This is the biggest challenge currently experienced by our sales training partners in Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary and Toronto. Midsummer and B2B decision-making don’t tend to be synonymous with each other. After leaving many phone messages and sending emails, it’s easy to get frustrated and start to question your next step. No smart Salesperson wants to be a pest, yet we all know that persistence leads to sales success. How do you determine the fine line between the two? Use these five steps to get clients to return your messages, revive opportunities stuck in the sales cycle, and close sales in the summer:
Step #1: Don’t give up
Convincing yourself that no one makes decisions in the summer is deadly. Well, let’s be more direct. It’s stupid. Universal statements like this are self-defeatist and will result in you missing your sales targets. Salespeople who sell themselves on this attitude are likely in terrible shape for September because they tend to shut down the machine of prospecting, having qualified appointments and creating sales opportunities. As a Salesperson, I made it a practice to prospect no differently in the summer than any other time of the year. I was hoping that my competitors were taking a well-deserved break, showing up late for work and leaving early on Fridays.
Step #2: Don’t Assume
One of my mentors gave me the gift of this statement. It works well in this situation. “The priority that you have for a buyer may not be the same priority they have for you.” It’s amazingly simple and provides clarity in explaining why buyers don’t return your calls and emails. Your job is to do follow-up and attempt to have conversations with buyers to move to the next step of the sales cycle. Their job in the summer is to do their job and cover for someone else who is on vacation. Making you their first priority is just silly thinking. Often the reason for the lack of a returned call or email is because the decision maker has nothing new to tell you. While it would be great to get that message back from the client, buyers don’t think that way. Salespeople do.
Step #3: Use voice mails, emails and text messages together
When working with our clients, I often tell Salespeople that he or she may not be doing something wrong, yet they probably aren’t doing something right. Every buyer will behave differently. Great Salespeople will find out what motivates decision makers to take action. Knowing that your current follow-up efforts aren’t working, you need to do something different. Here’s what works well for me.
I always back up every phone call with an email. My voice mail is quick – no longer than 20 seconds, telling the buyer why I’m calling and informing them that I’ve sent an email as well. My email says that I’ve left them a voice mail in addition to the email. I find this works because everyone has one preferred method of communication over the other. By using email and voice mail, I’m expecting one contact method to be more effective than the other. If that doesn’t work within two days, I will also send a text message. This is why getting all of your buyer’s contact information is vital. Virtually everyone I know treats their text messages with the highest form of importance and attention. It’s usually the most common way for family members to communicate, so use it sparingly and with respect. Don’t forget to identify yourself in the text unless your buyer has your contact information placed in his or her directory.
Step #4: It’s all in the email subject line
The subject line in the email is everything. Don’t send another email with the same subject line a few days later. If the buyer disregarded your first email, why would the second one be noticed with the same heading?
There are a few stages of evolution when writing emails depending on what stage of non-response I’m getting. The first has a subject line of “Friendly Follow-up.” It’s a quick email asking for what I’m seeking. I send another email two to three days later with this subject line “I hope I’m not being a pest.” It says something like this:
“Hi, Dave! I know you’re a very busy person. I want to make the decision process easy for you so you can move onto one of the many tasks you have in front of you. Could you please (action required)?”
My third email steps up the level of intensity. Subject line: “Perhaps this is not the best time?”
“Hi, Dave! I can tell that you are very busy focused on other priorities at this time. Would it be best for me for follow-up with you in the next 30 days? If you do get a moment to respond, I’ve be happy to contact you immediately.”
Here’s my success rate using these three methods: The first is 10%, the second 30% and the third is a whopping 60%. The third usually gets an apology and explanation from them. There’s almost always a reasonable explanation – the CEO came to town, I had to work on a huge project, I had to cover for two people away, etc.
Step #5: Action required with deadlines
We’ve all encountered the situation where the buyer is approaching a deadline and his or her inability to respond to you will have a consequence.
In those cases, I will be quite direct. Subject line: “Action required.” While I realize that we don’t want to put the boots to our clients, we also need to see who’s engaged and being held accountable for a commitment made together. In the end, our clients expect us to be make important things a priority in their world. I’ve actually been told that by a few direct decision makers. My rule is to err on the side of being direct rather than be held responsible for not having the command to get a client’s attention.
What do you think? What ways do you use to get buyers to respond? If you’re thinking of trying any of these methods, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m here to help.
Thanks! Dave Warawa – PROSALESGUY