You just finished what you think was the best sales pitch of your career. You are high on life and expecting your prospect to come through with a contract in days, maybe even hours. In this case, is follow-up even necessary? And if so, what is the best way to touch base?
To find out, we posed a series of questions to three well-respected sales professionals: Christine Clifford, author of Let’s Close A Deal: Turn Contacts Into Paying Customers For Your Company, Product, Service or Cause; and Raul Guerra and Scott Usvolk, co-founders of sales consultancy The Allegory Group.
Here’s what we found out:
#1. How important is following up after a sales pitch?
Raul Guerra and Scott Usvolk: Following up with a prospect is as important as the pitch itself. Sales pitches are designed to leave a memorable impression with a client, to touch both heart and mind and then offer a call to action. The follow-up is another opportunity to stand out from your competition. Follow-ups should be timely and thorough.
Christine Clifford: Following up is the most important step in the sales process because it’s the only thing that can produce results. If you don’t follow-up and ask for their business, you simply won’t get the sale.
#2: How soon should a salesperson follow-up? The same day? A week later?
Guerra and Usvolk: The salesperson should set expectations with the prospect as to the timeliness of follow-up actions. Even if the agreed response is several days or longer, it is a good habit to immediately send a hand-written thank you card to the prospect.
Clifford: Follow up first with a phone call. The “ask” requires that you have developed a sense of trust with your prospect. By making the call, you are showing that you care, you’re interested in their business and you sincerely want to continue to develop a relationship with this person. Phone calls are personals; emails are not, and it is important to develop the trust factor with your prospect.
#3: What if you don’t hear back? How long should you wait to follow-up again?
Guerra and Usvolk: At the end of the pitch meeting, you should ask about the timeline for next contact. If your prospect is vague, it is likely that your pitch may not have resonated with them.
Clifford: If a week goes by and the prospect doesn’t return your call, call again and follow-up with an email. Never take a lack of follow-through from your prospect as a sign that they don’t want to do business with you. They may be busy, traveling, gathering more information or need more time. Follow-up until you hear a final decision.
#4: What are a few do’s and don’ts for following up after a sales pitch?
Guerra and Usvolk: Do make sure your follow-up materials are flawless and complete, keep it professional and concise, offer to have a phone call to discuss, and request another meeting.
Don’t use jargon or industry acronyms that the prospect may not understand, send volumes of material or send follow-up emails that look like a text message to a friend.
Clifford: Do know when to quit, be flexible, have enough information, have the ability to think on your feet, prepare and ask people for help.
Don’t put down your competition, be judgmental or promise something you can’t deliver.