Your success will come in planning and taking action
: setting an overall goal, prioritizing, and thinking the whole plan through in intense detail. This means thinking in terms of a campaign, not individual battles. The more detailed your planning, the more confident you will feel, and the easier it will be to stay on course once the inevitable problems arise.”
Now, you may not be a big fan of unreasonable marketing, but you should agree with me; growing any business it helps to attract the challenge! You have to hit the street running and do your best to win, if you don’t, the battle is over before you start. You have to have an unshakeable belief in yourself and your service that you sell. If you don’t, find something else to sell! I am big on taking Action!
My Weekly and Daily System.
I keep track of my daily sales activity with my Day Runner and my spiral notebook. My Day Runner is my daily scheduler and I write down in my spiral notebook what I discuss with my prospects and clients. I write down every conversation, that way I can refer back to what my client and I discussed and the outcome. It doesn’t matter how you keep track, it’s just important to keep track on a daily basis. You definitely have to know where you’ve been, who you talked with and the outcome. Without this system, I wouldn’t be able to follow up in a timely intelligent manner.
I organize my day the night before, so when I start in the morning, I know who I am going to call on the phone and who I will meet in person.
Cold Calling –It’s an Attitude. I Love it!
Cold calling. Even the name is chilling, and you’re not alone if you dread the process. In fact, many people consider cold calling the most intimidating aspect of the sales process.
Unfortunately, cold calling is a necessary part of selling; if you want to grow your business, you have to contact new prospects. With practice and successes, you will learn to love it or at the least like it!
The objective of the cold call is to get the appointment. Nothing else. I’m a little wary about sending out brochures in advance. If they already have the information on your company’s products and services, why do they need to meet with you? You are a much, much more effective salesperson in person, than any small brochure is.
First of all, let’s make it clear that much cold-calling success is dependent on attitude. You have to view it as a challenge, and you have to have a competitive spirit. If you think the telephone weighs 250 pounds, guess what, you will not make cold calls. Pick up the phone! The key to any skill is practice; it’s the same with cold calling…practice, practice, practice!
One small technique that I use and recommend is to directly ask for an appointment at a certain time. Instead of saying, “Would there be a chance to meet with you sometime next week?” say, “Would next week on Tuesday at 10:30am be a good time to meet or would 1:00pm be better?” Take action. Be the aggressor.
Here are a couple of my other personal tips. Say to the person, “All I’m asking for is 10 minutes of your time, believe me, I would not be wasting your time or mine if I didn’t know for a fact that I can help you!” Another comment when someone is pressed for time is, “All I’m asking for is 10 minutes, I’ll even bring in a stopwatch, and you can time me.” This reinforces that you respect that person’s time.
Make gatekeepers your allies.
Secretaries and administrative assistants stand between you and the decision maker of a business. As such, these people can be valuable sources of information; they can direct you to the right person and help you to understand how their company might use your product or service. Always treat them with respect.
What is this call regarding?
This is the gatekeeper’s most famous question.
How do you handle the gatekeeper’s most famous question if you have had no prior contact with them or the prospect at all? Humor is the key to reducing resistance and inspiring curiosity. In order to really pull this off, you need confidence and a positive attitude and when these three traits are combined you now have increased your odds of getting past the gatekeeper and speaking with the decision maker.
Below are a few creative and innovative lines that you could use when the gatekeeper asks, “What Is This Call Regarding?” Once you have used one of these lines to warm up your sales call then you can state the exact reason for your call and offer a benefit as to why your call should be transferred. Remember after each of these responses it’s also important that you smile on the telephone as you are saying them and then pause appropriately to hear how they respond. Don’t come off as a smart alec.
If you have responded to their famous question with no luck then you could try this last ditch response, “(First name of gatekeeper), if you were me, what would you do now?” I use this one a lot.
“Let me ask you a question, how would you like a raise?” (The gatekeeper will respond: “What do you mean?” You reply “I have a brilliant idea that will save your boss a lot of money. If you will transfer my call to your boss and if the results of the conversation are overwhelmingly positive then who do you think he will thank? You!!! So why not transfer me, right?”) It helps if you have a sense of humor.
· I’ve been trying to reach (first name of prospect) for about one year now (or list another time frame here), talk about persistence!
· “Look, I’m making a cold call and I’ve been trying to reach (First name of prospect) for (List time frame here), do I at least get an ‘A’ for persistence?”
· “This will be the most important call that you will take today!”
Now it’s your turn to create a response.
Bottom Line: There are only two techniques you need to make cold calling a success: ask the right questions and listen to the replies. Nothing more. It is that simple. Try it!
Prepare an opening statement for your cold call.
Include a greeting and an introduction, a reference point (something about the prospect), the benefits of your product or service, and a transition to a question or dialogue. For example, “Good afternoon, Bob. This is Molly Brown with XYZ. I read in the local paper that you recently broke ground for a new office complex (or addition). We specialize in saving our money. I believe I can save you some money, I’d like to ask a few questions to determine whether one of our programs might meet your needs.” Just peak their interest. Then go for the appointment.
Make your plan, work your plan. Follow-up.
Most small business owners hate planning or don’t know how to do it, or they don’t stick with the plan once they run into adversity.
Planning is the key step between gaining knowledge and implementation. There are three crucial steps in designing a marketing action plan for a service business:
1. Planning in marketing isn’t so much about what you will do, it’s about what you will communicate and when.
Marketing in essence is asking your prospect point blank questions to understand their situation: Your feedback: Here’s your situation as I understand it; here’s something I have to address that situation; this is why I think you’ll be interested in it; this is how it could benefit you; this is what to do next to find out more.
And then your plan is to design the vehicles that will carry that message and when and how those vehicles will be delivered to your prospects in the most cost-efficient and impactful manner.
2. In planning your marketing you need to understand exactly where your prospects are in relation to you and your service. Ask lots of questions.
So, for instance, if you’re introducing a service to a new market, the first step of your plan is to get their attention and build some familiarity, not to close the sale right away.
Only when you’ve built your credibility, provided information and given prospects a taste of what your service can do for them do you ask for the next step: a conversation to explore. Give before you receive. Build trust.
3. This conversation needs to be planned and prepared for just as much as the steps that led up to it.
What research will you do before the meeting? What questions will you ask to determine the situation, needs and challenges of the prospect? What questions will help you uncover the underlying motivations and desires in the heart of the prospect?
Then what exactly will you tell about your service that will move the prospect to taking the next step? How will you appeal to both their wants and their needs?
The Plan In Action.
What does a plan like this actually look like in practice? Below is the outline of an action plan I use very successfully.
1. Design and develop a program to offer your service.
2. Create a target list of prospects.
3. Cold call by walking into their business or calling on the phone.
4. Become very good at making appointments on the telephone.
4. Always talk to the decision maker.
5. When following up, always have something new to tell the prospect.
6. Ask questions to find their needs.
7. Know your product or service.
8. Practice your presentation skills.
9. Ask for the business.
10.After initial telephone or in person presentation, follow up with a letter.
11.Follow up by email or phone to confirm moving forward.
12.Network, pass out business cards, be ready with your elevator speech.
12a. Never Give Up!
A plan like this is very strategic, very directed towards producing a specific result. Nothing is left to chance. Each of the steps is fine tuned until it performs optimally.
Will you create intensely detailed marketing plans or will you make vague plans resulting in vague results?
The Sales & Marketing Bottom Line. You will only produce consistent results in your marketing to the degree that you develop intensely detailed action plans and execute them with focus and persistence.
A comprehensive follow-up plan not only requires strategic planning but a complete understanding of your target market and the entire sales process as well. You will also need to know how to implement various communication tools in your follow-up effort, such as email sales brochures, email sales letters, telephone sales presentations and how to direct prospects to your website. Get an in person meeting.
WHAT TO EXPECT.
Follow-up is a critical component of the sales process, as well as an important element of on-going customer development. The information here will explain how to create and execute an effective follow-up plan that will increase your sales as well as maintain and expand your client base. Make the cash register ring baby!
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW BEFORE GETTING STARTED.
Follow-up is an on-going aspect of most sales efforts. It specifically refers to each step taken beyond the initial contact with the prospect, or potential client. Whether initial contact was made by mail, phone, or in-person, any subsequent contact is follow-up.
For What Types of Business Should Follow-Up be Employed?
Most prospects need little time to consider the merits of an inexpensive purchase since little money is involved. The risk for the buyer is minimal and therefore, little, if any, follow-up will be required to close a sale. Certain types of sales, however, will require extensive follow-up efforts since prospects will take more time to consider them.
High Priced Items: It’s almost unheard of for a person to buy a new car quickly. Most consumers will conduct extensive research, visit several dealers, and agonize greatly over choosing a new car. That’s because it’s a major expenditure. Smart businesses are like smart consumers. They will shop around to try to get the best price and service possible before committing to any significant expenditure.
New Technology: New computers and machinery that employ new technologies often employ high price tags. They’re also perceived as risky purchases because the track record for their use is not well established. Plus, people rarely make quick decisions about things they don’t understand.
Services: Since services are less tangible than physical products, they are often a bigger challenge to sell. It can take a lot of patience and follow-up on the part of a salesperson to make a sale. A product can be seen, touched, and judged on the spot, but a service can only be explained or imagined. That’s why prospects may delay the decision to buy. Remember, we are in the education business! So show and tell.
How Much Time is Involved in Sales Follow-Up?
Follow-up isn’t a scientific process that can be measured. Sometimes it can involve several mailings, phone calls, and business meetings to close just one sale. Other times, one phone call and one office visit is sufficient follow-up for making a deal.
Some sales people work on getting accounts for months and even longer. It will depend on how tough your product or service is to sell. The length of follow-up will also depend on how much of a commitment you’re willing to make to developing and maintaining your client base.
PROCESS OF PREPARING A FOLLOW-UP PLAN
Develop a Sales Follow-Up Plan
Execute Your Plan
Develop an On-Going Follow-Up Plan
A. Establish Your Objectives
Before you begin you must answer two important questions:
Who is my prospect and how badly do I want their business?
Understanding your target market is the most basic ingredient to effective follow-up. During all of your contact with your prospect, you will have to convince them your product offers them a benefit they want and need. You will also have to anticipate what their objections will be to your product or service and be prepared to overcome them.
Benefit: The benefit your target market wants and needs is the ability for you to produce results.
Your Prospect’s Main Objection: Your service is too expensive.
Your Counterpoint: Not if you consider that your inventory that you don’t sell today, is gone for ever! You can’t sell yesterday’s air time or printed space.
Write down your product’s or service’s main benefits and value:
Anticipate your prospect’s main objection and overcome it.
“Always be ready with your elevator speech.”
You must determine how badly you want a prospect’s business because you must decide exactly what you’re willing to do to get it. Special offers, price discounts, anything you do to provide incentive for your prospect to make a decision to buy will become a strategic consideration of your follow-up.
Because certain businesses will become major your major clients, you may decide if you want to offer them a special. Putting a limit on this offer will help move the sales process along by establishing a sense of urgency in the prospects mind. That’s why you must always put a specific limit on the life of any offer or incentive — “Offer good to January 1.”
How much time will you devote to following-up with any one prospect?
Again, you must decide how important a potential client is to your business and determine how much time you will invest to try to get it. You will be taking time away from other prospects to ardently pursue one account.
Making this determination will depend on:
How much prestige the account will generate for you. Someone established and respected in their field can be a valuable referral and help you generate new accounts.
How much business volume the client offers. Is this client going to work with you and help you referrals? The answer will help dictate how much effort should be made to close the sale.
Where the prospect is located. If you can visit a client’s office easily for meetings, your follow-up won’t be as burdensome as it would be if the prospect is located in a different city.
B. Develop a Sales Follow-Up Plan.
What’s the most effective way for you to communicate with a prospect on an on-going basis? Though it varies from company to company, three factors are common in developing any follow-up plan:
Decide on Your Sales Approach. Standard operating procedure is to first generate sales leads, then to cold call or telephone the prospect. It’s also typical for many companies to mail the prospect information first before telephoning, in which case the phone call becomes the follow-up. Which is better? Again, there’s no fixed rule. Whatever the system, if it works, it’s a good system. If you’re not certain about which method is best, mailing a sales letter with supporting material first can help your follow-up efforts by:
…building credibility. If a prospect has never heard of you, they may not take your call. If they do take your call, they may think, “Who is this guy promising to solve my customer service problems?” Mailed material helps bridge this gap. It conveys your image to the prospect. Your letterhead and logo, your writing style, your sales materials all communicate who you are to the prospect.
…overcoming a prospect’s objection. If you mailed a sales letter, the follow-up call is likely to last longer than if you didn’t mail anything first. That’s because the person is likely to tell a sales rep, “I’m very busy. Why don’t you send me something in the mail?” You can counter by saying that you already have sent something in the mail. It helps buy you time on those tricky first phone calls.
…getting you noticed. If your sales letter gets lost on a prospect’s desk, you can tell them on your follow-up that you’ve sent a letter or informational material. It increases the chances that they will seek out your material and read it.
Identify Your Prospect. How you should make initial contact and how much time you should plan to spend on follow-up will depend on the potential customer.
…personal contact. If you’ve met your potential client at a trade show or cocktail party, it will be easier for you to get an appointment with them. Any positive, personal contact helps establish relationships and moves follow-up along. If your initial contact is in-person, following-up with a phone call is highly appropriate.
…referral. If one of your existing clients recommends you to an another client or associate, moving to close a sale will take less follow-up because you’ve already overcome a sense of risk on the prospect’s part. Your initial contact is likely to be a telephone call and your follow-up will be in the form of meetings.
…existing customer. If you are trying to get an existing customer to increase his business, your follow-up will be highly personal since you already have an established relationship.
…former customer. If you’re trying to win back a former customer, especially if there were problems with the account, you should plan on spending a lot of time on follow-up. Building trust is one of the key elements of a good sales relationship and one of the goals of any follow-up campaign.
…new prospect. Even if the lead is a qualified one, new prospects require the most effort and take the most time for follow-up. If there’s no relationship, one will have to be developed over time.
Think about your approach — how you will make your initial client contact, then how you will follow-up.
For example, suppose you’re a company called Party Planners, and you provide corporate catering and party planning services.
You have two potential clients: Client A is a referral, client B a new prospect. You telephone the referral and email a letter and brochure to the new prospect.
Your approach for Client A: Telephone September 2; follow-up meeting on September 12.
Your approach for Client B: Mail sales information September 1. Will follow-up by telephone on September 9. Will offer free hors d’ oeuvres for ten people if they sign by October 1.
Organize Yourself. Establish specific dates for follow-up and then stick to them. It’s tempting to tell yourself: “I’ll get to that next week.” You might have the best intentions of following through, but you might get caught up in other business matters. Giving yourself a specific day to telephone a client or mail information will give you a short-term goal to meet.
Pick a time of day for each aspect of follow-up. Block off time for yourself that you will dedicate to making phone calls, meeting with clients, and mailing information. Phone calls are often best in the morning before your prospect’s day has a chance to get hectic. Many business people often come to the office early and stay late, so off-hours are good times to phone. It’s during off-hours that many key buyers and decision-makers answer their own phones; assistants and secretaries may not be in the office yet.
If you favor lunch meetings, it’s important to remember that it’s not always the most productive time to meet. If you have a complicated product or service to explain, a lunch meeting won’t be the best atmosphere for a serious, focused discussion. Lunch meetings, because they lend a social aspect, are best in the beginning to help establish the relationship or later to maintain good client relations.
You know when you work best and are the most productive, but you need to consider the time that is best for your client. A good time for me is early morning. The sales manager for Party Planners might like to phone first thing in the morning, but if the prospect has a morning meeting everyday, she will have to adapt her schedule to fit the prospects.
Consider purchasing a daily planner to keep you organized. There are many computer programs available to help manage busy schedules. I personally like a day runner and a notebook. I always plan my day the night before in my day runner and then write my results and who I talked with that day. I couldn’t operate without my system. It’s like a road map for me. Develop a system for profiling and tracking your progress with all of your prospects. It doesn’t have to be elaborate to be effective.
Suggestion: Create a customer sheet with space to record initial contact, follow-up efforts, special offers, and objections. Buy an inexpensive three-ring binder to store the profiles. At the end of the day, update entries and use it to plan for upcoming follow-up efforts.
Use this to supplement your traditional filing system. You can’t keep all of your files on your desk, but a three-ring binder is a convenient method to summarize your files and to keep them at your fingertips.
C. Execute Your Plan.
Whether you choose to phone your client, email a letter, or meet in-person, make sure each client contact yields the maximum advantage.
The purpose of a sales letter is…to communicate your product or service’s benefit.
For example, Party Planners will emphasize cost effectiveness and time savings in their sales letters…to overcome your prospect’s objections. If, when speaking with a prospect, Party Planners met with the objection, “Why should I pay you to plan our office Christmas party when my secretary can do it for free,” their sales letter would overcome this objection. For example:
“When we spoke, you mentioned that your secretary usually plans your office parties. Planning an office party takes a lot of concentrated effort. That means instead of tending to her daily work load she must call restaurants and caterers….”
Move the closing process forward by making a limited special offer. For example:
“If you commit today during our special offer we can
___________________ . This offer is available only to new clients who join with us by November 15.”
Follow these general guidelines for creating effective sales letters:
If your initial contact was a face-to-face meeting, don’t use a headline. A headline on your sales letter will depersonalize your communication. Remember, follow-up builds a personal relationship.
State your strongest benefit in your lead paragraph. Your potential clients want to know what you can do for them. Your lead paragraph should be compelling. You need to grab your reader’s attention. Asking a question, creating a scenario, telling your reader important information they may not know are all effective ways to start your sales letter.
Wrong: “_______ is founded on the principle that quality comes first. Established in 1999, we’ve doubled our sales in the last year alone.” Who cares?
Right: “Here’s a list of new clients we are working with. I am sure you know some of these fine businesses, if not; I can introduce you.
Offer proof of what you’re saying to eliminate risk. Testimonials, product reviews, and endorsements should be used in your sales letter and in person presentations whenever possible.
Tell the reader what your next follow-up move will be. For instance, will you be sending a product sample or calling next week to schedule an appointment? Don’t leave your subsequent client contact up to the prospect. Prospects rarely follow-up with sales people, especially in the beginning of the follow-up process.
Whether it’s your second call to a client or your tenth, the principles of good phone follow-up always apply.
Always ask the prospect if it’s a convenient time to talk. If the prospect is rushed, on deadline, or late for a meeting, don’t try to keep him on the phone. Ask when a better time to phone them would be. Again, don’t leave it up to them to call you back.
Never stop reinforcing benefits and meeting objections. Once you have a good rapport with a prospect, it’s easy to forget that you need to constantly remind them of your product’s benefits.
If your first follow-up attempt is a telephone call don’t say: “This is Sue from ____. I sent you a letter and a sales brochure last week, did you get it?” Nothing is more irritating to a potential customer than this question. Chances are your prospect’s desk is loaded with similar letters. You’ve made a bad and ineffective first impression. A better way to start a follow-up conversation would be, “Hi this is Sue from _______ we met at the Chamber mixer, you said to give you a call. I was wondering if we could meet this Thursday at 10am, will that work for you?
If the prospect says “no,” don’t force it. Ask when a better time to phone is, and let them know you sent them information last week in the mail.
If you’re following-up in person, even if you can’t close the sale, you have an opportunity to gather information that will help you build the relationship.
Listen. Many sales people make the mistake of talking too much. Your prospect is the single greatest source of information to move you towards a successful close. You can listen yourself into a sale!
Be patient. Don’t try to get the prospect to sign on the dotted line after one meeting. That simply may not be possible in all sales situations. Even if you can’t close, an in-person meeting is an excellent opportunity to gather ammunition for a subsequent follow-up:
Find out what product or service the prospect is currently using. Ask them what they like and don’t like about it. This will help you identify which benefits are most important to them.
Ask them how their decision-making process works. This will point you to other people in the company who should receive information about your product or service.
Determine what your obstacles to closing will be in the future. This will give you more time to prepare your strategy for overcoming objections.
Some more thoughts about sales follow-up:
Be flexible. You might have to change your follow-up strategy as you go. Build on your successes. For example, if you’ve determined that your sales letter is more effective when it contains supplemental information, you should include a sales brochure in all your mailings. You may also find that some of your sales letters are effective and some aren’t. Study them and try to determine why. Some special offers work better than others. Identify the winners and use them whenever possible.
Be prepared to act quickly. Sometimes you think the follow-up process might take months, and then to your surprise the prospect decides to buy. Always be prepared for the unexpected.
Don’t follow-up excessively. Don’t telephone your potential client twice a day, and don’t inundate them with literature about your company. You will become a pest. Give a prospect time to receive material, consider it, and go through their own company purchasing channels. Use your common sense as you establish a balance between calling too much and not calling enough. Think how you would feel about a sales person calling you frequently.
Know when to quit. You can’t follow-up forever, and you will not be able to close every sale. Trust your instincts. If they’re telling you, “this company is never going to make a decision,” then chances are they won’t. The follow-up process in the next section of this Business Builder will advise you on how to maintain contact after you determine to end the sales follow-up process.
D. Develop an On-Going Follow-Up Plan.
If you make a sale, follow-up continues. Once a prospect buys your product or service and becomes a customer, you will need to solve any problems that may arise to get them to continue to use your product and service on a regular basis.
But even if you don’t close a sale, you can still employ a follow-up plan to maintain contact with a prospect with the goal of someday turning them into a client. When you can no longer afford the time it takes to telephone, write sales letters, or visit a prospect, follow the guidelines outlined below for continuing the relationship.
Build Your Mailing List. When you determine that you will not be able to close a sale or if the prospect buys from your competitor, add that person’s name to your follow-up list. You might already have a system in place to execute mailings to your existing customers and new prospects. You might be sending them new sales literature, clips of articles about your company, or favorable product reviews. Why not send them to your prospects as well? Maintaining contact will keep your name and your product or service in their minds and at some point, if they become dissatisfied with your competitor, they might consider buying from you.
It’s likely that you’re already employing several key tools essential to an on-going follow-up effort for other purposes. This means you can increase the cost-effectiveness of producing each one by further employing it as a sales tool. The following are sales and promotional tools you can employ in your follow-up:
Press Releases. A press release is primarily sent to the media in hopes of getting them to write about or feature your company or product. Because a press release contains new or newsworthy information, it’s also appropriate to send to prospects.
Company Newsletters and tip sheets. The purpose of a company newsletter or tip sheet is to provide information about a company or its products. When used most effectively, these communication vehicles contain information that a prospect and members can use.
For example: Party Planners publishes a two page tip sheet four times a year. It offers suggestions to corporations on how to save money when planning office parties. Not only is this a good public relations tool, it also establishes Party Planners as knowledgeable experts.
Sales Brochures. As your company grows, you will create new sales brochures. Sending a sales brochure will inform your old prospects about your new products, product improvements, and new features.
Publicity. Anytime your product is reviewed in a publication or an article is written about you or your company, you should mail your prospect a copy. Clip the review or article and paste neatly onto your letterhead and have it copied. Publicity is an excellent endorsement.
Holiday Cards. Add old prospects to your holiday mailing list. Cards that are preprinted don’t even require a signature, but lets the prospect know you’re still thinking of them.
Personalize your follow-up.
Tell the prospect what’s new with your company or product. Consider generating a sales letter or telephoning an old prospect every few months or so. This is especially important if you have a new product, new feature, or are employing a new technology. Created a monthly newsletter. Keeping the prospect informed can open up a new sales opportunity.
Ask the prospect what’s new with his/her company or product. Understanding the changes they’ve experienced recently might give you an idea on how to sell them your product or service.
I have discovered that sales and marketing products and services is a lot like playing baseball. In fact the baseball analogy encompasses the steps in making a sale, identifying prospective clients to closing the deal. The object is to get from Home Plate where you don’t have a client, back to home again where you have secured a new client. The number one rule in baseball is that you have to touch each and every base before you get to home plate.
Home Plate – I have identified a potential prospect that I want to connect with. To get from Home Plate to First Base you need to get the attention of your prospective client. You do this through effectively communicating your Positioning Message or your core Sales Message. That gives them enough to want to know more.
First Base – The prospect knows I exist and we have had at least one contact either by phone or in person. I now have their attention and interest.
To get from First Base to Second Base you need to give them more information, in the form of an article or report or other valuable resources that educate them about your thinking, capabilities and results. This is often the step many sales people miss altogether. The purpose of this information is to warm up your prospect so that they will be willing to meet with you and discuss their needs.
Second Base – The prospect sees me as a possible resource and has identified both a need and a want that I just might be able to fulfill.
Getting from Second Base to Third Base is the whole “selling conversation.” It’s you determining needs. It’s explaining more about what you do. It’s coming to a conceptual agreement about what you can do for your prospect.
Third Base – We have agreed in principle that working together is the right thing to do. The conceptual sale has been made.
Getting from Third Base back to Home Plate involves negotiation and wrapping up the deal. You’re not complete until you’ve put together a proposal and have gotten agreement from your prospect that you will proceed with the work.
Home Plate – (score) We have a contract or agreement and are ready to move to implementation.
This model “ play ball” can be used whether you’re marketing your products or services on a national level or a one-on-one local sales level. The point is to know which base you’re on and to do the activities appropriate to that stage in the sales and marketing process.
Here’s How to Get Tagged Out
A lot of sales people tend to skip bases. For instance, you want to go directly from home to second base. You leave out the information base. This is what a lot of cold callers try to do, or those who meet someone in a networking session. They want to get right to the appointment and to the selling conversation.
Usually a big mistake. You may have their attention, but you don’t yet have their trust. By providing more information you warm up the prospect. You prove that you’re credible and successful. If you try to hurry and get to second base too quickly you’ll get put out of the game before you know what hit you!
Once at first base people then try to get to third base to soon. This is skipping the sales process altogether and jumping to the proposal or the close. It’s happened to all of us. Before we have time too really warm up to what is being offered; the close comes on strong and we’re turned off. Again, you need to be patient; listen to your prospect’s needs, give them more information and move naturally to the proposal and close.
Finally, many try to get to home base from second base. This means they skip the proposal or close. The purpose of this stage is to confirm understanding, work out the fine details, and handle any final objections. And you need to go at a pace that works for the prospect. Sometimes the sales cycle is longer than we like, but if you try to push it too fast, you’ll be tagged out once again!
Of course, once you get to home base, you’ve arrived at a solid agreement to work with your client. Now the work begins of performing well for that client. Always try to exceed their expectations.
Now Go To Work!