Common Mistakes of Follow Through
Congratulations. The face-to-face meeting went great. You firmly believe that the prospect is now a client. It’s Miller Time . . . or is it?
Being Fooled By “Sure Things”
Thinking positively is admirable. But banking on soft commitments or being fooled by “sure things” is a dangerous mistake. Don’t spend your commission until the check clears the bank.
There are no sure things. Seasoned sales professionals get together at annual conventions and take turns outdoing one another by telling stories about the sure things that weren’t so sure after all. At the time the business was lost I am sure they weren’t laughing, but over time these catastrophes soon become coveted war stories. It seems like the more money you end up losing, the more interesting the story becomes. Yuk. Yuk. Yuk.
My advice to you is that when you catch yourself counting a chicken or two before it hatches . . . DON’T. Instead, get a cup of black coffee, put a brand new light bulb in your desk lamp, and begin dotting each and every one of your i’s over and over again. Don’t let up until the order is chiseled in a stone tablet which has been Fed Ex’d to your office, put in a Number 10 hotel size mayonnaise jar, and placed in a high-tech burglar and competitor proof vault on Funk and Wagnall’s front porch.
Corollary: Failing To Follow Through
One key to closing a higher percentage of sales than your associates or competitors is follow through. Everyone says they know this . . . very few people to do it.
Talk is cheap, so . . . after all is said and done, more is said than done.
If you want to distance yourself from the competition, simply do what you tell prospects you are going to do.
- Show up or call if you say you will — on time;
- Deliver what you said you’d deliver.
- Provide the information requested.
That’s it. The Big Three. Do each sooner than promised.
Everyone is quick with a promise today. Most of us have good intentions. But, prospects’ experience tells them that few people can really be counted on to follow through consistently. Become the exception.
Riding The Trojan Techno-Horse
Consumers and business buyers today have a myriad of eager-to-please suppliers for just about everything. Therefore, you need to eliminate anything and everything that might get in the way of a working relationship. The good news is that most of your competition has gone to great lengths over the past few years to build a major league obstacle to new customers . . . and its your Trojan Horse to ride into your competitor’s stable of customers. It’s called . . . the electronic voice mail system.
Simply make certain that calling your company and getting to the right person is not a Lewis and Clark exploration of techno-garble. Here’s what I mean.
Voice Mail System Greeting Of Prospect
“Thanks for calling us rather than the other 10,000 people you could have called to get the same level of stress. If you would like to raise your blood pressure a few notches and check your memory quotient while taxing your patience, then indicate your interest by punching the #1 key on your telephone and standing by for some more information . . .”
“If you know the middle name of the brother-in-law of the person you would like to finally leave a message for — due to the fact that nobody in this company answers their own phone, no way, no how, no matter what you thought to the contrary — punch #2 and get ready for the telephone ride of your life. If you need CPR, stay on the line and a live operator will assist you as soon as we hire one.”
The above example of today’s phone “service” is an invitation to your success. Simply make working with you and your company easy. Take the burden off the shoulders of your customers as quickly and painlessly as possible. Try calling your phone mail system to see how tough it is to get through. (A friend of mine in the financial services industry recently tried this and on the third option menu heard such non-financial options as “concierge” and “room service.” He discovered the phone system they had for two years was designed for resort hotels.)
I’m not suggesting you necessarily relegate your voice mail system to the junk heap, but be sure you streamline it. Leave your customers feeling happy they called . . . happy they had the good fortune of speaking with you . . . and looking forward to doing business with an organization that makes communication with decision- makers easy.
Losing Customer Focus
Cutting through the noise and clutter in today’s marketplace while remaining focused is a skill. The customer . . . a customer . . . your customer is the person who delivers the cash necessary to keep your business in business. Therefore, it should come as no surprise when I tell you to never stop focusing on the most important person in your business . . . your customer (existing and prospective).
This may sound absurdly simple to do, but I assure you it isn’t. You have so many things competing for your attention that it’s easy to have your focus stray from the prospect you have psychologically moved into your trophy case. The staff is asking you to decide the color of the new rug, quantity of paper towels to order, whether to buy the color printer or the black and white model, negotiate the lease of the new phone mail system, proof read the 148-page letter proposal you wrote before reading Chapter 10.
I know what you are faced with. Believe me, I know. But, let me make the point. Without customers, you don’t have one more blessed thing to worry about. Think customers first. Think customers second. Think customers third. If you still have time, call a meeting to talk about your customers. Then, in the few moments remaining at the end of the day, you can flip a coin to decide what color the new rug should be.
Customer focus is a constant, and you’ll find lots of suggestions for maintaining this vital orientation for yourself and your firm throughout this book.