One of our sales training clients in Edmonton is experiencing a common frustration – How do you get potential clients to return your message? No matter the experience level of the Professional Salesperson, we can all get discouraged with our repeated efforts to follow up with customers that seem to be focused on other priorities. Here are three ways that have worked extremely well for me.
We have all been there – many times over. Message after message. It seems like a game of cat and mouse. Why is this potential client not getting back to me? Are they not interested? Have they decided to buy from someone else? What did I do wrong? These are all questions that spring to mind after leaving several unreturned phone calls or emails.
Have you ever heard this phrase?
In Sales, it’s not the “Nos” that drive you crazy, it’s the “Maybes.” Maybe I’ll buy, maybe I won’t. This stuff makes seasoned veterans shake their head. This is why your Sales Manager says you should have many clients in your sales funnel or pipeline. You are doing your job – client follow up. Yet, you’re starting to run out of things to say when you reach your customer’s voice mail.
Does this make sense?
Most Professional Salespeople would agree on a few points here:
“Yes” answers tend to come quickly. The greater the sense of urgency to proceed, the quicker the potential client takes the initiative to give you the green light. Longer periods of decision making usually result in a “no” response.
Our customer’s priority of giving you an answer is usually not equal to your personal expectations of receiving it. Think about it. It’s your job to make presentations and confirm business many times per week. It’s your client’s job to do many things other than spend money with you. When they get your message, they aren’t ignoring you. They just haven’t made it a priority to get back to you. Often, there are justifiable reasons for the delay – budget considerations, committee approval and the time required to receive other supplier’s proposals.
I hear you
Then, why not at least, return my message and tell me that? There is only one good explanation for this. It’s because this is about your client and his or her priorities, not yours! Here’s how to get on your potential client’s radar.
Two forms of contact
When doing follow up with a potential customer, I will often leave a message on their voice mail (office or cell) to tell them that I’m sending them an email. This gives the opportunity to leave a short, clear voice mail that simply prefaces a more detailed form of communication via email.
“Hi (name), it’s Dave Warawa calling from PROSALESGUY TRAINING. I’m sending you an email in regard to (topic – the proposal we discussed last week.) My number is (250-339-3355, 250-339-thirty three, fifty five) Thanks (name)!”
Why repeat their name and your phone number twice? See Chapter 21 of SHUT UP! Stop Talking and Start Making Money.
By using these two forms of follow up, voice mail and email, your message has double the impact. You are using the audio of a brief voice mail to tee up the visual nature of an email for better client retention. Obviously, you want to use your discretion with how often you do this. Annoying a client with a double message on every contact will not help your cause.
The Three Steps to Getting your Messages Returned
Here are the three stages of email contact I use. They are an evolution in my efforts to get on a client’s radar. I graduate to each new step once I’m convinced that I’m still not getting through to them. How quickly you send the next email is a discretionary call based on the sense of urgency you feel the potential client has in taking action.
Step #1: The First Email
The subject in the email reads, “Friendly follow up.” This is very amicable and an easy-going way of reaching out.
“Hi (name)! I’m doing some follow up on our discussions… (Context). Please call me or reply back to this email should you have any questions or concerns. Thanks (name)!”
Step #2: The Second Email
The subject now takes a different tone to “I hope I’m not being a pest.” This is a sincere, honest way of trying to communicate that you want to have a discussion, yet don’t want to be pushy.
“Hi (name!) I know how busy you are. I want to make sure you don’t feel I’m being pushy, yet know that I’m enthusiastic about helping you… (Context). Please take my email as an indication of my passion to want to do business with you. Thanks (name)!”
Step #3: The Third Email
The subject is “This is probably not the best time.” This tells the client that you feel it’s appropriate to back off, leave them alone and respectfully follow up later when the timing is better for them.
“Hi (name)! I appreciate that our timing right now may not be best to have a conversation about working together. Please know that I understand the demands on your time. If you had a moment to call or email me, you probably would have by now. Is there a better time in the future that I should follow up with you? Thanks (name!)”
Are you making the client feel a little guilty for not making you a priority? Yes. Is this appropriate? You be the judge based on the results you get using it. Often, you will get a response from this email. It’s either a call or email apologizing for not getting back to you with an explanation.
What Happens if Step #3 Doesn’t Work?
If there is no response start the follow up process over again once you feel the appropriate amount of time has passed since the last communication. You will decide when it’s time to give up. That decision will greatly depend on how many ideal, engaged customers you are currently working with.
One Last Point
Don’t miss this step. When meeting with your potential client for the first time, ask them this:
“What’s the best way to communicate with you – your office line, cell phone or email?”
Find the quickest, most effective way to fast-track communication with your client at the start of your relationship.
I would love to hear of your feedback and results using these techniques. Feel free to comment below or send me an email
Thanks for reading!
PROSALESGUY TRAINING offers Group Sales Training, Individual Sales Training, Sales Management Mentoring and Consultation, and Business Consulting Services in Victoria, Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary. Training can be done on site or via web conferencing.