5 Easy tips for more effective sales follow-up
For salespeople in the electrical wholesale space, much of the quotes you provide are turned around quickly. A customer sends you a request, you respond with pricing and availability, and you get the order (or not). For larger-scale project business, the sales process often becomes a bit more complex. The list of requested materials is much longer, more intricate, and often requires some substantial back-and-forth communication to iron out required specifications and project details. With a few effective sales follow-up tactics, your chances of winning these large project bids can increase – along with your commissions.
Sales follow-up is what you do after your initial pitch to encourage the prospective customer to take action. Sales follow-ups can be conducted in a number of ways — the most common methods are telephone and email. Mastering sales follow-up is a critical skill for electrical sales reps. Here are 5 techniques to help you stay in front of your customer and get more large orders.
- Mix it Up – So you’ve sent two or three follow-up emails to your prospect and heard nothing back. It may be time to pick up the phone. Alternatively, if you keep calling and they’re always too busy to speak to you, you might have better luck by sending an email instead. If you’re not sure what someone prefers, try different follow-up methods. People prefer different methods of communication, and what gets one person’s attention will go ignored by another. On the other hand, if someone specifies a particular method of communication, respect that. You won’t endear yourself to a prospect if you keep calling them after they’ve said they like to do all business by email.
- Space it Out – Purchasing decisions for large project bids often move slowly. Quite often, the bigger and/or more complex the quote is, the longer it will take for a P.O. to be sent. Therefore, it’s tough to expect prospects to make a decision instantly, or even overnight. There’s no exact formula for correctly spacing your follow-ups. In most circumstances, every day will be far too often, and once a month is not often enough. In many situations, following-up once per week is appropriate. If you’ve worked with a customer in the past, use this previous experience to fine tune your follow-up cadence with them.
- Bring Value! – You’re a Salesperson and your goal is to get the order. But your prospect doesn’t want to be pressured or on the receiving end of an aggressive sales pitch. By providing some value to the customer with each follow-up, you’ll increase their engagement and increase your chances of winning the order. What is meant by “value”? Here are a few ideas:
- Talk Business: Always ask how their business is going. Ask probing questions about the project that you’re working on with them and be helpful. Remember what you talked about previously. Being of service throughout the quote & order process helps show you care about their success and build a solid professional connection.
- Take Notes: Remind yourself about the prospect’s pain points and the problems they are trying to solve — Always center the conversation on these pain points. Remember, you’re not just selling things like lighting, switch gear, and wire. You’re selling a solution to a problem.
- Be Informative: Include a link to a relevant article, blog post, or video in your follow-up email — The content must relate strongly to your prospect and the problems they’ve told you they are facing. Things like sharing commodity prices and/or articles pertaining to the electrical industry or a vertical market they serve can be helpful. By providing them with some useful information, you prove that you are interested in a mutually beneficial relationship as opposed to a quick sale.
- Have a Good Subject Line – If you’re following-up by email, the subject line can make or break the success of your follow-up. A generic subject line like “Just checking in” or “follow up” won’t cut it. These are easy to ignore or send straight to the trash folder. Instead, you’ll need to craft something enticing that will make them want to know what you have to say. Another good practice is personalizing your subject line by using the recipient’s name. Studies show that doing this increases the chances of your email being opened by 30%!
- Keep it Brief – You and your customer are both busy people. Cut to the chase and keep follow-up activities brief and to the point. An email follow-up should be no more than about six lines in total length. And a follow-up telephone call should generally last no longer than around ten minutes. Doesn’t sound very long? That’s because it isn’t. You have only a short timeframe to grab your prospect’s attention and make them want to take action, so be direct.
It’s natural for electrical salespeople to be less than excited about the follow-up stage of the sales process. No one wants to annoy the prospect or be seen as a spammer. However, to increase your chances of getting the order, you must follow up! Failing to follow up during an extended sales cycle is one of the quickest ways to lose up to 80% of potential sales. A way to overcome the fear of following up is to change the way you think about following-up. You’re not following up with the prospect to spam, you’re being persistent because you have a solution that can help them.
Do you have a tried-and-true follow-up technique? Share it in the comments below.