“Let me get back to you” ….the ballad of lost prospects and wasted time.
How many times, do you hear the phrase? “thanks for the information, let me get back to you”
Directly from a prospect, or as the epitaph on the tombstone of a prospect’s contact report. “thanks for the information, I’ll get back to you” spells the almost inevitable end to any potential relationship. There is no one way to sell things, just like the skinless cat, but neither are there unlimited hours in the day.
In order to make efficient use of your time. To avoid unnecessary call backs and bloated sales pipelines you must adopt an honest and pragmatic approach to your conversations. There is plenty of online information talking about the requirement for an equitable relationship to be fostered between a prospect and a salesperson. That natural feeling of inferiority, of which new sales people can be especially prone, is often paralysing.
As with all good theory, it is the ability to put theory into practice where a disconnect often occurs. In military language the difference between plan, tactics and execution. Learning eye contact, body language and adopting the ability to say no early in the sales process can help to create this equality, but a process or Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) is essential. Instructions and procedures we can rely on in any pressured situation. Pilots use SOP’s for almost every action, and likely could not operate without them.
If you want to read of some extreme SOP’s try Jesse Itzlers Book “Living with a SEAL” about 31 days living with a US Navy Seal. US Navy Seals SOP’s result in life or death, not deal or no deal, so they are extremely important.One way (SOP) to avoid the ballad of lost prospects and wasted time is Commitment and Control .This theory translates into a tactic of always getting commitment, and always staying in control.
These phrases can sound like annoying ‘sales training speak’, but on this occasion I promise you that this is very much WYSIWYG (see what I did there?)
How many times do you get asked to “send a brochure, then I’ll get back to you”? and because what the customer wants, the customer gets, you send one, correct? No!!
If you blindly follow the customers request then you will likely spend £3-5 of your marketing spend giving a customer what they could easily read on your website. You add no value to the process. You understand nothing of the customers requirements and have no understanding of any possible opportunities for you. Most likely you will be setting yourself up for several games of telephone tag and beat the gatekeeper. All of which transpire to waste everyone’s time. You have no commitment and are definitely not in control. You need a different Standard Operating Procedure.
If you want to keep control and get commitment then you must be more pragmatic, open and engage clearly and honestly with the customer. Customers often want to dominate you and simply launch in with a forceful brochure request. In this case before you can take control and move to get some mutually agreed commitment you may need a small holding SOP. I prefer to use an objection handling structure like CLAPS (Calm down, Listen, Agree, Pause and Solve). So the conversation goes like so:
Customer: Can you send me a brochure and I’ll get back to you ?
Sales: [calm breath, appreciative pause] yes of course I can do that, and if you can provide me some appropriate contact details in a moment that would be great , however so I can understand if and how we may be able to help you, can you please help me understand ideally what you are looking for?
You have now done a couple of things. You have regained control of the situation, and immediately asked for some commitment (getting contact details).
Once into this conversation you can now use your qualification skills. Understand their needs. Build desire and identifying areas of high perceived value. Once completed you can discuss and agree together the next step. The next step should NEVER mean letting the customer call you back when they are ready.
Commitment can take many forms. Commit to having another call at an agreed time, and with a specific topic. Commit to a meeting to understand needs. Ultimately a commitment to sign the agreement, make the payment and become a customer. It does not matter what the agreed commitment is, it matters that it mutually moves the sales process forward, and that all parties are committed.
It may be that your commitment is not to call the customer again. Following the qualification process you now understand that the likelihood that you can both benefit from a transaction is very slim. You do not want to invest your time. Waste that of the customer. Becoming engaged in ultimately meaningless follow up calls, or e mails. This is still a commitment, and you remain in control because you have now positively decided to look elsewhere for your next customer.
What Commitment and Control helps you to achieve is a very efficient and effective way of managing time. Ensures positive qualification. Confirms that your relationship with the customer is based on mutually agreed steps. This avoids wasted calls and e mails to prospects who have no interest in your product. Speeds up the sales process and improves conversion rates.
Commitment and Control can also be extremely effective internally. It helps to make you more efficient, more effective and ultimately reach any conclusion quickly.
Don’t join in with the ballad of lost prospects and wasted time, sing commitment and control instead for a far happier tune!
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