I have spent years coaching and training business owners and salespeople about how essential networking is to the lifeblood of their business. I am constantly amazed at the amount of time and money they are ready to invest in the up-front piece of networking and how little they focus on the real return on their investment, the follow-up.
Many are under the illusion that simply because they met someone face-to-face over a few bad appetizers and have established (what they believe is) rapport, new business will come flowing through the door. Well, I have news for you – the networking doesn’t end when the cocktail party does! The initial meeting is only the first step in building a trust relationship, which will become a critical deciding factor as to whether or not your new prospect will do business with you and it takes more than an exchange of business cards to build one. So why is it that so many business owners and sales professionals hesitate to go the next step and follow up with their new contacts? Most likely, they do not have a system in place to do so and they do not want to come across as a ‘salesperson’. Guess what, folks? Every business owner or professional is in sales and marketing in one way or another so the quicker you get over that and develop a process for a smooth follow-up, the more money you will stop leaving on the table that could have been yours for the asking.
Did you know that it takes an average of seven touches with someone to ask for a sale before you get a “yes’? With so many interactions, if you do not have a process in place for following up with someone after an initial meeting you might as well kiss your time and money goodbye. Today’s sales superstars have mastered the art of networking and the follow-up by building a strategy into this part of their business. Today I am going to share five tips with you as to how they do it.
- Strategy – as part of their business networking initiatives, they develop a strategy around who they want to meet. Not everyone you meet will be a candidate for you to do business with no matter how much you think they might be. Therefore, having an ideal client profile and knowing where to find these kinds of people will help you to make maximum the use of your time and money up front.
- Ask for permission to follow up – when they have finished meeting someone for the first time and if the person fits their ideal client profile, they ask for permission to follow up. Surprising people by following up when you say you are going to sets you apart from your competition and starts to build a trust relationship. Statistics say that 48% of people never follow up with a prospect.
- Have a plan to follow up – when you know you have a prospect that fits your ideal client profile it makes it easier for you to create a follow-up plan that will apply to more than one person. A follow-up plan includes not only the number of touches but also the quality of your touches. Prospects need to know certain standard things, therefore you need to be providing them with information they need to make an educational buying decision and to convert into customers.
- Don’t use a “buy my stuff” approach – nothing turns prospects off more than a “buy my stuff” approach. Sales superstars know that people will not be comfortable enough to do business with them until they have answered the questions that are important to the prospect. The superstars know that it is important to make the prospect see how the product or service benefits the business and what their investment will be worth before asking for the sale. They also know that the cost of their product factors into how many touches they need to make and they factor that into the plan.
- Persistency – Did you know that:
- 25% of sales people make a second contact and stop
- 12% of sales people only make three contacts and stop
- 10% of sales people make more than three contacts
And did you know that:
- 2% of sales are made on the first contact
- 3% of sales are made on the second contact
- 5% of sales are made on the third contact
- 10% of sales are made on the fourth contact
- 80% of sales are made on the fifth to twelfth contact
Sales superstars know this and they build multiple touches into their plan to turn prospects into satisfied customers. How far do you go?
If you want to set yourself apart from the competition and become a sales superstar then make sure you have a plan to turn the art of the follow up into your greatest masterpiece yet!
To Your Success!