If you read my blogs, you know I am all about providing practical ways to help sales people make more money and work more efficiently. I mean, who wouldn’t want that? Now, if I had the silver bullet that would allow all sales people to make more money and work more efficiently, then I would be a billionaire. However, interestingly enough, it only takes a few basic principles to optimize your selling time. One of the easiest ways is to build credibility with customers by following up expediently.
Let me tell you a couple of stories and let me know if they resonate with you.
I was facilitating a training class for new sales people who were being onboarded right out of college, and in came the HR person at the beginning of the class. She asked a handful of people in the room about the status of their assignments since they were due at 5 pm the previous day. When she walked out, there was much scuttlebutt and joking about how ridiculous her request was. From their point of view, they saw little to no reason for the assignment to be completed within the timeframe given. It was just the HR person asking for an assignment. After asking questions, I came to understand that this was one of many assignments they had been given over the previous few months and they felt that, like in college, it is not a big deal if you do not turn things in on time. So I asked them, “What if that assignment was a request from a customer and you missed the deadline? Would that make any difference?” They did not truly understand what I was asking, so I added, “What if your sales differentiator
, the one that you used to build credibility, was just following up in a timely manner as you had promised? Would that be an easy thing to do?” And, the group resoundingly shouted out, “YES!”
I was working with another client implementing a sales process on which we had mutually collaborated. One of the early activities in their sales process was to build a territory plan with those companies that fit their ideal customer profile and determine a cadence on how often they should visit each customer based on need, spend, requests, etc. Most of the sales reps thought this was an arduous task and did not see why they should waste their time doing this since, in the past, they visited whom they wanted, when they wanted. Even before some of them had completed the initial task, I was hearing about customers that were leaving to go to the competitor. When I dug a bit deeper, it was clear to all of us that the customers had been happy with the products my client sold them; however, the competition was visiting them, and following up, on a more frequent basis. Not following up with these customers not only lost them credibility, but also lost them customers and future revenue.
So I ask again, why not maximize your time
and do what you say and say what you do? It is an easy way to build credibility – and keep your customers happy.
Janice Mars, principal and founder of SalesLatitude, is a senior business and sales executive with more than 30 years of experience helping companies build successful sales teams. She has parlayed that experience to help her clients to improve their sales processes, accurately forecast revenues, ensure focus on winnable opportunities, and attain consistent results.
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Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.