your products or services can help this person. We do this by running all of our suspects through an opportunity filter.

» Do they share our same beliefs about the service we offer? Here is an example of a belief statement: I believe everyone deserves peace of mind when it comes to protecting life’s most cherished people and possessions.

» Do they want your services? Ask the right questions to create a want that will convert them into a motivated buyer.

» Do they fit your opportunity filter (traits) of someone you want to do business with? For example, are they humble, coachable, grateful and professional?

I look to do business with other people who are hungry, humble and coachable. Based on past experience, I’ve learned that when people aren’t aligned with our beliefs on the front end, then they almost always become a high-maintenance client. High-maintenance clients are transactional by nature and don’t value the service you provide.

In every first meeting, interview them based on shared beliefs as much as they are interviewing you on your services.

Fight Club Mindset

Once someone fits my opportunity filter, then it’s game on.

The fight club mindset is this.

» Are you just as good as or better than anyone else in your industry?

» Do you know your services help this person?

» Are they going to use someone in your market?

» Do you have shared beliefs about the services?

Then it’s your duty as a sales professional to fight to earn their business.

Now let’s take a look at some follow-up statistics. I’ve learned that 92 percent of salespeople don’t follow up more than four times, according to research from NuGrowth Solutions. Dr. Brian Williams, a researcher, consultant and sales leader, writes that it takes more than five follow-ups to make a sale 80 percent of the time. Nearly 70 percent of salespeople don’t have a follow-up customer relationship management system, according to sales coach Tom Ferry.

Amateur vs. Professional Follow-Up

Most salespeople make two or three weak follow-up attempts before giving up. We call this amateur follow-up.

An amateur follow-up sounds something like this:

» “I was just calling to check in.”

» “Can I answer any more questions?”

» You were on my list of people to call today.”

» “I woke up today thinking about you.” Which is just weird …

We define a professional follow-up as a “touch with value” that articulates how you help solve their problem better than anyone else. Money changes hands when problems are solved and energy is exchanged. Your positive energy must be greater than their objections or hesitations. 

Professionals are persistent in their follow-up. They have the confidence because they know they can help the prospect. We believe in high-touch, high-frequency once someone is on our fight club. We perform seven to 15 touches over a 90-day cycle to fight to earn the business. We also follow up within the first five minutes of someone calling us if we missed them. Motivated buyers do business with the first person they talk to 67 percent of the time, according to research from the National Association of Realtors.

Most people are poor at follow-up because they either didn’t follow through on an initial promise or they don’t have anything of value to say. Therefore they don’t want to be “a nuisance.”

10-Touch Follow-Up

In today’s attention-deficit world, it can be incredibly difficult to keep people’s attention. We have a 10-touch follow-up system that helps with just that.

1. Email (Soft Touch)

Send the prospect summary notes from the first meeting – the shorter the notes, the better. In this email, express excitement over the meeting, thank the prospect for their time and remind them of your shared beliefs.

Highlight two or three issues (buzzwords) you know you can help the prospect with (problems, needs or wants). Let the prospect know you will send them additional information in the next 2-3 days.

2. Content-Specific Touch (Hard Touch)

Send the prospect a value-add based on content for their situational problems, needs or wants that you have helped others with. Show that you are the expert and a student of your business by providing the prospect with expert materials. Some personal examples of this are an article or blog I wrote, a video I made or a book I’ve read.

Many salespeople will send the prospect a card, but I believe in the “plus-one” approach such as a card plus content or a gift.

» Personal Examples: Article (blog) I wrote. Video I made. Book I’ve read.

» Many send a card but I believe in the “Plus-One” approach such as a card and content.

3. Trigger Methodology (Soft Touch)

Send the prospect a text of anything that makes you think of that person. It can be personal based on their interest (such as sports) or professional, based on something happening in the market.

4. Proof of Concept (Hard Touch)

Before your next meeting with the prospect, show proof of concept. Give examples of someone “just like them” that you are currently helping. This shows that you are the expert and are doing things every day to help other people.

If appropriate, share a testimonial with the prospect. Then set the next face-to-face appointment.

5. Face-to-Face Meeting (Hard Touch)

At this meeting, you will rekindle the rapport and chemistry of the first meeting with the prospect. Remind the prospect of your shared beliefs, as well as their needs, wants or problems.

The best time to close business is when you are face-to-face with the prospect, so this is a good time to ask for the commitment.

6. Social Consensus (Soft Touch)

If you still have not closed at this point, then ask the prospect whether talking to someone like them might help ease their mind. Make a text introduction and have an advocate, promoter or new client set up a call with them.

One important note here: Make sure this falls in compliance/regulations of your industry or company. However, there are almost always ways to perform this touch with permission.

7. Challenger Sale (Hard Touch)

This is where you ask some questions. Have you noticed how hard we’ve worked to earn your business? Has anyone else worked this hard to earn your business? Based on our first conversation, I know we both believe the same things, so what is really stopping us from getting started? Be ready for the prospect’s objections or excuse. This is meant to close the business.

8. Move On or Move Out?

s it time to move on? Ask yourself if the prospect still fits your filter of someone you want to do business with. If the answer is yes, then keep them in your fight club.

If the answer is no, move them into your database only.

If the answer is yes, but they aren’t as motivated to buy, move them into your “someday” category.

9 & 10. Repeat Top Strategies

Look at the list above and ask yourself what touch(es) were most positively reciprocated by the prospect. Also understand that you probably had multiple other types of touches throughout the process, so by this point you are most likely closer to 15 total touches in the process in 90 days.

A “soft” touch is less salesy and more relationship-building. A “hard” touch is more sales-related to show why you are an expert and to push the prospect to a buying decision. A recent study showed that people do business with those they trust and respect. The soft/hard touch combination does both of these.

All touches should take place in a 90-day cycle.

The fortune is always in the follow-up. Sales is a game of probability and a mindset.

The mindset for your follow-up process should be this. Some will believe in you. Some won’t. But, so what? We can’t lose something we never had in the first place. Therefore, it’s our obligation as sales professionals to fight to earn the business. I’d much rather lose a deal because I was aggressive than sit on the sidelines and lose to someone else.

Confidence is the one thing that affects everything during the follow-up process. The 10-touch with value system is designed to increase your confidence to be relentless in your follow-up.

Bruce Lund, Ph.D., has coached producers from all walks of life as a professor and sales trainer. He is the founder of 90-Day Sales Manager. Bruce may be contacted at [email protected] [email protected].

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