If you think a sale ends at the moment a prospective client signs the dotted line, you’re wrong. In today's sales landscape, a salesperson is continuously working to establish a positive relationship and to show value to their clients.
Vendasta CRO George Leith sits down to talk sales, and more specifically the inevitable follow-up meeting that is often dreaded by salespeople. Why do some salespeople fear the 30-day follow-up? Because often times a salesperson has not done enough work to uncover the unique needs of their customer before pushing a product or service that will actually solve their problems.
George has over 25 years experience selling, managing, motivating, and leading successful sales forces across the world. During his time in, sales George has learned a thing or two, including how to conquer the dreaded follow-up appointment. Now, you can too.
1. The Consultative Approach: Base the Sale on Something Your Client Needs
Selling to your clients without identifying their needs is not only a waste of their money, but it makes the salesperson look bad when examining advertisement success with that client. No salesperson wants to follow-up with a customer or local business and have to inform them of an unsuccessful advertisement. How to avoid this? Needs-based, consultative selling.
Do your research and spend some time identifying a client’s specific needs before you sell them specific tools. A lot of the time advertisers will make the assumption that a client “needs” a product or package. Making assumptions or predictions can often leave a salesperson making excuses for why an advertisement did not work.
Take time, understand your client, and sell them a solution to their specific problem. Not all local businesses are the same, and just because one product or service worked for another business does not mean it will work for your new prospective clients.
Find out their needs, offer a solution, and show them success.
So when we talk about that sales process, or we gain insights, and we do research, and we’re a student of the customer, we’re asking questions, and we’re looking for the nuggets, and then we develop a strategy that matches the needs of the customer.George Leith
Recommended Reading: Rand Fishkin on Authenticity and Shattering Growth Hack Mythology
2. Visit Your Clients—Often
A consistent, ongoing rapport with your customers is key to building successful sales relationships. Stop thinking of it as “selling” and start thinking of it as relationship building.
Be sure to respond promptly to your client's needs, evaluate goals, listen to your client attentively, adjust goals if needed, and work to assist your client along the way. In today's sales space, a salesperson cannot rely on a drop-in communication model where they only reach out when they want a signature.
Want to separate your sales team from the rest? Meet with your clients at a faster cadence than your competitors would.
For some things that we are selling it should be weekly, for other things it should be monthly. I’ll tell you the person that I will beat and that I’m hoping that you on this podcast will beat every time is the salesperson that’s selling digital marketing solutions on an annual. Ha! ha! I am going to crush that every single time because that means that they’re just coming back to see the customer once a year. The world is moving too fast folks, you can’t do that stuff anymore, you need to go back to see the customer on a monthly cadence. Somebody better. If you can’t as a salesperson because you’re the rainmaker that just brings the deals in, you’ve got to have somebody on your team that can walk back in on a monthly cadence or somebody else - a competitor - is going to eat your lunch.George Leith
3. Don’t Lie!
Don’t act like you have all of the answers if you don’t because it is too easy to verify information now with the likes of Google at a person’s fingertips. Don't be afraid to say you don't know! The point is that lying is only going to hurt your sales relationship and your clients will see right through slimy sales tactics.
Be honest, be truthful and don’t be afraid to admit when you don’t have the answer.
So, we always, when we’re talking to young salespeople especially, we say, “Don’t ever lie.” Here’s the reason. It’s called the Internet. It’s called Google. Everyone has one. There are more phones in the world than there are toothbrushes. And that’s disgusting because there’s a bunch of people walking around talking on their phone that didn’t brush their teeth today. But my point is that that phone is a computer and it has a search engine, and when you say something to somebody you can damn well bet that the next thing that they’re doing is searching to see if you told them the truth or not.George Leith
4. Don’t Spin Things!
Similar to lying, spinning the truth involves inaccurately framing sales results to clients. Don’t try to spin things—clients are smarter than that and when they eventually see your lack of transparency, you will lose their business.
As George says below, tell your clients the truth and make an action plan to fix the results if they aren’t what you (or the client) expected to see.
Even if the results aren’t what you kind of expected, you’re gonna have to do a bit of a spin on it—don’t spin. There’s no time for spinning anymore. Go to the client say, “It didn’t quite work the way that we expected, here’s the things that we’re going to change and we expect to see this result. I’ll be back in 30 days or I’ll phone you in 2 weeks and tell you if we’re moving down the track.George Leith
5. Show Clients Results, Set the Bar and Take Initiative
You can no longer make a sale based on empty promises—it's time to pull out the big guns with showing clients results. It is a lot easier to be in a follow-up meeting or appointment when you can show your clients that your product or service is actually working the way they want it to. No salesperson enjoys getting an earful because a client is not getting what they expected from their hard earned money.
Like Mike Giamprini said in the 411 episode of Conquer Local, they set a 90-day window to prove results of their services to the client. This includes ongoing conversation and updates throughout the 90-day period with an evaluation of success in the latter stages of the window.
"We’ll spend a good 90 days proving to the customer that we can impact their online presence positively, and we can sort of make them look better, appear relevant, appear more often, appear consistently online, and get them ready to then drive eyeballs to their businesses. So 90 days later, we’ll create an opportunity to sell some paid search to the customer - if it’s relevant - if it makes sense for them." — Mike Giamprini
So my point at the top of the broadcast was the place where I see salespeople, account executives, marketing consultants, whatever you’re calling yourself today, failing the most is around that setting, the key performance indicators (KPIs) or the proof of performance by not setting that bar.George Leith
This all starts with setting the bar or establishing clear goals. When a salesperson can consult with their clients to establish a framework for success, then both parties have aligned expectations of the sales relationship. A client should be able to review various KPIs and see that their money is being put to good use.
These performance indicators will show the client that the bar you set is being met or is exceeding the client's expectations.
If you set that bar that you are gonna be the one that’s gonna walk them through it. You were the one that convinced them to buy this thing. You were the one that convinced them to make the investment. You’re going to be the one that’s gonna walk them through to prove that it worked and what you’re going do to adapt the tactics, to adapt what you’re doing inside the strategy to make sure that you’re hitting those marks. That’s where you’re able to bring the most value to the sales conversation.George Leith
Lastly, taking initiative is the final piece of the puzzle. Some sales teams will sell, sell, sell and then wipe their hands clean of the sale once they have money in the bank. This is not the way to build relationships, and it certainly is not going to make for an enjoyable follow-up meeting.
For a full explanation and an in-depth look into how sales teams can conquer the follow-up call/meeting, tune into Episode 106 of the Conquer Local Podcast now!