Monthly Archives: June 2015

How to Follow-Up with Prospects and Win Business

A while ago, my wife and I renovated our new home, and as part of this grueling process we had to get many quotes from all different kinds of people. This ranged from window replacement people, plumbers, electrical contractors, painters, tile companies, contractors, fine craftsman, window treatment companies – the list seemed endless. After they finally showed up and saw the work, their next job was to deliver a quote (usually by email). As a sales trainer, the next part seemed pretty straight forward to me – and that’s for them to follow up on their quotes, right?

Would you believe that over 90% of these people NEVER followed up on their quotes? I am absolutely amazed by that! It makes me understand and believe even more in a card I once saw on sales:

SALES STATISTICS
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
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 fourth contact
80% of sales are made on the fifth to twelfth contact

Interesting statistics, aren’t they? I always follow up with prospects – and many, many times as well – and that practice alone has made me more successful than 90% of my competition. And after my recent experience with these contractors, I’m even more convinced that just following up regularly gives you a significant edge over your competition. Here is a sample follow-up campaign (emails and phone calls) I use that you can adapt to your sales cycle:

Email #1:

After my initial phone call with a prospect – whether they want information or links to my website – I always send a separate email thanking them for taking the time to speak with me:

Dear (Prospect’s name),

Thank you for taking a few minutes today to tell me a little about your company and what you are trying to accomplish. It sounds like if I can help you (repeat their specific needs here), then there might be a fit between our companies.

I’ve sent you over the (brochure, specs, job scope, whatever you promised – as well as a meeting request) and look forward to our next conversation on (confirm time for next contact).
If you have any questions before we speak, please don’t hesitate to call me back on my direct dial phone number: (Your number).

Once again, thank you for taking the time to speak with me, and I look forward to continuing our conversation next (week).

Sincerely,
(Your Name)

Email #2:

My next contact comes two days later. It always includes something that might be of interest to my prospect. Here is a sample email:

Dear (Prospect’s name),

I was thinking about you and thought you would enjoy seeing/reading the following article: (Name of an article, company brochure, white paper, something related to them). I think this is in alignment with what you’re trying to accomplish.

Let me know if there is anything else I can do to help you. Once again, my direct phone number is: (Your number).

Looking forward to speaking with you next (day and time of appointment).

Sincerely,
(Your Name)

Email #3:

My next contact comes with a phone call on the date we have scheduled to speak next (You DID get a specific day and time for your next contact, right?). Often times before this I will also send out an automatic meeting reminder as well. My opening for this call is very assumptive and avoids common mistakes such as: “I’m just calling to follow up,” or “I’m just calling to see if you had time to read the material I sent you,” or “Did you have time to go through our website?” etc. Instead your opening call should something like:

“Hi _________, this is ________ ________ with (your company), how’s your Monday going?”

You know ________, I’ve been looking forward to speaking with you today. I’m sure you looked over the information I sent and probably have some questions, so tell me, where would you like to start?”

Again, always be assumptive, and obviously vary your opening based on whether you’re doing a demo (re-qualify in this case), or simply assume they’ve done what they committed to doing and then ask a question to get them to reveal what they are thinking.

So, by now – by this second conversation – I’ve reached out to my prospect five times! (The first is the email with my information, the second is the email, “Thanks for taking the time,” the third is the meeting request, the fourth is the next email with additional information or an article, and the fifth is the automatic meeting request. Including this follow-up call, I’ve now reached out to my prospect six times! But this is just the start….

After my presentation, I get a specific day and time to follow up again, and I will send another email article or white paper in-between this. And if my prospect isn’t available when I call back, I call them several times a day during the week until we connect – and, of course, I also send emails.

In addition, any prospect in my pipeline also goes into my Send Out Cards campaign, from which they get a physical greeting card from me in the mail each month until they buy. (See this amazing card system here: www.sendoutcards.com/mrinsidesales)

On average, between emails and phone conversations and meeting reminders, my prospects get between eight to twelve contacts within the first two weeks. And then they get a card in the mail each month as well.

Lastly, if a prospect goes dark during or after this, I always send them my “Should I Stay or Should I go” email which gets me a response over 65% of the time – even when every other method fails to get them to react. Here’s what it is:

Subject line: (Prospect Name) Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Dear _________,

I haven’t heard back from you and that tells me one of three things:

1) You’ve filled the position or you’ve already chosen another company for this.

2) You’re still interested but haven’t had the time to get back to me yet.

3) You’ve fallen and can’t get up, and in that case please let me know and I’ll call 911 for you…

Please let me know which one it is because I’m starting to worry.

Honestly, all kidding aside, I understand you’re really busy, and the last thing I want to do is be pain in the neck once a week. Whether your schedule has just been too demanding or you’ve gone another direction, I would appreciate it if you would take a second to let me know so I can follow up accordingly.

Thank you in advance and I look forward to hearing back from you.

Kind regards,”

If this email made you laugh, then think about getting your prospects to laugh as well. Again, this email gets over 65% of my prospects to email me back and let me know their status. Try it, it works.

As you can see, having a follow up system – and sticking to it – will put you ahead of over 90% of your competition. And if you’ve qualified a lead properly in the beginning, then this kind of perseverance is often enough to win you the business the majority of the time.

Closing Questions to Isolate the Objection

One of the most effective ways to deal with objections or stalls is simply to ask questions and isolate them. This works because many objections you get when closing are not actually objections at all – instead they’re smokescreens hiding what the real reason or objection is. The reason sales reps have trouble with them is because they believe them and either try to overcome them or simply give up and opt to “call back later.”

What you must do is get to the bottom of what’s REALLY holding a prospect back. Is it because they have a better deal elsewhere? Is it because they know their boss would never let them get a new product or service? Is it because they don’t have the budget or because the price is too high? Is it because they aren’t the real decision maker, or because they aren’t qualified to make the decision on this at all? Is it because their current supplier or agent can always offer them a better price to keep their business? Is it because they don’t know enough about how your particular product or service will really benefit them? Or is it because they think the learning curve will be too disruptive to their business? Is it because they don’t believe in your value prop? You get the idea…

There are many factors that might be standing behind the objection you’re getting, and the only way to effectively overcome them is to know what the real or deciding factor is. And you do that by questioning your prospect. Not in an interrogative way, but rather in a consultative way. You do it with layering questions and assumptive questions. You do it by using or adapting the questions below to fit your product or service and your personality.

From the list below, choose the ones that feel right to you and then adapt them, post them in your cubicle, or record and listen to them until they become second nature:

Closing Questions to Isolate the Objection

“_________, there is something that seems to be bothering you about this – would you mind sharing with me what it is?”

“It sounds like there something else that you’d like to share with me about that. What else should I know about this?”

“What would you say is an example of why you need to think about this?”

“_________, help me get an idea of what you’re thinking about here…”

“Tell me what I need to know so I understand where you’re at on this?”

“What other vendors are you looking at for this?”

“What do you think is the biggest reason for not going with this now?”

“I totally get that you need to (think about it), what one thing about this do you think you’ll need to think about most?”

“You know __________, it sounds like this is really important to you – can you tell me why?”

“How does making a decision on this affect you or your department?”

“__________ what else do I need to know to get the full picture on this?”

“If you went with this and it didn’t work out, how would that affect you?”

“If you went with this and it did work out, how would that affect you?”

“_________, just out of curiosity, how did you get to that?”

“How much of this decision is up to you?”

“And what is your personal perspective on this?”

“Can you tell me a little more about that, please?”

“How does your upper management fit into this?”

“If you decided to go with this, is the budget there?”

“How about you – what are your feelings on this?”

“And how much influence do YOU have?”

“You know, I keep hearing you say X, but I keep feeling that you mean something else. What might that be?”

“What aren’t you telling me?”

“How would this fit into your (budget, plans, initiatives,) right now?”

“I think what you’re telling me is __________, is that correct?”

“Don’t you mean “when” it works out?”

“If you’re/they’re a go on this, when would you like to see it implemented?”

“I’m sorry, I’m not following you – can you tell me exactly what you mean?”

“How urgent for you (your company) is this right now?”

“__________, from where you’re sitting right now, do you think this is a smart thing to do?”

“Oh, and why not?”

“What would you need to see added to this to make it worthwhile for you?”

“What can I do right now to help you get into this?”

“Level with me, what is really holding you back?”

“What is really standing in the way of us working together?”

“Is there anything that I can do about it?”

“What do you seriously think it is going to take for us to work together?”

“What else should I know?”

As you can see, there are many ways to get your prospect talking to you. There are many ways to get them to open up and reveal what it will take and/or why the deal won’t happen. If you’re not asking some of these questions, then you’re simply letting your prospect put you off, and your pipeline is filling with prospects who likely aren’t going to buy from you.

Take some time right now to adjust four or five of these questions to fit your personality, your product or service, and fit them to the specific objections or stalls that you get. And then use them when that situation comes up. Remember, the best way to prepare for success is to prepare. So start now…

How to Question for Budget

Qualifying for budget, or handling objections around budget and money, are areas most sales reps feel uncomfortable in. To start with, I’ve heard many sales reps tell me that bringing up budget or money on a qualifying call is not only uncomfortable, but that it’s inappropriate as well. They say, “I haven’t given any value yet, so it’s too early to talk about budget!”

My response is that if your product or service is out of a prospect’s budget, or if they feel it’s too expensive, then it doesn’t matter how much value you give it – they aren’t going to buy from you. That’s why it’s crucial to qualify for budget up front – just as you would with decision maker, timeframe, etc.

And when objections about money or price come up, again, sales reps often struggle with how to handle it. In fact, most sales reps’ default response is to try to lower the price rather than either build value or help the prospect find other areas to get budget from.

Below you’ll find a variety of ways of both qualifying for budget and asking questions to help assist you in helping the prospect find the budget. Getting comfortable with regularly asking these questions – both during the qualifying stage and during the close – will allow you to both identify qualified prospects and help you close them.

As always, adapt them to fit your product, service or personality and practice, drill and rehearse them until they become automatic for you:

Budget Questions during qualifying:

“How much budget do you have set aside for new advertising?” (This week, quarter, or year)

“How much are you currently spending to attract new consumers?”

“How much budget do you currently spend on keeping or retaining your existing customers?”

“How much have you set aside this?” (Your product or service)

“What do you know about management’s budget when it comes to adding….” (Your product or service)

“Besides yourself, who else would weigh in on making a budget decision on this?”

LAYER:

“And what is their role (or your role) in that process?”

LAYER:

“And what do you know about their budget for adding a new…. (Your product or service)

“How much of a priority is this (your product or service area) for you this month?” (Or quarter)

“How much does your department (or company) spend on new client acquisition?”

“Our solution runs a ballpark of $10,000 up to $50,000.” If you liked what you saw, could you work within that range?”

“What’s your budget for this?”

“What are your plans for (your product or service area) for the upcoming season/quarter for this?”

Budget Questions during the close:

“What is a new customer worth, roughly, to you?”

LAYER:

“And how much budget, per week/month/year, have you set aside to attract those new customers?”

LAYER:

“And how much of that budget is still not used that you could apply to this?”

“When something like this comes up that you believe will work for you (your department or company), how do you normally go about getting the budget for it?”

“How do you draw from next month’s/quarter’s budget to get something like this that you really know will help you?”

“What is your yearly budget for this area (of your product or service)?”

LAYER:

“And how much of that do you have left over?”

“Let me ask you: around this time of year, how do you handle these kinds of purchases?”

“Who else could you get approval from to afford this extra expense?”

“How do you normally get something above budget approved?”

“How can you borrow against next year’s budget to get the profits and results this year?”

“What do you have to do now to make sure this is properly budgeted for next quarter?”

“What other areas/departments can you borrow from to start this service today?”

“If money weren’t an issue here, would you move forward?”

[If Yes]

“GREAT! What are three ways you can think of now to get the budget for this?”

“What did you do last time you really wanted something?”

“How did you get the money last time you really wanted something?”

“We all have ways of getting the money when we really want something, what way do you have of getting the money now?”

“Who (which department) could you borrow from?”

“How about I put you on our low cost down payment program, and you can then set up easy monthly payments so you can get started today?”

As you can see, there are a variety ways of not only bringing up or getting clarity around the budget issue, but of also leading your prospect to revealing how and when they can get or find the budget. Have some fun with this and hit MUTE while you get all the answers and solutions around budget that you need!

Ten New Ways to Handle the “I Need to Think About It” Objection

How do you currently handle it when your prospect gives you the stall, “I need to think about it”? If you’re like most sales people, you might give a wimpy, half-hearted response and then ask when you can call them back. That doesn’t feel too good, does it?

Let’s face it, whenever you get this objection – or any other stall that is similar to it like, “I need to wait until next week/month,” or “I’ll get back to you it,” – you know as well as I do that it means your prospect isn’t sold and will probably not move forward with you. If you don’t believe me, just look at your won/loss rate when you get this objection.

The way to handle this, then, is to deal with it when it comes up and get your prospect to reveal what is REALLY holding them back. The truth is, this objection (like so many) is usually just a smokescreen hiding the real objection…

Use any of these rebuttals to get your prospect talking to you, to get them to reveal what is really holding them back, and then maybe, just maybe, you’ll have a chance to close the sale.

“I need to think about it”

Response One:

“_________, obviously there is something that either doesn’t make sense to you, or you need to check on something, I’m not sure. But procrastinating on this won’t help make this decision easier for you. Let me ask you this: What proof do I need to give you right now that this will work for you, to help you make that decision?”

Response Two:

“You know ________, whenever someone tells me they have to think about it, it’s usually because the price isn’t exactly where they would like it to be – is that part of what you need to think about?

[If Yes]

Thanks for sharing that with me. Let me tell you why we price this the way we do, and what you get for that pricing…

[Break down each part of your product/service and justify/build value in your price. When done]:

You see _________, you get what you pay for with this and then some. Let’s go ahead and put this to work for you so you can start enjoying the benefits today…”

Response Three:

“__________ I understand that thinking about it might make sense right now, but help me to understand something – what exactly is holding you back from this today?”

Response Four:

“_________ let me ask you: if I could email you right now testimonials from other clients that describe how much success they’ve had with this program, how much of a difference would that make for you right now?”

[Listen carefully here. If this won’t get them to move forward, then]:

“Then, please, I love to learn, what specifically is holding you back from deciding on this today?”

Response Five:

“_________, as you think about the reasons for either moving forward with this or not, I also want you to think about this:

“How much has this been costing you each month by not getting it fixed?”

AND

“And tell me, how much time do you and your team spend on this each week?”

AND

“And how much more money could you (and your company/sales team/family) make if you finally found a solution that worked?”

AND

“And when you think about all the time and energy you’ve already spent thinking about this, how much has THAT cost you so far?”

AND

“And if you continue to procrastinate, how much more do you think THAT will cost you?”

AND

“If you went with our solution and it worked for you, how much would you save/make?”

THEN

“As you can see, continuing to “think about this” has done nothing to fix it and it has only cost you time, money and energy! So why don’t you finally DO something about this today and starting reaping the rewards right now. Here’s what we need to do….”

Response Six:

“I understand that you’re not quite ready to decide on this. Out of curiosity, what factors do you still need to consider?”

AND

“And what kind of proof would you need to decide to go with us?”

AND

“And what else might hold you back from doing this with us?”

Response Seven:

“If there was one thing that would get you to say yes on this today, what would it be?”

Response Eight:

“__________, generally whenever I tell someone I need to think about it, one of three things is going on: One: I’m either weighing other options and want to make sure I’m getting the best deal, or Two: What I’m looking at just doesn’t fit exactly what I need so I want to keep looking, or Three: It’s too much money….

“Which of those three things is happening for you right now?”

Response Nine:

“_________, how much is a new customer worth to you?”

[Listen carefully]

“And do you think what we’re talking about here will bring you enough customers to at least pay for this?”

[If No, then they aren’t sold on your solution, and you’ll need to build more value]

[If Yes]:

“Then there is no downside here for you and each additional client will simply make you money. So let’s do this: let’s sign you up for our introductory offer, and once you see how this WILL make you money, we’ll adjust your subscription to make you even more…”

Response Ten:

“________ tell me two things: Why would you NOT do this, and why would you DO this with me?”

[Hit MUTE and let them talk…]

These rebuttals will work in a variety of situations if you take the time to customize them to your product or service, and then use them consistently. Ultimately, what you’ll find is that if you can get past this smokescreen to the real reason they’re not moving forward with you, then you’ll have the chance to either build value or clarify something they either don’t understand or misunderstand. And once you do that, you’ll finally have a shot at winning their business.