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5 Common Follow-Up Mistakes Businesses Make

5 Common Follow-Up Mistakes Businesses Make

The other week, I attended one of the monthly educational seminar offered by the Brookfield Chamber. It was “Costly Follow-Up Mistakes and How To Avoid Them” presented by Tara Alemany of Aleweb Social, Susan Merlo of Next Level iMedia and Rick Schwartz of The Sales Addict as a Round-Table Q & A event. The event was well attended with over thirty local small businesses from the Danbury and Brookfield CT area.

The five biggest mistakes that small businesses make are:

1.) Not following up

  • The purpose of a follow up system is to maintain contact information, schedule follow up reminders as well as establish a history to see what works.
    • Business forget to measure their outcomes – they do not know how to measure what worked and what did not.
  • Salespeople will say they’re waiting for a CRM to do follow ups
    • A CRM is just a computerized method to follow-up. If you don’t have a follow-up procedure, the CRM will not create it.
  • You may feel that you do not need to write down the follow up plan in your head
    • Each time you follow up, it’s a little different becasue you are “winging it”, no way to track what works and what does not
    • if you write it down, you can review and revise as you go
  • Some people do not know what to do for a follow-up.
    • First define what is a follow up
    • The more specific the follow up, the better received it will be. A card with a personal note, eg a picture of the house they bought, will have a lot more impact.
    • For each follow-up, define what a successful outcome would be for that contact. If every follow-up, the goal is to close a sale, then you’ll be very disappointed.
    • Then create a flow-chart that outlines the steps in the follow-up plan
  • You may feel there is no time to follow up, need to sell
    • The follow up can also be part of the sales process and helps build the relationship
  • You haven’t followed up previously and now there are piles of business card
    • When you collect business cards, put them into your follow-up plan with a next action
  • Sales people do not want to be over-contacting
    • Frequency of follow-up depends upon the expectation of the receiver. If they were signing up for a monthly newsletter and you start sending them weekly, you may lose them as a subscriber.

2.) Approach prospects from the wrong mindset

  • Many small business approach prospects thinking “what can I sell them” rather than “how can I help them”
  • You actually have to care about your prospects and that what you have will help them.
  • Don’t hide behind the email. There is a time for the email, but also make phone calls and face-to-face meetings.
    • Social media is a great way to share relevant information.
  • If you have to leave a voice-mail, don’t put the onus on the prospect to call you back.
    • Ask how the prospect likes to be contacted when you first start the relationship. Busy people like persistence, they don’t have time to return calls.
  • By following up when you say you will builds credibility. The relationship can start before any direct interaction.
  • After a few attempts, offer them another way to get the information – “I’ll send you a letter / email with some information of interest”.
  • If you are respectful of your prospect’s time, they will let you know when to stop calling.

3.) Not staying in touch / giving up after the sale is done

  • Plan to follow-up to make sure the customer is satisfied. The emotional high point is at the point of the sale, then it starts to decline with “buyer’s remorse”. The follow-up to the sale can maintain the relationship and eliminate the fall of buyer’s remorse.
  • Repeat customers are the easiest sales
    • Businesses tend not to ask for more business or for referrals. If you get an approval, ask for the next order or ask if anyone else could use this same services.
  • Don’t Jackal and Hyde the customer – Makes sure the relationship stays the same in tone, if not in frequency
    • Many sales people show that they care before the sale but then disappearing after-wards.
    • When changes in technology / environment occur, send out a memo, even to let them known that they are not affected
    • An anniversary of the start of the business relationship is a great time to reconnect, and unlike a birthday, it is a unique time for you.
  • We all have the same amount of time, the difference is what we choose to do with our time. A virtual assistant can help get the administrative work done.
  • In today’s world of social media, you cannot hide from failings. If someone decides not to buy, don’t disappear. It may be disappointing to the prospect as well that they had to say no, but maintain the relationship because the situation may change.
  • Business do not “brand monitor” to see what is being said about you. The brand is the feeling that people get when they think about your business. Typically 25% of the branding message is generated by the masses, not by the business.

4.) Mis-judging the prospect

  • Make sure the prospect has BANT- budget, authority, need, time-frame.
    • Do they have the money
    • Do they have an authority to buy or recommend a buy
    • Do they have a need for your solution
    • Do they have a timeframe for getting a solution
  • SPIN selling: asking the probative questions to find out a prospect’s needs.
    • Situational Questions: Ask questions to find background details to make sense of the buyer’s business situation.
    • Problem Questions: Ask questions to uncover problems that you may be able to solve. Do not start presenting the benefits of your services, though, only uncover the problem.
    • Implication Questions: Ask questions to draw out the implications of the problem, get them to recognize and become aware of the pain.
    • Need-Payoff Questions: Ask questions so the prospect describes how their pain could be resolved.
  • Always Closing a sale: ABC (Always Be Closing) is old-school don’t always be closing, always be questioning to see how you can help.

5.) Only relying on the method of communication they know.

  • Regardless of your personal preferences about how you like to communicate, you have to look at how your audience likes to communicate.
  • Don’t rely on only one method of follow-up. Make sure you are using all the available forms of communication.
  • Different channels will have different acceptance.
    • Monitor your contact reaches, so you can figure out your conversion rate. Once you have determined the conversion rate, each no is a step closer to the yes

There were a lot of back and forth, with input and questions from the audience.I believe the group will also be doing a Webinar in the near future on this same topic. Please stay tuned…

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