Sales, Marketing, Etc
As you know, and as most people would agree, Selling is a series of next steps. We continue through a cycle or a system of leading our clients to an end result, hopefully of purchasing our product or service. What I’ve learned and observed throughout my career is that the best sales people are those who never skip a step.
For instance, when I sold furniture in a retail store, our steps were
- needs assessment providing a potential solution (or several)
- overcoming objections
- The sale however, wasn’t complete until we did a follow-up. Either to confirm delivery or client satisfaction (or both).
Amazingly, the more educated the sales person, the more likely the sales person was to try to skip a step and move in for the close. I was guilty of this on countless occasions and usually the result was a lost sale. I always recognized this in myself and other sales team members noticed it too. It was uncanny that if we skipped the greeting or the needs assessment portion of the sale, we were not nearly as likely to close the sale. I always felt that it was because they weren’t able to build trust with the clients that would ultimately result in a sale.
So it went each time a new prospect entered the doorway it was our task to stay on task and work through the sales steps. After the prospect or client would leave it was imperative that the sales person double check paperwork, inventory, delivery schedules and ultimately confirm with the client. Also, it was wise to send a thank you note to the clients. In fact, thank you notes increased repeat business exponentially. Interestingly enough, we had an 80% return rate from our previous customers. Meaning, if a client purchased a bedroom group, they would return for another nightstand or chest or dresser. It was amazing, but what was more impressive was that if we sent a thank you note, they returned faster AND they would request their original sales person. That was important; because we were 100% straight commissioned sales people and we only made our commission after the furniture was delivered.
The furniture business was identical to the other industries where I was in sales. Printing, graphic design, gym memberships, it really didn’t matter what I sold; it was a fact that for every follow-up I was going to increase my chances of a repeat sale or referral.
Lead generation proved the same information. If I was prospecting (which I do as a service for professional services clients) I would spend my time in person at a tradeshow, networking at a meeting, on the telephone or by mail trying to find potential buyers. I would work through the steps of suspect to prospect to client to referral source always pushing for the next step in the sales process. The challenge of prospecting within a retail store are vastly different than in other industries, especially business to business sales, but it is usually surmounted through direct mail or telemarketing. Most of the time the ONLY way to achieve new prospects was through networking with previous clients. Regardless, of how I generate the lead, I do know that without following up on the suspect, they will never convert into a sale.
The largest challenge that I faced was spending hours working on the prospecting process only to be faced with orders/sales in process when I arrived back at the worksite. If I sold printing or graphic design, if I sold furniture or marketing services it didn’t matter, I always dealt with prospecting becoming a necessary burden. If I don’t prospect, I don’t have future sales, but I don’t have time for follow-up because I’m handling sales in process or I’m prospecting. As a business owner, the challenge was increased. Business owners are responsible for most of the tasks on their own and truly don’t have time for prospecting, following up, sales presentations, implementation and operations, accounting, etc. So more often that I care to admit, follow-up was ignored.
Follow-up, getting back in touch with prospects and previous customers generates vastly more sales than prospecting. For that reason, it should be the number one priority for all businesses and sales professionals; however, it takes a back seat for several reasons:
- it’s perceived as grunt work
- it’s perceived as not as important as handling current orders in process
- it’s perceived as time consuming
- it’s perceived as not having the same impact as prospecting
However, follow-up is the most important part of both prospecting and lead generation. With that in mind, it’s hard to imagine why it would be a lower priority than prospecting or processing current orders. To overcome this challenge, a simple, quick and inexpensive solution has been needed for sales and business professionals.
That is where Laura’s CPR [Contacting Prospects Regularly] system fit into place. Laura devised a solution to the burden of the prospecting and follow-up. CPR is a system that explains every detail of follow-up and divides it into manageable pieces. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. When follow-up is manageable and shows statistical results, it becomes a higher priority. A system that will break the multiple tasks in the process into smaller steps that are less costly is necessary for all businesses that are interested in increasing their profit margin. This is especially true because prospecting will typically cost eight times more capital than follow-up.
Methods of contact with previous customers, referral sources and prospects are also limited. Telephone calls [which has spawned the term call reluctance], mailings [letters, postcards, etc], web based contacts and text messages are popular follow up media and all are costly, time consuming and are perceived as over simplified methods of business building. When polled, most sales professionals dislike spending their time, which is expensive, on mailings or emails to “drum up” business. Also, when only one media is used for follow-up, for example, only telephone calls teach reach previous customers, and then some potential business will be lost. It is common knowledge that multiple media are required to generate the results that will transform the bottom line of a business.
For example: If all follow-up is exclusively made through emails, then often the prospects are screening their emails with their spam filters and sales are lost because the contacts are not received by the intended buyer. It is consistent for any method of contact, if all contacts are made through one media it is likely that the messages sent are not received, however, if you split your methods of contact between three different media in tandem, the prospect will likely get the information and will be more likely to choose your company when it is time to make a purchase.
To sum up, the most important step in the prospecting, lead generation and sales process is follow-up. It leads to initial purchases, repeat sales and referrals. The largest hurdle in follow-up is the redundancy of the tasks and the perception of time lost and menial tasks. To overcome these hurdles, would require an automated solution for a company interested in growing their client base and ultimately their sales.
Word of Mouth has achieved this solution. In 3 steps we can solve your follow-up dilemma.
- Needs assessment
- your current methods of contact
- teleconference for speedy service
- Problem Solving
- deciding on which 3 methods of contact will be effective
- simple messages created with hi tech methods and strong visual impact
- Automated contact with your database at minimal cost and involvement required on your part
- all redundant tasks provided by the program at the touch of a button
- is available in varied quantities for multiple campaigns
- Measurable ROI
- reports are generated for easy analysis
- predictable results for your management team
If you have 50 contacts or 10,000 contacts, the automated solution will provide follow-up with your leads, your prospects or your previous customers, your referral sources with the touch of a button. For businesses using CRMs this provides the next step in office automation, for businesses seeking a prospecting campaign, this is a simple solution to an age old challenge: how do we reach our clientele in multiple media for a reasonable cost?