Written by Sean McPheat |
One of the reasons so many sales people have trouble committing to after sales service and follow up is because they cannot see the return on their investment.
Many people feel that once the sale is closed and the commission earned and spent that any further time allotted to the customer is a waste. After all, you are paid to make sales not to “hold a customer’s hand” after the sale is done. However, effective sales follow up will do more than patronise your customer; it will bring you more sales.
What is post sales follow up?
Let’s forget about selling for a moment…
Following up after the sale is made is just good old fashioned manners!
It shows that you care. I’m sure you’ve been in the situation where someone has sold you something only never to be heard of again. How did it make you feel? I know every time that it happens to me that it doesn’t make me feel good and it doesn’t build any loyalty from me either.
Follow up also doesn’t mean you must bend over backwards and “jump through hoops” at a customer’s whim. While you should always provide your clients with a value that is greater than the money they paid, you will still perform a service.
Follow these three simple steps:
1. Continue to sell
2. Make yourself available
3. Become a liaison for everything
Continue to Sell
What happens to your enthusiasm for your product or service once you close the sale?
Usually when the customer has signed the order, received the goods and paid the bill, the sales person discontinues the “selling.”
At first glance this appears to make sense, because the customer has bought the product; the client has agreed to the service and therefore no more selling is needed.
The sales person feels no need to continue to try to convince the customer, because the customer is “sold.” However, this instant “drop” in your enthusiasm for your product or service can have a detrimental “buyer’s remorse” effect on your customers.
From the client’s perspective, you were first very excited to get the opportunity just to speak to the client about your wonderful product.
You and your company spent a lot of money promoting this product and securing an appointment. You jumped up and down about how essential the product was to your customer and pushed for the sale. You pushed the client to buy the product NOT because you needed the money but because you felt the customer needed the product.
You assured the client that you had his or her best interest at heart. You insisted the prospect buy the service because he would benefit more than anyone. You emphatically claimed that your primary motive was to help the customer and the money was only secondary. Then, once you “got the money,” that was it. It all stopped and you disappeared.
If you are genuinely excited about a product, that excitement should remain with you after the sale, whether the customer makes a purchase or not. Also, it is after the customer makes the initial purchase that their doubt and second thoughts begin to creep in.
It is after the customer has spent his money when his neighbour tells him that he made a mistake or the husband tells his wife she should not have signed the agreement. It is after the sale that the true “OBJECTIONS” arise.
You have to continue to SELL your product to the customer almost as if the customer did not buy: continue to sell the product long after the sale. It’s something that we feel very strongly about and if you ever attend our Sales Training events you’ll know why!
As you visit the customer and continue to sell the product for which the customer has already made the purchase, it strengthens the buying decision in the mind of the customer and raises your level of professionalism. The customer realises that you are still selling even though there is no commission to be made. The customer realises that you actually believe in what you said. The customer’s trust in you grows and this is where the customer will begin to “open up” and inform you of their other needs.
Depending on the product or service you sell, this continuation of the sale, can be simple or very complex. If you sell services that interconnect, then this process will be ongoing and more detailed. You want to come up with three to five ways that you will continue to sell your product AFTER the sale. Here are a few examples:
A. Security systems sales person closes the sale for an alarm system with the business owner. Two weeks after the sale, the sales person visits and takes the customer some recent news articles about robberies in the area, reassuring the customer that his decision was sound and well timed. Another two weeks later, the sales person sends customer a letter in the post with some statistics that show that owners of their systems have never suffered a break in.
B. Car sales person sells new car. Four days after the sale, sends customer a news clipping that shows the car has won new awards for safety. Two months later, sends the customer a birthday card and a note that the demand for the car they bought has increased and pushed up the price and value of their car.
You want to have three to five after the sale “Selling” points for your customer. This can happen over a period of a few months or years due to the nature of your product. In either case, over the course of time, develop and deliver three to five selling points. You can use the form at the end this document to keep track.
Make Yourself Available
Let your customer know that you are “available” anytime for anything. Make an occasional telephone call or send a letter that tells the customer that you are “there” to assist.
It is important NOT to sell on these occasions and you can combine this with your staying in touch occasions. Create three to five ways to inform your customer that you are available.
Remember, these can be days apart or months apart.
Become a Liaison for Everything
One of the most effective ways to maintain account management and to follow up is to become a liaison for your customer to other services and needs.
Become someone that the customer can call for ANYTHING that they may need even though it may not relate directly to your product or service. Become a “resource” for your customers.
For example, let us say that you sell executive training services and your client, Mr. Jones, is a happy customer.
Of course, you will stay in touch with Mr. Jones in as far as providing him with additional training services. However, what of Mr. Jones’ other needs? You find that Mr. Jones is in the market for a new car. You do not sell cars, but one of your clients owns a dealership. You also have clients involved in technology, real estate, finance and insurance. You want to inform your client that before he goes to search the telephone directory to buy anything, to call you first.
Sales Person: “Mr. Jones, please remember that you can call me for anything and I mean anything. As I mentioned, I have a lot of customers in all types of industries in this area. They are all successful people just like you. So, when you need an estate agent or a lawyer, don’t pick up the telephone book, call me first…”
You then become a major resource for the customer; a super directory: a Super Sales Person. This networking will bring you a lot of extra business in addition to keeping your customers happy. Over the course of time, make three to five actions that inform your client that you are the conduit to all of his or her needs.
Setting up a sales follow up process
Is your follow up left to chance or do you actually have a process or a system in place to help you?
It’s an area that I seem to cover a lot in the Sales Coaching that I have with sales people. Some follow up ad hoc and others are right on it!
As with all other areas of your sales it should be well thought through and planned out. Don’t leave anything to chance.
Exactly how often and when do you follow up with your customer? Do you visit? Do you call or send an email?
What records do you keep? How many follow up calls do you make each week and how successful are they? Do you add your customers to an email drop feed campaign?
None of these should be taken for granted. You want your customers to come back to you time and time again so it’s worth developing a solid follow up process.
In closing a word of warning. If you offer a subscription service or some kind of renewal or upgrade and the only time your customer hears from you is when it’s time for renewal then shame on you.
That’s appalling and you don’t deserve their business. Instead, become a useful resource to them in all matters. When you receive an email or call from your customer and it has nothing to do with the product or the sale then you know you’ve “made it”
Until you get to that stage keep in front of your customers and front of mind. And even when you have made that trusted adviser status, take it to the next level because there is always someone else out there ready to eat your lunch for you!
Our Key Account Management Training course will provide you with some more insight into farming your accounts and keeping front of mind status with your clients without becoming a pest!
Originally published: 22 September, 2008
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