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VOL. 36 | NO. 37 | Friday, September 14, 2012
Three secrets to closing more business
Considering how hard salespeople have to work to land a meeting with a prospective customer, it’s surprising how little effort is typically put into the follow-up with that prospect after the meeting. The result is lost opportunity and the need to work harder than necessary to meet sales targets.
The art of a successful follow-up strategy begins while you’re meeting with your prospect. Assuming you’re not able to close the sale on the spot, it’s vital to secure your next step while you’re in person. It’s 75 percent easier in that moment than if you wait until after the fact.
Gain your prospect’s firm commitment on a follow-up meeting or call and clarify the objective for that conversation. Assuming you’ve already presented your proposal, consider assumptive language like: “I’m looking forward to our follow-up meeting next Tuesday at 10, where we’ll discuss any outstanding questions you may have and finalize the near-term next steps for moving forward.” From there, follow these three simple tricks of the trade to close more business.
Secret No. 1: Kick off your follow-up meeting by asking great questions and actively listening to what your prospect is telling you. Your primary goal is to help your prospect make a good decision; not simply to close a sale. That’s how you build real relationships and generate a strong referral base.
Pose open-ended questions or statements such as: Tell me about the elements of the proposal that will have the most impact on your business. Tell me about anything that might have been missing or needs to be reworked. Tell me about any other particulars you’d like to be sure are taken into consideration as we move forward.
Secret No. 2: If you were unsuccessful in gaining agreement about a near-term next step while meeting with your prospect, follow-up by phone is often necessary. Ensure you have something new to say that adds value for your prospect. No one likes to have a sales rep call to simply “check in.”
If you’ve researched new information that will help address your prospect’s needs, you’ll
be deemed more of a partner or consultant than a salesperson.
Secret No. 3: If your prospect is unable to make a buying decision in the near term, your follow-up strategy should be to stay top-of-mind until they are able to move forward. Be persistent but not a pest; so mix up every touch point. Alternate between calls, emails or mailers, ensuring you have something of added value to offer each time. Consider working in a call from a current customer who can speak to their confidence in your company.
Master the art of the successful follow-up to ensure you’re properly nurturing each prospect opportunity versus churning through new prospects as if there were an unlimited supply.
Lori Turner-Wilson is an award-winning columnist and managing partner of RedRover Sales & Marketing, www.redrovercompany.com, with offices in Memphis and Nashville. You can follow RedRover on Twitter (@redrovercompany and @loriturner) and Facebook (facebook.com/redrovercompany).