“Yes, that’s a home run!” you’ve probably thought after a very successful sales pitch and believed that you had sealed the deal. And then nothing happened – your prospect disappeared and no papers were signed. Perhaps you committed one of the five sins? Here are the five commandments to live by next time you follow up on a sales pitch!
1. Set a date and format for your follow up
The sales truth about always having the next step planned also applies to what you do after a sales pitch. So the first commandment is to set an exact date and format for your follow up together with your prospect when you have finished your pitch. Vague promises like “call me next week” or “I will send you my tender later this week” often extend the sales cycle!
Are you calling on Monday in two weeks? E-mail in three days? By agreeing on the details for your follow-up, you increase your chances of getting an answer within a reasonable period of time (or at all!) and you don’t have to chase down your prospect. And you won’t be perceived as too intense; instead, you give your prospect the space they need – something that increases the chances of a deal.
2. Lead the way after the yes
Although that yes might feel like the most important thing in the world after having delivered your pitch, it’s important that you don’t forget the steps that come after. Your prospect is probably not interested in the deal itself – they want to solve their problem! So if you suggest a timeline of how to move forward after a yes, you show that the amazing solution you sold can be a reality and not just empty talk. The timeline also lets you keep a “sense of urgency” and close the deal within a reasonable time. “If you give us your answer in a week, we can get started already the day after/following week or month…..”.
3. Always be personal
As a sales rep, you probably want to be efficient and don’t want to waste time on unnecessary things. But selling standardised follow-up mails after a sales pitch is a big no-no! It can come across as though you don’t care about or understand your prospect. But you probably do after all that time you spent talking to them. So show it by referring to details of the company or personal things from when you last met!
When you are personal, you don’t just stand out from the rest (who write “Follow-up from our last meeting” in the subject line), you also make your prospect feel noted and seen. A feeling that is not to be underestimated – 68 percent leave their suppliers because they feel ignored*…
4. Continue to listen
That awaited “yes” can feel like the most important thing in the world after a pitch and all you really want is to get a reply. But the deal is not over yet! So continue to keep your ears and eyes open for both altered needs as well as any reservations from your prospect. Perhaps the conditions have changed recently? Or there is something in your offer that causes hesitation? Ask how they feel and if there is something you can do to help your prospect reach a decision. And listen! Then you have a chance to clarify any concerns and discuss any reservations before it’s too late.
5. Hang in there – and set a rule for when to give up
Perseverance will take you a long way: research shows that 80 percent of all non-routine deals are made after five follow-ups, counting from the initial contact. Five! So be tenacious when you follow up a sales pitch.
At the same time, you can’t keep chasing for an eternity – it will only irritate your prospect and consume your valuable time. That is why it’s a good idea to set a rule for how many times you should try to follow-up before you put the prospect in question “on hold”. For example, five attempts ;).
That’s that, those were the five commandments. And with those, that awesome feeling after a perfect pitch won’t just be a feeling, but will also lead to a signed contract. Go for it!
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*Source: U.S. Small Business Administration and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce