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Effective Follow-up Will Make Your Sales Soar

By Jody Hornor |

Whether you're selling a product or service for a living, providing customer service to existing customers, or selling yourself into a new job or promotion, it's important to remember that people are slow to warm up to a new idea, product or company.

In fact, 80% of all sales occur on the 5th or subsequent sales call after an initial sales presentation. Yet most salespeople only persist through 2 or 3. What a waste!

Think about how much money and energy you've put into developing strategies and advertising campaigns. If you drop the ball here, you've just thrown your money out the door.

It's a common misconception that inquiries aren't worth following up. But statistics say otherwise. Here are some facts that might just change your mind.

Twenty six point six percent (26.6%) of all inquiries resulted in purchases, one-third of them occur within three months of inquiring; and, 21.6% were likely to purchase in the future.

Yet, when examining the response systems of various companies, it was discovered that in 18 percent of their requests for information, none was received; 43% of the time the material was received too late to be of use, and only 28% of the inquirers were ever contacted by a salesperson.

What a waste! It's like ignoring your gold mine so you can go cold call.

So how do you make it easy on yourself to stay in touch 5-7 times after initial contact? First of all you'll need a personal computer with a good data base or contact management program. And, if you don't already know how, you need to learn how to use it effectively.

Secondly, you need to pre-plan an entire follow-up program so you are not constantly trying to figure out what to send out or say on your next call.

Remember that how and when you react to an inquiry it will likely be the first impression the prospect gets of your company. You'll create both conscious and subconscious messages about your professionalism, and the quality of your products or services. In other words, this is not an area to be neglected or taken lightly.

Fulfillment packages can be comprised of items such as product spec sheets, references or a well written follow-up letter. Or, follow-up could consist of mostly telephone contact at specific intervals. Remembering that it takes an average of five to seven contacts to close a sale, you should have a whole series of fulfillment packages or telephone sales messages ready -- each one designed to target the stage in the buying cycle the prospect is in. Each time there is contact, by phone or in person, it should be followed up with the appropriate materials.

If you have defined your position in the marketplace, and how it relates to your sales process then you've probably identified the various stages of selling which you must go through. So the next step in your follow-up program is to design a customer call back program. Don't become complacent with an attitude of "Ah, now that I've won that hard earned sale it's time to take a break." Right? Wrong!! Once you've successfully completed your first selling job, it makes financial success to keep selling to that customer over and over.

The relationship between seller and buyer seldom ends when the sale is made. In fact, the seller's economics in the selling process almost mandates that it doesn't. Statistics indicate that it costs only 1/5 as much to generate an additional sale from an existing customer as it does to generate a sale from a new prospect.

So, whether you sharpen knives or manufacture parts for automobiles, your optimum sales results will occur if you build a relationship with your customers. Try doing a bit more and developing better rapport. Keep notes on the particular interests of customers and call them when you have appropriate new merchandise or a special sale. Mail a birthday or anniversary card on the appropriate day, etc. Whatever means you use, stay in touch with every customer at least once a month.

A good follow-up system will generate more sales than ever before. It's an investment you can't afford to pass up if you want to stay ahead of your competition.

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