Written by Sean McPheat |
You finally reach the decision maker (DM) after a lot of work and getting past a few tough gatekeeper screens. With great skill, you established some rapport and interest and the prospect apparently is looking forward to receiving your literature. Everything is going exactly as written in your sales process.
However, when you call back to set the 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?
It may be hard to believe, but often, you, the sales person, actually caused much of the problem. There are statements and questions most sales people ask when following up on literature that create obstacles and hamper the sales process.
Avoid this all-too-common mistake when following up on sales literature, and you will set more appointments and close more sales!
Pressure the Prospect
The biggest mistake sales people make when following up on sales literature is they ask the DM if they have read the material.
“Yes Steve, I sent you some literature in the post, have you had a chance to look at it yet?”
While this question appears to be logical and innocent, it is extremely harmful. First, in most cases the prospect has not read the material and may not even recall the material. In fact, the DM may not even remember you, the sales person.
However, when you ask this person if they have read the material, the prospect feels pressure to have done so, simply because you went to the trouble to send it. The prospect feels as if they are the cause of some delay. The prospect feels as if they have not lived up to your expectations.
This causes the prospect to defend themself. That is why you hear the DM respond with excuses: “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 their actions
3. The prospect feels indebted to you
4. The prospect feels like they are at fault
5. The prospect feels they have not lived up to expectations as a business person
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.
“Yes, Sarah, 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?”
“Steve, I sent that package to you last week, I know how busy you are and you probably haven’t had a chance to go over it just yet. But did it ever reach 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, so call me back…” In addition, if by chance the prospect has read the material, then they have EXCEEDED your expectations,, which makes them feel like a hero!
When following up on literature, you do not want to create an adversarial situation at “Hello.”
Originally published: 5 July, 2012