Friday Faves – 10.30.15

103015Some treats to read between visits from the kids.

Don’t Clean Your Desk – Good ideas to keep focused on priorities.

How to Create an Effective Lead Follow-Up System – What good does a lead do you without timely follow up?

An Effective Sales Strategy to Beat “We’re Happy with Our Current Provider” – Any client worth having is already working with a competitor.  An interesting approach to dealing with that.

This Is Not Prospecting – Dartboard prospecting hurts, rather than helps you.  Here’s proof positive.

 

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FU, no FU Too!

call for emailBefore you delete, FU is CRM shorthand for Follow Up.  Follow Up, also known as stalking, is a key weapon in a seller’s fight to close the deal.  It is also one of the most poorly-used tools.  Like the ecard says, many calls are made to FU emails.  There are many others ways the FU is F’d Up:

 

  • “Read my email” – You can send with a read receipt.  BETTER if you have a compelling Subject Line, VALUABLE content and a clear CALL TO ACTION.  If you have and they read it, you’ve already heard back from them.
  • “Made a decision” – Their timetable, not yours.  If they made a decision and you haven’t heard, you didn’t get the deal.   BETTER to ask if anyone needs more info (sometimes these requests fall between the cracks), let the prospect know about new enhancements that will soon add more value to your proposal, peer/competitive companies that have signed deals with you (competitive pressure).
  • “Have any questions about…” – If they had questions, they would ask.  Maybe.  This one, I’ll cut some slack, because some prospects don’t like to ask questions about a proposal because it a) makes them look dumb; b) leads the seller to think they are getting the deal and push harder.  BETTER to ease in by asking if anything in your proposal needs clarification because sometimes terminology is different company to company.
  • “Received my proposal/quote” – See “Read my email” you can send the proposal with a read receipt.  BETTER to assume the prospect has received it and use the email to add some value/color to part of your proposal.
  • “Checking in” – When I was in Middle School, I had an 11pm curfew.  If I was going to be late, I had to Check In prior to 11pm and confirm when I would actually be home.  Failure to Check In or arrive by the time I indicated resulted in grounding.  Seriously, is there a bigger waste of a voicemail than “Hi, just checking in?”

Not fair to just criticize, so here are 5 FU ideas that may actually help your deal move along, or at least let you know where it stands.

  • “News you can use” – Share industry/competitive/regulatory news you heard, then ask if it will have an affect on the specs or implementation timeline.  You make your prospect smart, show off your knowledge and demonstrate you have their interests in mind.
  • “Best practice” – Share best practices other clients are using to generate greater value or better outcomes from what you’re selling.  Don’t divulge confidential information, but good ideas are not usually subject to copyright.
  • “I had an idea” – Like the previous idea, but make this a singular idea targeted to one of the prospect’s strongest needs/goals for what you’re selling to accomplish.
  • “I had a question for you” – Sometimes, particularly in a bidding process, a period for questions is defined and ends.  But, if not, try asking a question about implementation (presumptive trial close) or customization, so that you can make sure appropriate resources will be made available to support them.
  • “Changes?” – Changes on the prospect side can slow down a deal.  Your prospect is dealing with the changes and likely doesn’t have notifying you of a delay very high on the list.  You can ask if timelines, needs, budget or process has changed on their side.

And, oh yes, use the client’s preferred contact modality.  If they only respond to email, then email.  If they’ve responded to voicemail, then use that too.  You just don’t want to be waiting at the airport when your ship comes in.

If you’re going to FU, make sure you FU creatively and appropriately so you don’t FU your deal!

 

Friday Faves – 8.15.14

gitrdoneThis week?  Read my other blog and you’ll know what it was like.  You have one of those?  Killer, huh?

Here’s the Best Time To Prepare for Your Follow-Up Call – This just makes SO much sense!

Never Stop Prospecting. Ever. – The math on this is amazingly consistent.  Gaps in prospecting show up in your next cycle.  Always.

Why implementation matters – Consider this “after the sale” logic.

 Leads Don’t Hatch Themselves – I’m working with lead gen/nurturing software to automate part of this process.  Auto or not, nurturing leads is critical to your success.

Defining Sales Functions And Programs – Why You Need Vision, Mission, Purpose First – Sometimes Vision/Mission statements are as useful as you know whats on a bull.  But, a relevant focused statement that is put into practice can help drive the results you seek.

Doing the best I can – File this with “no problem.”

The Professional’s Guide to a Stress-Free Vacation – Taking a long weekend next week.  Will try some of these ideas.

Friday Faves – 8.1.14

tough thumbs upHalfway through summer, 1/3 through for what most of us is the toughest quarter.

Be tougher! (Like this guy.)

The Invaluable Nature of Mistakes – Sometimes we learn more from our failures than our successes.

The Subtle Art of the Follow Up – Subtle is important.  Relentless even more.

If you can’t sell it, you can’t build it – What you finish is much more important than what you start.

On Seemingly Adversarial Questions – There is no such thing.  Read my take: Prospect Engagement:  I HEART objections!

Pregnant Pipelines Do NOT Win Prizes! – Accuracy wins over size, but it’s still ok to kill more than you can eat.

Trading favors – True dat!

 

Do you sell all 4 quarters?

scoreI’m not talking about 4 calendar quarters – I KNOW you do that.  You know how football players, in postgame interviews, say “We played all four quarters.” after a win?  THAT is what I am talking about. Do YOU sell with the passion, attention to detail, service mentality and build relationships through EVERY phase of the sales cycle?  Or do you put less effort into some phases than you do others?  Recently, I learned the value of this from a VERY unlikely source – my cable provider.

Last week, 8 inches of heavy, wet snow caused dozens of limbs from a massive white pine to come crashing down in my yard.  Two of them fell across my service lines, snapping the fiber line my provider uses.  We never lost power nor heat, but no cable/internet/landline.  So, I called the provider’s 800# and prepared for an insanely long hold queue; curt, indifferent service and then an even longer wait for the repair, which would require me to be housebound for 12 hours waiting for the cable guy.

1st Quarter – My call was answered very quickly by a friendly and efficient representative. She apologized several times for my outage.  (I kept telling her it was a tree limb and not her fault.)  She was empathetic and also reminded me that I had hotspot service on my phone. (She had ALL my information at her disposal.  Think about CALL PREPARATION in sales.)  She booked the service call for the next day and requested a morning repair, since I told her I worked from home.  She confirmed in detail all the information and said I would get an email confirmation of my appointment, then the technician would call about 60-90 minutes before his/her arrival.  The call concluded with her asking me if I had any questions or needed any further help.

2nd Quarter – I received an email shortly after the call, but then an unexpected text message with a second confirmation and their 800# in case I needed to change the appointment or had another problem.  Then, as the representative confirmed, I got a call on my cell from Scott, the technician, to let me know I was his next stop, in about an hour.   (Consider your follow up, punctuality in this light.)  Even before Scott showed up, I had confidence that I would have broadband/cable/phone that day.

3rd Quarter –   Scott arrived pretty much at his designated time.  He showed me his company ID when I opened the door (as if the hardhat and work gear wasn’t a tell), introduced himself strong and loud as he stuck out his hand.  (Think RAPPORT) Although the mass of lumber on my lawn made it obvious, Scott asked me what happened, when and what the status of my service was right now.  (PROBING) Then, with a smile he said, “I’m gonna go play in the snow for a while.  We’ll have you up and running in about an hour.”  (Setting EXPECTATIONS, but also using humor effectively.)
 4th Quarter – As I saw the Internet light on my modem change from amber to green, I refreshed my CRM webpage, then ran the speed test.  I was thrilled to be back online.  As if on cue, Scott rang the doorbell and I gave him the speed readings.  Thinking we were done, he said he wanted to check the TV set-top boxes and phone line.  (After the sale service, and attention to detail.)  After slipping waterproof booties over his wet boots, he meticulously went from TV to TV, rebooting the set-top boxes and checking the remotes.  He offered a newer remote (at no cost), but advised I would lose certain functionality with it.  When I told him that we used that functionality, he said we were better off with what we had.  (Sound like consultative selling to you?)  I picked up the phone and said “We have TONE!”
From my initial contact, my provider made small closes (appointment, text message, phone call to confirm) and demonstrated thorough follow through and attention to detail that made me feel confident in their ability to deliver as promised and generate value.  Isn’t that the way you want YOUR prospects to feel?