Following Up on Literature to Set the Appointment: Tip #1

Written by Sean McPheat | Linkedin thumb

25 July, 2011

Follow up written on calendarYou worked hard to get the contact information of the decision maker (DM). You then persevered through hard gatekeeper screens, relatives or other obstacles to reach the DM finally on the telephone. You established some rapport and interest and the prospect looks forward to receiving your literature. Everything is going along perfectly as to your sales process.

However, when you call back to set an appointment, the prospect seems to have switched to an alternate personality. The interest and rapport are gone and the prospect rushes you off the telephone. What happened?

Believe it or not, you caused much of the problem. There are statements and questions most sales people ask when following up on literature that actually hamper the sales process.

What follows is the first of three important tips to help you avoid the all too common above scenario and set more appointments when following up on literature.

#1: Remove the Pressure
The biggest mistake sales people make when following up on sales literature to set an appointment is they ask the DM if they have read the material. It’s usually something like this:

“Mr Prospect, I sent you some literature in the post, have you had a chance to look at it yet?”

This is an extremely harmful question. First, in most cases the prospect has not read the material or may not immediately remember the material or you, the sales person. The prospect now feels pressure to have read the material because you sent it. The prospect feels as if she is the cause of some delay. The prospect feels as if he has not lived up to your expectations.

This causes the prospect to defend him or herself. That is why you hear the DM respond with excuses like, “Well, uh…I was very busy last week…” or “I was out of town…” etc.

With that one question in just three seconds, you have created an adversarial atmosphere:

1. The prospect is on the defense
2. The prospect is trying to justify himself
3. The prospect feels indebted to you
4. The prospect feels as they are at fault somehow
5. The prospect feels they have not lived up to expectations as a business person

The Solution
Do not put the pressure on the prospect to have read or even received the material. Instead, put the pressure on the post or other people in the prospect’s office. Also, exonerate the prospect. Assume they have not yet read the material and that such is ok.

“Mr Prospect, I sent you some literature in the post, I know you probably haven’t had time to look at it yet, but I was wondering…did it arrive safely?”

“Susan, I sent that package to you last week, I know how busy you are and you probably haven’t had a chance to look at it just yet. But do you know if it ever reached your desk?”

With this approach, the prospect feels no pressure and has no need to turn defensive. In addition, the prospect cannot come back with the excuse, “I haven’t read the material yet, call me back…” Also, if by chance the prospect has read the material, then he has exceeded your expectations and feels like a hero!

Coming Wednesday, July 27, 2011—
Following Up on Literature to Set the Appointment:
Tip #2: Put Less Focus on the Material

Happy Selling!

Sean McPheat

MTD Sales Training | Sales Blog | Image courtesy of Big Stock Photo

450 sales questions free report