We all want our companies to grow, prosper, and create a certain level of security and freedom in our personal lives. When we first began in business, we seemed pretty happy to focus on company growth and maximizing the most of each opportunity. Once we’ve been in business for five, 10 or even 20 years, sometimes the sense of urgency starts to wane.
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Why do you think we end up settling for mediocrity, when peak performance also is a choice? Many factors enter into this equation, but it’s the lack of a proven, organized process that hugely contributes to problems we see with contractors in all different markets.
Recently I recorded a technician training video for my monthly clients titled, “The Importance of a Sales Process.” The content was delivered to the frontline technicians with the goal of helping them understand why it’s critical to embrace process in every facet of the business, including (but not limited to) the sales process. This month, I’m not writing about the entire sales process. However, I want to encourage you to take an objective look at one specific aspect.
There’s a very good chance that your follow-up system, or lack thereof, is costing you several thousands of dollars per year. In fact, in many companies, this number is well into the six-figure range! This is the price of lost sales that fell through the cracks because nobody ever followed up with these customers. Think about this for a minute, as well as what you need to do in order to retrieve this money.
What if I told you I had $100,000 in cash waiting for you, but you had to take a little bit of action to claim it? You would certainly want to know what exact action had to be taken in order to get the money, right? Of course, you would want to be assured this wasn’t a Woody Harrelson and Demi Moore movie script (think “Indecent Proposal”), where bribery and scandal were involved in the process.
No, no, no, I promise you, nothing shady must be done in order to collect your money. You just need to make a few phone calls every single week and sometimes every single day. You’ll need a simple script to follow. You’ll need to have good energy in your voice. You’ll need to be completely focused on the wants, needs and desires of your customer. You’ll need to know the specific benefits of your products and services — and be able to effectively communicate them.
Once you have these components in place, you simply need to take consistent action. We have Blue Collar Success Group clients who have a dedicated person in the office making follow-up calls for work that was quoted but failed to be sold. Other clients of ours have their technicians do the follow-up calls because the technician has already built up some trust and credibility, has a rapport with the customer and knows his situation.
I’ve observed both of these strategies working well. I’ve also seen hybrids of the two implemented successfully. Either way is probably going to be an improvement over what you’re currently doing. We work way too hard to generate a phone call, get a truck to a home, spend time uncovering a situation, all while building trust with a customer, just to walk away and forget about him forever when he doesn’t immediately choose to do business with us.
To help with your follow-up system, we must examine some of the reasons people didn’t invest with you in the first place and come up with solutions to combat these objections. Some reasons are beyond our control, but many can be traced to one or more of these factors:
1.Customer didn’t completely understand the situation, offer or options.If someone is confused, he is much less likely to say “yes” to what you are presenting. A follow-up call is a great way to remind your customer of what’s going on in his home, restate his options and answer any questions that might have arisen after the technician left.
2. Price was much higher than expected.If your customer was completely caught off guard, he might not have felt comfortable making the decision right away. He might need to talk it over with another decision-maker or review his financial status. Regardless, a follow-up call will allow a little time to think about the situation. You can take the opportunity to re-examine financing options.
3. Not enough understanding of specific product benefits and characteristics.Without proper explanation, the average customer isn’t aware of the variety of products that we offer, much less their specific features. During your follow-up calls, you can reinforce how the products you are suggesting will enhance your customers lives, using simple statements of benefits and uniqueness.
For example, one of the Nest Thermostat’s slogans is, “Saving energy is a beautiful thing.” It states the biggest benefit (energy savings), as well as what makes the product unique (it’s aesthetically pleasing design). Think about what makes your product unique and what it can do to enhance your customer’s lifestyle.
4. Not enough positive differentiation between you and your competitors.What makes you better than the competition? If you aren’t sure, then your customers aren’t either. Make sure you are focused on your company’s strengths during your follow-up call. You can mention things such as warranties and guarantees so there is no question your company is the best option.
5. Lack of trust or rapport.If your technician didn’t build enough rapport with the client, a follow-up call is a good way to help your customer feel comfortable with your company.
6. Lack of urgency.With many people, if it doesn’t need to be done “right away,” whatever it is gets put off until it becomes an emergency. A follow-up call can be used to restate the importance of preventative maintenance and taking care of a problem before it turns into an emergency situation.
I’m not implying your follow-up system needs to be a pushy “phone sales” division of your company. The point is simply to get back in touch with customers to learn what their thoughts are about your proposal, as well as understanding where there could be a breakdown in your system.
A few simple phone calls per week and you can be generating several thousand more in sales without spending an extra dime. You’ve already done the bulk of the work with these customers, now just develop a system to follow up with them. Regardless of how long you’ve been in business, get back into the habit of maximizing every opportunity, crush mediocrity and move toward the place of personal freedom and stability that you deserve.