Baker Marketing is in the process of moving office. We have outgrown our current home and have found a lovely place that we would like to prepare for our team and clients.
As a result, I am in the process of liaising with a number of suppliers ranging from technology to the building industry. I have noticed that the quality of a supplier’s sales conversion process impacts significantly on the smoothness of the overall interaction, the progress of the project and my overall stress levels. The different approaches taken to the sales conversion process prompted me to consider the need for good information collection, follow up and communication during the sales process.
But first, let’s look at some great ways to insult and frustrate your customer using a poor approach to sales follow up and information management.
Three Tips to use your Sales Process to Frustrate and Insult Prospects
Your success in insulting and frustrating your prospects during your sales conversion process will be greatly enhanced if you implement the following:
1. Do not keep records of Sales Interactions
This is an important rule and a great way to kick-start your approach to insulting and frustrating your prospects. Do NOT take useful notes (i.e. electronic or legibly handwritten and able to be de-coded by anyone besides your Mother or Therapist) or keep records of the various interactions that you have with your prospect. Treat every meeting with a prospect as an entirely new, exciting and independent event that bears no relationship with any previous meetings, correspondence or telephone communication.
2. Do not manage Sales Information properly
Ensure that any information that you do keep is not stored in a central repository (i.e. database) and is preferably handwritten on loose sheets of paper. This way information will not be able to be easily shared or accessed conveniently should there be a need to review previous planning and decision making completed by the prospect. Treat any second or third meeting with a prospect as an opportunity to ‘start again’ and go right back to the beginning. Most importantly, ensure that it is NOT possible to access any previous information in a way that could contribute towards any form of progress during any subsequent meetings.
3. Never Prepare for a Sales Presentation in advance
This is the most important rule when striving to truly insult and frustrate your prospect.
The Prospect’s deadlines, time or sanity are not important. Therefore, you should not waste YOUR time reviewing the notes and outcomes of any previous sales contact.
Ignore any file history regarding the Prospect and commence every subsequent sales presentation with a ‘blank canvass’ and ‘shoot-from-the-hip’.
If you follow the three steps that I have outlined above I am confident that you will be well on the way to achieving the objective of insulting and frustrating your Prospects.
Alternatively, you may be interested in treating your Prospects with respect. You may care for your Prospects and want to help them achieve their goals and find solutions for their needs using your products and services.
If this is you then my suggestions below may prompt your thinking to uncover areas for you to improve your current sales process.
Five Tips for Sales Follow-up and Information Management
Effective sales follow-up is not just a good way of improving sales conversion rates; it displays respect and care for your Prospect. This in turn sets the scene and provides a valuable platform for you to commence your new client relationship after the initial sale has concluded.
1. Develop a Database and good Database disciplines
This is where you plan and decide what approach you are going to take to your sales database. When you have decided the approach with regard to the selection of the actual database system or software you then need to ensure that you implement a disciplined approach to database and information management. In other words, a disciplined approach to capturing and entering appropriate information so that it can be accessed during the sales and customer relationship management process.
2. Implement a Post-Contact Record
The Post-Contact Record is closely related to Point No. 1 above (Database and Database Disciplines). The Post-Contact Record is simply a tool for capturing relevant information during the sales process. The Post-Contact Record is useful in capturing information from face-to-face, telephone and email sales communication.
The Post-Contact Record often forms the backbone of good Database and sales follow-up disciplines.
3. Integrate the ‘Next-step’ recommendation into Sales Process
The ‘Next-step’ recommendation is often addressed when the sales person uses sales closing techniques to gain commitment to purchase. However, if this is not the case, then the ‘Next-step’ recommendation is often about identifying and recommending the next step (often a small step) toward helping the Prospect gain the information and understanding that they need so that they can make a decision.
Implementing the ‘Next-step’ recommendation is an important part of any sales conversion process.
In the retail and service industries the ‘Next-step’ recommendation is often referred to as the ‘Invite Back’ where the service provider or sales person suggests an appointment for the customer or prospect to return for another meeting or service delivery session.
4. Implement a Pre-Contact Checklist
The Pre-Contact Checklist is a tool that is designed to maximise the outcomes of each face-to-face and telephone sales interaction. The Pre-Contact Checklist serves as a prompt for the sales person to prepare for an impending sales interaction prior to actually sitting in front of the Prospect or making the telephone call.
The impact of even a small amount of pre-contact preparation can be quite impressive.
Improved pre-contact preparation often results in the collating of promised follow up and supporting information, thinking through responses to previous objections raised and other key steps in assisting to help progress the decision-making process of the Prospect.
5. Implement a Post-Contact Follow-up Checklist
The Post-Contact Follow-up Checklist is simply a tool designed to bring together and harness a number of other sales tools. The key objective is to implement good Follow-up and Preparation Disciplines in all sales interactions.
The Post-Contact Follow-up Checklist simply provides a mechanism to double-check that other sales tools and processes have been implemented, including:
- The Post-Contact Record
- Database Updates
- The ‘Next-Step’ or ‘Invite Back’ Recommendation
- The Pre-Contact Checklist
In summary, it is obvious that implementing a disciplined approach to database, information management and follow-up systems will improve sales conversion outcomes.
What is not always quite as obvious is how insulting and frustrating the whole sales process can be for the prospect when things do not go to plan or take longer than expected. This negative impact is exacerbated when sales people do not invest the time or care to ensure capture and good use of all time spent and information provided to them by the Prospect during the sales process.
[Photo by Allan Rotgers via Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons]