It’s February. You’ve done a whole lot of sales strategy and planning (or at least thought about it!) You know where you’re headed and have a plan to get there.
What tactics do you have planned? These are the actions that are going to work together to create sales breakthrough for your business this year. One excellent thing to do is to check through those outstanding proposals from the last few months. With most of your customers back at work – now is a great time to take another look at any of your sales proposals that still don’t have a decision.
Some of your proposals from last quarter will have been stalled by the Christmas rush. Perhaps your customers ran out of budget, ran out of time, couldn’t talk to the main decision-maker, or had other more urgent priorities.
To help you prioritise your February follow-up activities, here is a list of seven customers you’re likely to meet along the journey to reaching your sales goals:
Customer One – Ready and willing to reach a decision
When you follow up, some customers will be in the right head-space to decide and your sale will naturally result from all those online and offline conversations. Yes!
How will you recognise this customer? Don’t worry – they’ll recognise you. They will reply to emails and calls, because they have already started feeling committed to working with you. You’ll know who they are because this type of sale is so effortless – the customer is happy, you know you’ve got a great solution, everything is progressing smoothly.
These sorts of customers usually realise the extent of their need. They may have an urgent problem, perhaps even some legislation compelling them to purchase what you offer. Make sure your documentation is in order so that you’re ready for their quick decisions.
When you get that ‘Yes’, have a clear plan for what comes next, how long everything will take. This will help keep the momentum going even if you face some initial resourcing delays.
Customer Two – Unsure about what to do
Some of your customers will still be unable to reach a decision. It’s always worth probing for the reason behind the reason. Do they have too many options? Will they need help differentiating between competing options? Perhaps the number of options is overwhelming for them? Do they feel out of their depth, having to make decisions in an area which they may not fully understand?
This one could take some time. Continue to follow up. Focus your main efforts on potential customers with a great level of need for your business solutions.
Customer Three – Low budget or No budget
What about their budget situation? Are they scraping the bottom of the budget barrel and don’t want to admit that to you? If this is the case, make sure you know when their next financial year starts. Hopefully it will be all go again for 01 April – which is only eight weeks away.
Is your customer interested in working with you now, but constrained by early new year budgets? If you offer a payment plan, you may still be able to get started this side of the new financial year.
If they’re not able to make an official decision until 01 April, follow them up at an appropriate level. You want to be on the right side of the pest-professional continuum. That means striking a balance so that you’re following up just the right amount. Contact them too much and they might decide they never want to deal with you, even when their budget does become available. Too little contact, and they might just forget how great you’ll be to work with.
An excellent way to get a good balance for your follow-up is to ensure that your marketing is working for you. Know where your customers are, then utilise those channels to reach them. Touchpoints from your marketing, both online and offline, can be part of your follow up campaign. How often are you updating your business Facebook page? If your customers are more often found on LinkedIn, what timely, helpful articles can you post? If you’re not connected to your customers via your social media, you might like to send them through details/invitations.
Customer Four – Not the final decision-maker
This can be a curly one. Most SMEs or their sales people have been tripped up by this at some stage. The challenging situation when you’re dealing with someone who is not the final decision-maker is that often they are so polite and engaged in the sales process, that you mistake their good manners for authority to purchase.
They probably also enjoy dealing with you. Perhaps it simply doesn’t occur to them that you’re ultimately looking for a decision.
So, what can you do? You need to discover as soon as you can whether you’re talking to the right person. Your time management is critical to help the sale to progress. Remember too that this helpful person is on your side, so you don’t want to offend them.
This phrase is a great way of discovering the people within the company that you need to be dialoguing with – ‘So, apart from yourself, who else should I be talking to about the decision for xxx?’
Customer Five – No hurry
Have you ever met a customer who’s in no hurry to purchase? This type of customer can be very similar to Customer Four who is not the final decision-maker.
A customer in no hurry could enjoy free coffees with you for a long time before they admit that they just can’t see the urgency of their problem and probably won’t be purchasing this year, if at all. You might have to spot this for them.
They may never purchase. If you can’t see an urgent reason why you should continue following up, and no real progression in the sale, it’s time to simply move them on to your email newsletter follow up.
Customer Six – Working with the competition
If they are working with your competition, make sure you stay in the communication loop with them. The fact that they’ve made a purchasing decision is a positive. It’s just unfortunate that it’s not with your company! You know they are your ideal target market. Keep in touch with your company newsletter. Perhaps take them out for coffee in a few months, to check how everything is going for them.
Your job at this point is to establish your company as their Plan B. No matter how happy they say they are, there will be some little imperfection that they could be struggling with. Listen to them, and they’ll soon tell you about it. Make sure you find out more information about the terms of their agreement. They may be working with another supplier as part of a trial period. If you stay in touch, you’ll get to know what’s really happening, and be there if they decide to go out to market again.
Customer Seven – Just simply not interested
Are you having great conversations that don’t really seem to go anywhere? This customer is probably a non-customer. They are simply not interested. It’s most likely that they are not in the market for your products/services. They could be a great friend, or a top member of your indoor netball team, but they’re most definitely not your customer.
So – seven types of customer you’ll likely encounter when you’re following up your sales in February and throughout the year.
Your job is to prioritise your selling time so that you’re spending most of your productive time with customers who are ready and willing to purchase. Get your online digital marketing to do the bulk of follow up where you possibly can. Remember to focus on the low-lying fruit – those customers who have an urgent, felt need and the budget the do something about it – and your sales will follow.