How effective are you at following up on sales opportunities? By that I mean after seminars, networking events, proposals-even “old” ones-chance meetings, and so on.
It’s been eye-opening to me over the years to see just how effective simply following up can be. In fact, for salespeople, following up is akin to Woody Allen’s statement that “80 percent of success in life is showing up.” Be where you’re supposed to be when you’re supposed to be there, and you boost your chances of winning tremendously.
Why don’t salespeople and other business developers follow up on contacts? Well, here are a few reasons we’ve heard:
“They didn’t seem that interested, anyway.”
“It’s been too long.”
“I don’t want to seem pushy.”
“They told me they were too busy.”
“I don’t want to interrupt their work right before the holidays.”
And the list goes on. None of those excuses holds water. As soon as you hear one whispering in your ear, take action and follow up immediately. Good things can happen.
After a day-long networking event recently, I pulled 13 business cards out of my pocket from potential prospects, each a company owner, CEO, or president. In other words, busy people.
The next day they each received a brief e-mail from me. A few days later, those who hadn’t responded–which were 12 of the 13 originals–received a phone call from me. If I couldn’t speak with them directly, I left a voice mail. At least one told me, “No,” but gave a logical explanation, and I won’t contact him again directly for several months.
Then, for the higher priority leads, I called a second time. To date I’ve met with or had lengthy (an hour or so) conversations with three (two on site at their businesses; one by phone), have submitted one proposal, and had requests for two more. Will I score three sales? Who knows? But I certainly put myself in a position to simply by following up.
Key Point: Just because a lead doesn’t respond to your first or even second contact attempt doesn’t mean he’s not interested.
Finally, making contact immediately is even more important for leads you receive over the Internet. The reason is that these people are actively looking for products or services like yours. That means several other potential suppliers have been contacted, too, and any delay reduces your chances of making it to the next round of consideration.
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