It took me over three years to learn why I had been successful and also why I had been failing so bad in sales. It all boiled down to one thing: My ability and determination to Follow-up with prospects and with new customers and associates after their initial introduction to my product line!
Why so long to do a "duh" you might ask? Very simple! My trainers and mentors did not know to Follow-up either! This is part of the reason that salesmen have a very high failure rate. People do not understand marketing and thus the strategic importance of following up on prospects.
Read this statistic about the importance of following up from an association of professional salesmen. Their statistics show that the most sales by far are made from the 5th through the 12th contact! Here is the data they have compiled about on which contact sales are made:
2% of sales are made on the 1st contact
3% of sales are made on the 2nd contact
5% of sales are made on the 3rd contact
10% of sales are made on the 4th contact
80% of sales are made on the 5th-12th contact
Realizing that, don't you think it would be good to go out and learn how to be a good salesman? Your mentors are providing that for you right now so listen up. (They are aren't they? If not, better find a good mentor as going it on your own in any sales business is suicide!) Like in any education process, it is good to go out and READ more about what successful people do in your chosen field to make the success they have. People like Tom Hopkins, Zig Ziegler, Jim Rohn, A. L. Williams and others are all expert salesmen who are now in the training mode of helping others understand the techniques that got them where they are today.
So, back to the statistics. 80% of all sales are made from the 5th through the 12th contact! Wow! Are you beginning to see why your closing rate is so low?
Gil Cargill, a former VP Sales from IBM who now is a sales management consultant provided the following statistics from the Sales & Marketing Management Institute that are interesting relative to how all buyers identify and pursue buying plans:
(1) 87% of all leads are never pursued
(2) 45% - 63% of the all leads eventually buy the product or service from someone
(3) 48% of all sales leads that are pursued are dropped after the first call/meeting
(4) 80% of all sales close after the fifth contact/meeting (see above)
(5) 73% of sales people do not have a growth plan for their top five accounts
His main point was that effective business development methods ensure we are "in front of the customer" when he/she make the sales decision. Tenacity and planning are more important than eloquence!
Here is another example of why repeated exposure is important. How many times a day do you see or hear about Coca-Cola or McDonalds or Pepsi? I know there is a statistic somewhere on this but I'm betting it's in the dozens or higher per merchandiser. You hear Coke ads, you see them on billboards, you see them in magazines, on TV, on radio, and on and on.
Why? You already know you like Coke. You already know where to buy it. You already know the cost or nearly so. Why does Coke pay millions per month in advertising costs? One reason and one reason only: To keep Coke on your mind as often as possible so you will be more likely to crave it and therefore buy it. They want you to think of Coke as often as humanly possible!
You should consider marketing your products or services to your buying prospects the same way. It's war out there where everyone is vying for part of the consumers mind. You don't have to play dirty to win but you MUST play the game HARD consistently, persistently and with the utmost determination to succeed.
That means getting your message in front of the prospect repeatedly over the course of time from your initial introduction to him until he tells you to stop sending information. This may seem drastic, but who will be sending your prospect information if you are not? Guaranteed it will be someone else who will be there when the time is right for the prospect and you will have lost a sale because you failed to continually stay in the prospects face.
"I don't have the time to do that!" you say.
"YOU MUST" I say!
You can either do it manually with pencil and paper records. Or, you can do it with some sort of database reminder system. Or with a folder system either manual or electronic. Or, you can let technology do it for you!
I vote for letting technology do it for me! One system that I use takes my prospect from the initial "Send Info" request through infinite Follow-ups! All automatically. That's right! Automatically, out of my hands. The system just lets me know who requested info and when and it does the rest for me.
(WARNING!!! The auto responder above has "Sales Letters" in it. "Oh my God! Not another article that markets someone else's products!" YES! It HAS to promote something for you to see what a GOOD marketing system/campaign looks like. If you can not stomach seeing a marketing campaign for my product line or are afraid it might make you buy something, then don't click it. I have been accused of scamming folks when I put the above paragraphs in this article above so I wanted to warn you about what you are getting yourself indoctrinated ahead of time to let you opt out of learning how expert marketers do their marketing.)
The result from that a/r sequence:
Prospects call or email me; "I'm ready! Tell me what to do next!"
Read what one of the auto responder sites says about Follow-up:
Q. How much would you expect to increase your sales if you made 4 or more follow-up e-mail communications? A. 173% (E-Marketing Today). Q. If you doubled this communication rate, could you expect even greater returns? A. Many customers are showing increases of over 400%
My mentors think I'm a master salesman. WRONG! I'm a master educator and use systems to do it for me. I could never find all the time and organization to Follow-up with hundreds of prospects like automated systems can. All I did was write the initial copy of the outgoing emails (actually, my mentors wrote some of them) and load them up into the system and told it how far apart to space the emails.
BUT! Don't think technology will do it all for you. You can close another 20% or more of your contacts with personal contact. People buy "You" as much or more than they buy a product or service. Personal contact makes you into a real person instead of a simple email address or Fax-On-Demand piece of paper.
I most highly recommend calling your prospects. I don't care if you are good on the phone or not. Don't try to "sell" anything on the phone, don't make up a canned pitch like some insurance salesman or mortgage broker. Just strike up a conversation and see what concerns they have. Answer their concern(s) if you can or promise to get back to them via phone, fax or email with an answer. Always be polite and honest and you will be amazed at how many folks respond positively to you. Use others for three-ways until you get the hang of it. It will add an invaluable measure of success to your business.
Finally, you MUST have a good message, good product, good prices and a better deal than everyone else your consumer has seen. If you Follow-up religiously with crummy messages, poor grammar, writing that is not client-centered and benefit-focused, you will NOT see more sales no matter how many times you Follow-up. A lot of that "better deal" is YOU too but your written message must be powerful and totally client-centered. If you are not a good writer, find a seasoned copywriter to help you work up the hard-hitting pieces you will need.
So, what are the rules here?
- Follow-up from 5 to 12 times to get in that 80% bracket.
- Let technology do the Follow-up for you.
- Call your prospects on the phone and make a friend.
- Use client-centered, benefit-focused copy to get your message across.
By the way, depending on what you are selling in products or services, almost everyone is a potential customer most likely, if not now, then in the future. Do you think it makes sense to keep in contact with them? If you said YES, you are right!
How can you do that without pitching them on your product they don't want or need now?
a: Start a periodic ezine and Follow-up weekly with useful information!
b: Have them read some of the articles on my site to see if they are potential candidates:
Remember; the fortune is in the Follow-up. Your accountant will love you if you do Follow-up. You will be out of business if you don't.