Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Thin Line Between "Following Up " and "Annoying" Your Potential Customers

Between "Following Up " and "Annoying"
One of the most sensitive issues for any sales representative is to recognize when he’s cultivating a relationship, and when he’s simply destroying it.

A phone call at the wrong time, a not-so-funny joke, not having up to date information about your prospect, not understanding properly what their needs can be, among many other things, can throw away your opportunity to get the business.

There is a thin line which separates "persistent" salespeople from those who are simply "annoying". What can you do to recognize such line and stay within the “persistent” side?

How do you keep yourself as a person who "is worth spending time with" and do not become a "Oh, no, that guy is calling (or emailing ) me again"?

Each contact with a prospect must have a clear goal defined.

Have you ever received a phone call from a sales representative who has been trying to get your attention for a while, just to find out he doesn’t know exactly what to say afterwards? Or that after the usual greeting in a follow up call, the conversation continues with something like "so what’s up? How are things coming together?"

Every phone call, every email or contact with a company or person you do (or pretend to do) business with must have a clearly defined goal

Time is money, and that’s why you’ve to make sure to have a clear goal defined each time you contact a prospective buyer or a customer. Always try to add value to the relationship, you could even prepare in advance the questions you want to review with your prospect, as well as the information you would like to share with him, so that your contact is always seen highly professional.

This simple way, you’ll have a clear and effective plan of action plan to leverage your time and not waste that of your interlocutor.

How would you like to make contact: By phone or email? Which is best?

Using one-way or the other is really a personal matter, which depends on which one you feel more comfortable with. Keep in mind, however, each one has its pros and cons.

Emails allow you to make use of graphics to grab attention and help your prospect understand what you want to convey. It also allows him to pass it to another person within the company, who might be in a better position to give you feedback, if your proposal is of their interest.

However, the dark side of emails is that most of them go straight to the trash can if the recipient can’t establish an immediate connection between the sender and a subject of their interest.

I particularly always prefer a phone call, unless the subject to be treated is purely administrative and doesn’t require any insight or more interaction with my prospects.

A phone call gives you the opportunity to set a more personal, human tone to the relationship. If it's something you feel comfortable with, using the phone can help you create a stronger connection with your prospect faster, and get the person to call you back.

However, the most common thing that happens when you use the phone to approach your customers is that you you don’t get to talk with them right on the first time, and you have to talk instead with a secretary or an assistant, or simply leave a voice message.

The best solution is to use a combination of both methods, so that they complement each other.

Then it’s time to be persistent ... but just for a while.

The difference between being a "persistent" sales guy and a simply "annoying" one, is in the way you handle the contacts you make with your prospects.

If you have sent an email or have made ​​an initial phone call and have not received a reply yet, your responsibility is to make a second follow-up contact, indicating that your intention is to check that everything is allright and confirm the information initially submitted has been received, if it wasn’t not, send it again and coordinate an additional contact.

If you still haven’t got a response by then, and have even try to make a third contact, reminding your prospect that you’ve been trying to reach them and haven’t been lucky, and still nothing happens, it is then time to put things clear.

And this is precisely the most difficult thing to do: Letting your prospect know that you have tried to make contact with their company on several occasions and have not received a response yet.

Let them know you recognize it might not be the best time for them to establish a relationship, and that you don’t want to become a nuisance if the case is that there isn’t a real possibility of business between both companies.

You might even come to think you're a fool because it is you who is throwing the business opportunity away. It ain’t like that.

Usually, if you've done your homework well, at this time you get a response from your prospect. They are usually very busy too and although they’re willing to get back to you, they just can’t find the time to do so and are counting on you to continue to follow up with them.

If you have always made ​​it clear you have a proposition which is authentically valuable and they might find interesting, they will be getting in touch with you or at least would want to.

Regardless, you should give them time to react and take the initiative too.

Any business relationship should be beneficial to both parties involved, which is why you are as interested in contacting them, as they are in talking with you. Both ways. In your side, because you’re completely convinced your offer will be suitable for their business, and them, because they see it the same way.

Keep in mind it’s very easy to stop being persistent and become an annoying salesman.

Some prospects are willing to offer you their time to talk. Others are not. If you are on the sales side, it’s your responsibility to be gentlemanly persistent with your customers and not to become annoying.

How can you do this? Well, you might start by taking into consideration the steps indicated above and you’ll be doing a better job.

Credit Photography: jaykayl / 123RF Stock Photo

Related articles in this blog:
Cold Calling Sales: Where Can You Start From?
What do we really mean by "follow up"?

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