Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Call Back to Add Value

I've posted many articles on this blog that talk about not calling to "follow up." It's something I think we're all pretty familiar with, and have heard about frequently. That being said, when I read this article from sales trainer Tim Rohrer I thought it gave great, concrete examples of what to do, rather than what not to do. Here's what Rohrer has to say:

When calling a client after a meeting, never call to "follow up." While you're losing that expression, lose all of these, too:

Check(ing) In
Touch Base(s)
Circling Back

Also, don't call to:

See if you had any questions
Make sure you received my e-mail
Ask if you had a chance to think about my presentation
Find out the result of the conversation with the decision maker or
Wonder about next steps

All of these reasons for calling are about you and they convert you from a solutions provider to a typical product pushing seller that wants to know if he is going to make a sale. "But", you might be saying, "don't we want to know if we are going to make the sale?"

Of course you want to know and you're going to get your chance to find out. But, before that you have to make sure the phone call has value for the prospect.

Therefore, call the prospect back to add value to the sales process. Now, you can't very well call someone back and say:

"Hi Jim, it's Mike. Hope all is well. The reason for the call is to add value to the sales process."

But, that is exactly what you will be doing without saying so. Adding value to the sales process is easy if you spend just a couple of minutes thinking about your presentation. What did the prospect say about the most important of their objectives? Identify one or two and then address those issues at the beginning of the call-back. For example, if the prospect indicated that speed of installation was important you might say,

"Hi, Jim, it's Mike (from company X). After our meeting, remembering that speed of installation was important to you, I checked with the warehouse. Do you have a minute to hear what I found out?"

Undoubtedly, Jim will have a minute to learn what you found out because this information has value to him. Now, if speed of installation wasn't important you wouldn't call back to discuss what you found out when you checked with the warehouse.

Instead, you might address the question of tax breaks, or color selection, or availability or trade-in value. Whatever the prospect identified as important!

"Hi, Jim, it's Mike (with Company X). After our meeting, I called the Regional Vice President of our company, who is the foremost authority on tax implications related to our products. Do you have a second to learn about the tax advantages of buying this month?"

"Yes!"

"Hi, Jim, it's Mike (with Company X). After our meeting, I scoured every single source to find the color you wanted and guess what?"

"What?"

Each of these call backs will be welcomed by the prospect - your call has added value to the sales process. Once you've begun a conversation with them about their issues, it's perfectly okay to ask for some information about your issues. To always call back with additional value think about the one or two most important issues revealed during the sales presentation and then call back:

1) With additional, relevant information
2) To offer an alternative solution (e.g. "I was thinking about the solution and I've come up with something that will work better. Do you have a minute to discuss why the alternative solution is better than the original?")
3) To confirm your solution was endorsed by an expert (e.g. "After our meeting, I ran into our Chief Technology Officer and ran my ideas past him. Do you have a second to hear why he thought our plan was a good one?")
4) To offer an incentive (e.g. "I just learned of an important rebate on the product we were discussing. Do you have a minute to learn about the effect on your price?")
5) To inform about deadlines (e.g. "The rebate we discussed is set to expire at the end of the month.")

Here's how a call-back with value might go:

"Hello, this is Jim."

"Hi Jim, it's Mike with Company X. After our meeting, I had a discussion with my sales manager about your most important concerns. Do you have a minute to hear what I found out?"

"Yes."

"Okay. Regarding point #1, she said that we could absolutely do it. On point #2, she said that under normal circumstances she wouldn't do it. However, if you can make a commitment by the end of the week she would make an exception."

"Good. Okay, well that's good news."

"Yes. In light of this new information, what are the next steps in the process. Do you think your team will be ready to move forward by the end of the week, or no?"

Call back to add value to the sales process and you will be able to move the process along much more smoothly than if you were calling simply to follow up!

Tim J.M. Rohrer is a recognized leader in sales and sales management. He writes about his experiences in advertising sales on his blog at http://www.salesandmarketingloudmouth.com. Currently employed as a Sales Manager at Radio One in Atlanta, he can be reached through e-mail at [email protected]

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