1. Never touch base.
Your credibility is a key part of your sales success. That credibility comes from your expertise, your authority and your availability. You must avoid everything that detracts from your credibility. When you touch base you are detracting from your credibility.
Expertise means you have knowledge that’s useful to your customers and prospects. In today’s business environment, many customers don’t have the time to research all aspects of their business challenges and are looking to your expertise to access quick answers. People who are making themselves more useful to customers by expanding their knowledge don’t have time to touch base.
Your authority is related to your expertise. It comes from how you apply your expertise. It’s your experience in making recommendations that work and give you the authority to make additional recommendations. Just imagine if someone told you this was the first recommendation they made. You would not have much confidence in that recommendation unless you trusted their expertise and authority. You add to your authority by working to deliver successful solutions. Touching base is not a successful solution.
Your availability has two components. It’s how easy a customer can access you when he needs to. The flip side is how often you make yourself useful to a customer or prospect. You enhance credibility when a customer needs you and you’re available. You detract from credibility when you show up via phone or face-to-face with nothing more to offer than your greetings and smiling face.
What can you do instead of showing up to touch base? You call or meet with a prospect to learn something. You could say, “Mr. Customer, I want to follow up on the X project. Can you tell me what are the latest results.” Or, “Mr. Customer, I want to discuss X with you so I can improve that process going forward.” From this point forward, I do hope you banish touching base from your selling vocabulary.
2. Follow up on all proposals the right way.
Ghosting is a real problem in sales. You work hard to deliver a proposal and then in too many cases the prospect is unreachable after you deliver the proposal. That’s ghosting. How can you avoid ghosting? Once you submit the proposal, set a time and date to follow up. Preface the question with, “I’m sure you’re going to have questions. I want to be sure I’ve addressed your concerns in the proposal. Let’s set a time to discuss this. When should I call you for a brief conversation?” You ask for when you should call the customer and have him tell you the date and time. Your prospect is more likely to take the call when he sets the time with you and knows it’s going to be brief.
Here’s what you can do if you haven’t set a follow up time. Call back after a few days after you submit. Ask if you’ve addressed (the reason you had to write the proposal.) The reason is the primary concern they expressed before you wrote the proposal. Then ask what should be the next steps. Your voicemail can be those specific statements. Listen carefully when you actually do speak with your prospect. You want to hear whether you’re on track for getting the business or whether you are off track and have an opportunity to get back on track.
3. Use other people effectively when you sell.
Some salespeople think that when someone offers to put in a good word for you that is the equivalent of a slam dunk for a sale. Unfortunately, it’s not. You ideally don’t want someone else doing your selling for you. You should take advantage of the opportunity when someone offers to put in a good word for you. Just don’t leave it to chance or their idea of what a good word is.
Ask the person who offers what they plan to say. You might hear something that does nothing to help move the sales process forward. Instead, see if they can obtain useful sales information for you. You should have learned who the key decision makers are and how they are going to decide to buy. If not, you can ask the one who offered good words if he can find out that information or other useful sales information for you.
You might have heard that some rules are made to be broken. These selling rules would not be those rules.