This is a sad story. Sad but true. It was a real conversation, ostensibly a sales conversation. This sales conversation, and many others just like it, are happening all over the world. I recount this sad sales conversation here in hope that we may all learn from it:Sales Representative: “I just called to see how things are going.”
Wendy: “Things are going fine. Why are you calling?”
Sales Representative: “I just called to see how things are.”
Wendy: “Things are fine.”
Sales Representative: “OK. Well I’m here if you need me.”
Wendy: “Why should I need you?”
As it turns out, the company this young man represented was supposed to be scheduling a demo of a product for my staff and for me. My wonderful assistant, Erin, usually takes care of scheduling for these types of events. When the rep called, I was working on a program that had an approaching deadline. This company’s demo was the last thing on my mind. I didn’t make the connection and I had absolutely no idea why this rep was calling me. Clearly, neither did he.
“I just called to see how things are going” has to be the lamest follow-up question of all time. Although, it is running neck and neck with, “I just called to follow-up.” Neither question elicits any information, neither moves the sales process forward and both are frequently annoying to your prospect who has absolutely no idea why you have called.
Now in all fairness, this rep was not the original contact and perhaps the original contact did not give him all of the background. In that case, he should have first asked some questions: “What is the purpose/goal of my call?” “What is the history here?” “Where are we with this prospect?” “What is the next step for this prospect?” Any of these would have sufficed. Then this representative would have had a focus and a goal for his call.
The rule is: Never make a call to your prospect without having a goal in mind. When you hang up the telephone, what do you want to have accomplished? Do you want to gather information? Do you want the prospect to commit to some action? Do you want agreement on the next step in your sales process? Once you have your goal in mind you can then figure out the appropriate approach. (Hint: “I just called to see how things are going” is not it.)
Here’s an approach that you can use to set up your follow up calls. I call it the “Instant Recap/Guilt Technique.” It goes like this:
“Hello (prospect’s name goes here.) This is (your name) from (your company.) We spoke on (date goes here) and discussed (fill in whatever you discussed.)”
“You asked me to call you (or ‘We agreed that I’d call’) to discuss (fill in the blank with your next step.)”
The “Instant Recap” brings your prospect back to your last conversation. Your prospect may or may not remember that conversation and when you are prospecting, you don’t want to count on your prospect’s memory. Help your prospect out by recapping your last conversation.
The “Guilt Technique” then explains why you are calling. There had been a previous conversation, outlined in the “Instant Recap” and now you are doing what you had promised to do, call your prospect.
This “Instant Recap/Guilt Technique” works very nicely to set you up to have your next conversation with a prospect. If you are following up with a prospect who was originally contacted by someone else you can adapt the “Instant Recap/Guilt Technique” as follows:
“Hello (prospect’s name goes here.) This is (your name) from (your company.) You spoke with my colleague, (colleague’s name goes here) on (date goes here) and discussed (fill in whatever was discussed.)”
“You asked us to call you to discuss (fill in the blank with your next step.)”
This is how the unfortunate sales rep reference above should have proceeded. Unfortunately for all, he did not.
Let’s have no more sad stories of sales reps calling to “see how things are going.” Instead, let’s have productive, focused conversations with prospects that move the sales process forward. “I am visualizing you all surrounded by cash.”
Wendy Weiss, “The Queen of Cold Calling,” is a sales trainer, author and sales coach. Her recently released program, The Miracle Appointment-Setting Script, and/or her book, Cold Calling for Women, can be ordered by visiting http://queenofcoldcalling.com. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Get Wendy’s free Special Report, How to Write an Effective Cold Calling Script, at http://www.queenofcoldcalling.com
© 2007 Wendy Weiss
[tags]Cold calling, prospecting, cold calling tips, prospecting tips, Wendy Weiss, The Queen of Cold Calling, www.wendyweiss.com[/tags]