HERE’S A BIG SCARY AND OFTEN OVERLOOKED FACT ABOUT HOW MANY CONTACTS IT TAKES TO MAKE A SALE.
- 2% OF SALES ARE MADE ON THE FIRST CONTACT
- 3% OF SALES ARE MADE ON THE SECOND CONTACT
- 5% OF SALES ARE MADE ON THE THIRD CONTACT
- 10% OF SALES ARE MADE ON THE FORTH CONTACT
- 80% OF SALES ARE MADE ON THE FIFTH TO TWELFTH CONTACT
AND GUESS WHAT? ……
- 48% OF SALES PEOPLE NEVER FOLLOW UP WITH A PROSPECT
- 25% OF SALES PEOPLE MAKE A SECOND CONTACT AND STOP
- 12% OF SALES PEOPLE ONLY MAKE THREE CONTACTS AND STOP
- ONLY 10% OF SALES PEOPLE MAKE MORE THAN THREE CONTACTS
[Source: National Sales Executive Association]
So, it takes MORE THAN FIVE VISITS to close a sale 8 out of 10 times and 90% of salespeople routinely make LESS THAN 3 CALLS to prospective clients.
THE NO. 1 TIP FOR INCREASING SALES IS SIMPLY TO FOLLOW UP, FOLLOW UP, FOLLOW UP.
FOLLOWING UP IS CLEARLY CRUCIAL TO SUCCESS IN SALES BUT WHAT DO WE NEED TO FOLLOW UP ON?
Let’s look at the stages within the sales process that need to be followed up on and understand why following up is so important. If I can get you to buy in to why it’s important then I’m sure you will be eager to get better at following up.
WHEN DO YOU FOLLOW UP WITH A CONTACT?
- If you are trying to get to meet somebody for the first time, you will very likely need to try more than once. Whatever the outcome of a first contact,
short of – “go away I never want to hear from you again”, it would be worth another go maybe a week or even a year later depending on the outcome of the initial response.
- You have met with the client and they have promised you a second meeting, more information or to introduce you to somebody else in their organization. Sorry but people often don’t keep this type of promise. If you think everyone is going to do exactly as they say the whole time, then I’m afraid you’re mistaken. They are not. You need to keep chasing them.
- You have provided a solution and you are trying to close the deal. Obviously, this is the follow up most people refer to and yes, it is very important.
- To stay in touch with customers that have initially rejected you. When you read our articles on managing these ‘recycled opportunities’, you will see just how important this is. It is probably the most undervalued sales activity I of all.
- Staying in touch with your existing clients. They may like and respect you but may not respond to your offer immediately as soon as you reach out to them. You need to be persistent to achieve your desired outcomes.
- Trying to meet new contacts within your existing client base. You may have had the introduction, directly or indirectly, but you will still need to secure the meeting or achieve the objective you are after
This list isn’t exhaustive but covers the key client contacts that need to be followed up on. If a sales person says that they are good at following up, you really need to ask them what they mean by this? Are they covering these areas or just following up on an offer? Do they have reminders for these actions in the CRM / Activity planner? If they do, they will be in that 10% of high performers and will be far more successful than the average sales person.
WHY DON’T SALESPEOPLE FOLLOW UP?
Let’s take a more detailed look at the statistics mentioned at the top of this reticle to see why so many salespeople don’t do follow up well
- 48% never follow up with a prospect.
Why? They are of the mindset that if the client wants what they have presented they will buy from them. Chasing them up is not going to convince them anymore. Wrong.
- 25% stop after one follow up contact
Why? Simple – rejection. They feel that the client never got back to them or fobbed them off which means they are never going to buy. This is not correct. They could be ‘busy! They could have any number of other things going on in their world other than buying from you!
- Second and third contacts basically end there for the same reason – rejection. The only difference is that these sales people are a little thicker skinned than the ones that stop on the first go.
The sales people who are following through till they close the deal must do so without being viewed as a ‘pain’ by the client during the follow-up process. We will look at how to do this later in this paper.
So, what do you think of these numbers? Spot on? A long way off? I don’t mind people challenging them, saying their industry is different, however there is a clear correlation that a little more persistence (not insistence) goes a long, long way.
THINKING LIKE YOUR CUSTOMERS
So why does simply maintaining contact drive such good results? It is a tricky one to explain but let’s focus on the main objective of trying to secure business. In order to do this, I’m going to try and help you get inside the mind of one of your buyers.
- First of all, think about what is going on in their world. You are not the most important thing in their world. You may have made an impact but they normally will still have other priorities. Your solution at certain time may be more important t them than at other times
Let’s take a first example. Imagine that you are selling to somebody who has an existing supplier and for whatever reason, they are looking at alternatives. You have presented a solution and it looks like it went well.
- By following up, you are putting pressure on their current supplier. Between the time that you initially present and for as long as you are contacting the client, the existing supplier will need to be foot perfect. If not, any area of gain that you have presented will be reinforced when you make contact; every contact will be a constant reminder of the benefits you offer.
If you think how the brain operates we can only stay focused on one or two topics at a time. We can’t stay focused on everything all the time. If you are not top of mind you will have less impact in the future.
- The more professional your follow up, the further ahead of your competition you will be. They may not be following up regularly, or at all if you consider our follow up statistics. So, who is valuing the client’s business more now? The client will feel this and may well consider their options again. It may be easier for them to just say they will go with you at that time as going back through all the other proposals will be too much hard work. You have just made their job easier.
The secret is that in between contacts you don’t know what is going on in the world of the client. If they don’t answer your call or email, please don’t take this as rejection. If they do respond it means that your solution is more interesting now but if they don’t respond it doesn’t necessarily mean that they have no interest.
Also, there may be a time outside of you contacting them where your solution could become of more importance and value and they will contact you. The chance of this happening though is vastly improved if you have been in touch with the client regularly and remained top of mind
If you are selling a solution whereby they do not have a current supplier, (for example a new phone system for the office), much of the above is also relative but with one key difference.
- Your competitor in this situation is really the way they are coping now and you’re competing with where else they could spend the money. Let’s say they need the new phone system AND need a computer system upgrade but can only really afford to buy one or the other. The likelihood is that the salesperson who has kept themselves top of mind by consistent follow up will have a better chance of getting a positive decision.
CONCLUSION – FOLLOWING UP WINS BUSINESS
Following up is critical for every sales person to succeed. Every salesperson needs to allocate time each day to make follow up calls and to send follow up emails. Remember- don’t think for one minute that you only follow up on proposals that you have out there in the market. There is a lot more following up that needs to be done in a successful salesperson’s role.
Coming Soon In A Future Blog
In this article, we have looked at the importance of following up with clients and considered:
- The compelling statistics that shows following up wins’ business
- The different situations when you should follow up with clients
- The reasons why salespeople don’t follow up with their customers
- Thinking like your customers to make sure that your follow ups work
Watch out for my future article that takes this one step further providing a guide on How to follow up effectively, including Top Tips that will help you stand out from your competitors.
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