phone -follow-up-rachel-french-business coachMy parents instilled in me at a very young age that “no means no” and “because I said so” was all the justification they needed to deny me my childish wishes. If I wanted a cookie, or to go out and play, or stay up late watching a scary movie, I asked ONCE. Maybe twice on a foolishly courageous day. But I knew that when my parents said “no,” they meant it. And I knew that asking again was at least nagging and at most grounds for being sent to my room.

You may have been raised by parents of a similar generation and mindset. I would say these parents did an excellent job teaching us to respect authority, follow rules, and listen to our elders.

But they totally messed up our attitude when it comes to selling our products and services.

Various studies done over the past decade or so continue to confirm the frightening statistics that explain why you’re having such a hard time getting new customers. The fact is, most of us ask for the business just ONCE, and when we are told “no,” we move on…often apologetically.

About half of us accept that first “no” or “not now” as the final answer.

A handful of us stick it out for a follow-up or two, and only brave few ask for the business again after that. But a huge majority of sales deals are completed AFTER 5 TOUCHES.

That means the brave and persistent minority of folks are scooping up MOST of the business out there!

Why isn’t it you?

Because you’re afraid you’re nagging. And it’s time to get over it.

You’re not asking your parents for a second helping of dessert, after all. You’re asking a prospective customer if he or she is willing to invest in a solution to their problem. You’re asking if you can be allowed to give them what they need.

When greeted by a “no” or “not yet” or “not right now,” tell the person you would love to follow up with them in a certain number of days, weeks, or months, and ask permission to do so. You’ll probably find that people say “yes” to that far more often than they say “no.” Then make sure you DO follow up. And ask for the business again. Don’t give up until they’ve turned you down at least 5 times. Sales is a numbers game, so play the numbers!

ONE BIG REASON YOU MAY BE MISSING OUT ON SALES

If we’re honest, a lot of us miss out on the opportunity to follow-up with prospects because we don’t have a good system to keep track of who we’ve talked to and when we should contact them again.

Are you having a hard time keeping track of all your prospects? You NEED a proper CRM-Customer Relationship Management system. 

There are countless options to choose from for a fee, but if you’re just getting your feet wet, I would recommend you try Insightly. It’s free, it’s very user-friendly and intuitive, and it keeps prospect and client information–including your follow up tasks–neat and tidy. Insightly is my CRM of choice, but I’ve heard good things about Zoho and Agile, two other CRMs that offer 2 or 3 users for free, and Nimble which is only $15 a month. Unless you’re a multi-user operation, SalesForce is going to be more than you need, but you’re certainly welcome to check it out as well. And systems like InfusionSoft are really robust and integrated, and when you can budget $250+/month, definitely look into them.

You know what’s NOT an acceptable CRM? Using just your database of contacts inside your email delivery system (my choice is Constant Contact). Or your SendOut Cards account (you SHOULD totally have this…great for sending follow-up touches through snail mail, but NOT a CRM). Or keeping everyone on a spreadsheet. Or written in your calendar. Or on sticky notes. Or in your head. Get the message?

(Note: I do NOT get paid if you click on any of those links and buy. They’re just there to make your research a little easier.)

SO…get your contact info in order, or hire an assistant to get it in order for you, start using a CRM, and then start methodically following up with your prospects–AND with your customers. Repeat business from previous happy customers feels just as good as new business, and often requires fewer touches!

Remember: it’s not nagging! If you’re confident in your product or service, and you know you’re worth what you charge, then you can ask for the business multiple times and know that when they finally say “yes,” it will be good for you AND for them.

photo credit: via photopin (license)

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