Partners in Performance Blog

Sales Follow Up: The One Thing Most Sales People Can Do Better


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“It’s all in the sales follow up.” This is the mantra I hear repeatedly from several clients I work with in the financial services industry.  The sales person calls on financial advisors and brokers to provide advisory support and promote their financial products.

But without timely, value-added follow up, any opportunities that may have been uncovered in the sales meeting disappear into the ether. Without excellent follow up they don’t ‘land the plane’ and results aren’t achieved. Without doubt this applies to every B2B sales person in every industry.

What I find astonishing is how inconsistently this last critical step in the sales process is executed. And yet, it’s key to getting results. In the  Intentional Selling  sales process methodology there are 6 steps:

Intentional-Selling-Sales-Process, Sales Follow Up

 In other words before the client meeting in Phase 1 you have to PREPARE by getting grounded in your client’s needs, clarifying the call outcome and planning your approach. 

Then during the meeting in Phase 2 you ENGAGE your client by setting the context for the meeting, doing DISCOVERY using questions strategically to uncover needs and POSITIONING your ideas, products and services with a compelling storyline. Finally you CLOSE the meeting by obtaining commitment to a next step which sets you up for success in your follow up.

Phase 3 FOLLOW UP is where you do what you said you would do and then continue to follow up strategically until the sales cycle is complete.

Every step of the process serves a distinct and critical purpose. It’s crucial to continually hone the skills that apply to each step. Sadly, I see most effort and focus on Phase 2, the actual time in front of the client. And a common mistake here is that the focus is on pitching instead of asking questions.

Yet what you do to prepare before the meeting and how you follow up after the meeting often gets lost in the shuffle. Big mistake!

Your skill in executing sales follow up is where the rubber hits the road. Most people make the mistake of planning their follow up AFTER the sales meeting. But that’s not the way to do it.

When do you plan your sales follow up?

The time to plan your follow up is BEFORE the meeting in Step 1 during your preparation phase.  Clarify the ideal outcome that will move the business opportunity the furthest and the fastest and plan how you will incorporate that into your Call to Action.  Plan how you will end your meeting with crystal clear expectations for both you and your client. 

Be intentional. Don’t leave this to chance because how you close the meeting will make or break your success in follow up.  And your follow up will make or break the sale. Sounds like common sense? Yes it is but common sense and common practice are sadly not the same.

When planning your approach to follow up, incorporate these three elements and you will see a dramatic increase in your sales results.

1.       Be strategic

2.       Be systematic

3.       Be concrete with specific, timed action

Marketing guru Seth Godin has an interesting perspective that is relevant to follow up. In his recent post Tenacity is not the same as persistence,he says,

“Persistence is doing something again and again until it works. It sounds like ‘pestering’ for a reason.

Tenacity is using new data to make new decisions to find new pathways to find new ways to achieve a goal when the old ways didn’t work.

Telemarketers are persistent, Nike is tenacious.”

Seth’s perspective on tenacity is one that inspires creativity and passion. Injecting tenacity into your sales follow up can transform what might feel like drudgery to some into a dynamic pursuit that is fun, engaging and creative.

For me sales follow up is so essential.  Yet I hear from clients in my workshops that this is one of their biggest struggles. They talk about having great meetings and then seeing the opportunity go up into the ether. They get frustrated because they don’t know how to maintain the momentum or how to get their clients to take action.  This leads to big disappointments in sales revenues which could easily be avoided with a little forethought. 

Sales follow up is worth talking more about and in my next few posts I will dig deeper into some of the essentials of executing follow up effectively.

In the meantime, I want you to think about this:

  • Where have you been stuck with sales follow up? Reflect on where you went wrong.

  • What would you do differently next time?

Please leave me a comment and I will incorporate it into my next few posts.

 


This entry was posted by TanjaParsley on December 10, 2013 in Sales Follow Up, Sales Process, Sales Skills. Bookmark the permalink. Follow comments with the RSS feed for this post. Post a comment or leave a trackback.

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