Why It's Good To Follow Up… And Follow Up Some More

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Math might not be your strong suit, but the numbers in a recent piece in Marketing WizdomWhy 8% of Sales People Get 80% of Sales — are too striking to dismiss. It’s all about the value of follow-up… hard, thankless work to be sure, but clearly of incredible value too. One of the most surprising figures to come from the piece is that a paltry 2% of sales come from a first encounter — a monumental 98% happen sometime later.
Shows you just how important follow up is to making those sales… hmmmm?
What’s more, author, entrepreneur and marketer Robert Clay mentions a mountain of research that supports the idea that 80% of business is not awarded until the fifth (yes, FIFTH) interaction. And since so many sales people (business owners, too) give up well before that… this leaves the tenacious 8% who never say die… and end up with the sale. So how do you join that number?
Institute a five “no” strategy for yourself and any member of your staff daring enough to follow along. Stick with a prospect or customer until after that fifth “no” and you’ll have outlasted 92% of your competitors — and won the business. It’s not easy, but if Clay’s numbers are right, it will be well worth any discomfort or bruises to your ego you experience along the way.
You’ll need to develop a thick skin… expect the “no” the first time around and move forward anyway. Ask questions and engage in an on-going discussion. Learn about your prospects’ (customers’) problems. Get to know them, understand their issues, solve their problem and offer solid proof — these are the basics behind good relationship building… and successful selling too.
And you’ll need to change how you think about that “no”. Clay points out that in today’s world, there are lots of reasons someone might refuse you that first time. People are busy… stressed… overworked and overscheduled. Everyone’s worried about money and cashflow… trying to do more with less. According to Clay, these aren’t negatives or anything personal… they’re just simple realities you need to understand, and address, when you follow up.
How often to keep in touch? You want to tread the line between being helpful and being a complete… well you know… annoyance. Clay suggests you make regular contact with current customers (and prospective ones) every three months. Such contact does not include routine orders, payments or appointments. Holiday greeting cards, unique and personalized though they may be, are also not included — everyone expects them now.
To work best, the follow up contact needs to be special. Different. More give, less take.
Naturally all this calls for some thought into how you’ll manage this all this communication — no easy task, to be sure. You need to think carefully about the type of contact (phone, email, in-the-mail) and the type of information (special offer, tip or reference, promotional item) that works for your business and budget.
In today’s challenging business climate, you’ve got nothing to lose by taking hold of your nerve… your squeamishness… your aversion of the word “no” and see what this follow up technique might do for your sales. And let us know how you make out!

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