Selling Skills

When does persistent become stalking?

Every great sales person understands that the gold is in the follow-up. No matter how swimmingly the first meeting goes, if they don’t sign on the dotted line (and unless you’re selling a purely transactional service, that isn’t going to happen), you have to persuade them to take the next step with you.

Let’s say you really did “bond” at the association meeting last week. You and your prospect sat next to each other at lunch and when you asked if you could follow-up with her, and if she had a card, she said yes to both. You are a happy camper.

Two days later you phone and your message goes to voice mail.
First mistake: You didn’t ask or confirm when would be a good time to follow-up, and how she might prefer your follow-up (booked phone appointment, email, lunch?).

A week later you email to tell her that you left a message and that you’ll call her again, and you receive no response.
Second mistake: You didn’t consider why she might be interested in reading your email. She knows you phoned (she strategically avoided your call when it popped up on her caller id) and you’ve given her no reason to want to talk further with you.

Next week you call again. Voice mail says she is on business in Hong Kong until next Wednesday. You hang up.
Third mistake: You said you would call but you didn’t show reliability, or show her you care about her, because you hung up.

Next Wednesday, you call again. Voice mail. You hang up again.
Fourth mistake: She just got back! She is swamped with work that is important to her. You didn’t consider what would be best for her. Also, she saw your caller id again when she briefly glanced at her ringing phone and thinks to herself, “Oh, I really would like to talk with her because I have a small VIP meeting soon but I just have to get through this trip report first.”

Two weeks from Wednesday, you email her:
Hi, I’ve tried contacting you several times and have been unsuccessful in reaching you. I would like to have the opportunity to talk with you about your upcoming meetings. With our 90,000 sq feet of meetings space, we can solve any of your meetings challenges. Please call me to learn more about the ABC Hotel.
Fifth mistake: Your email is boring, self-centered and irrelevant. You aren’t clear in your purpose for any of your communications. All you really want to do is start a trusting relationship and that opportunity has been lost.

Two weeks from Wednesday (end of quarter) and you email again:
Hi, Get a 22% discount on your meeting break and free meeting room internet. Book before tomorrow and you can enjoy additional concessions and benefits at ABC.
Sixth mistake: Everything. You’re giving away the store out of desperation for the sale. You’re probably feeling like a failure because you thought you had established a good relationship and you even reported it as “in the funnel” to your DOS. And you’ve become a stalker.

Persistence becomes stalking when you care more about connecting that about helping the other person achieve.

Next time, remember to ask not just, May I follow up? but May I ask when might be a good time to follow-up? Great. I’ll plan to phone you then. Will that be ok?

If that is inappropriate, when you follow-up, follow-up with the goal of starting, maintaining and building a trusting relationship. Your job is to help them buy not stalk ’em.

What do you think?

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