Ok, you have closed the sale, delivered the service, installed the unit or set up the system. The customer is happy and you made a nice return for your time. Now what? No matter what you sell, after sales follow up is a critical step in the sales process.
Even if you sell a product or service that does not lend itself to “repeat” sales, post sales follow up is important. Follow up is an integral part of the sales process and until you have done this, the sale is NOT complete. Post sales follow up is also in addition to “stay-in-touch” contact such as sending birthday, and anniversary cards.
How you stay in touch with your clients through greeting cards and other occasions should be automatic and will depend on the nature of your business. For instance, a life insurance agent is intimately more in touch her clients as to birthdays and other personal milestones than a vacuum cleaner sales person is with her customers. In addition to basic staying in touch, you need good sales and service follow up. If your goal is just to make a quick buck, then this template may not be for you. However, if you want to build a long and successful consulting career in sales, then you must continue your service after you close the sale.
Good post sales follow up is simple in that there are only a few components; just a couple of steps to follow. Depending on your product or service, these components may require a few minutes or a few months. In either case, follow these three simple steps and you will build a solid career, long-term relationships and a reputation in your industry that is worth the price of gold!
The Return on Your Investment
One of the reasons so many consultants have trouble committing to after sales service and follow up is because they cannot see the return on their investment. Many people feel that once the sale is closed and the commission earned and spent, any further time allotted to the customer is a waste. After all, you are paid to make sales not to “hold a customer’s hand” after you have made the sale. However, effective sales follow up will do more than patronise your customer; it will bring you more sales.
Follow up also does not mean that you must bend over backwards and “jump through hoops” at the whim of your customer’s impulses. While you should always provide your clients with a value that is greater than the money they paid, you will still perform a service.
Follow these three simple steps:
1. Continue to sell
2. Make yourself available
3. Become a liaison for everything
Continue to Sell
What happens to your enthusiasm for your product or service once you close the sale? Usually when the customer has signed the order, received the goods and paid the bill, the sales person discontinues the “selling.” At first glance this appears to make sense, because the customer has bought the product; the client has agreed to the service and therefore no more selling is needed. The sales person feels no need to continue to try to convince the customer, because the customer is “sold.” However, this instant “drop” in your enthusiasm and zeal for your product or service can have a detrimental “buyer’s remorse” effect on your customers.
From the client’s perspective, you were first very excited to get the opportunity just to speak to the client about your wonderful product. You and your company spent a lot of money promoting this product and securing an appointment. You jumped up and down about how essential the product was to your customer and pushed for the sale. You pushed the client to buy the product NOT because you needed the money but because you felt the customer needed the product. You assured the client that you had his or her best interest at heart. You insisted the prospect buy the service because he would benefit more than anyone. You emphatically claimed that your primary motive was to help the customer and the money was only secondary. Then, once you “got the money,” that was it. It all stopped and you disappeared.
If you are genuinely excited about a product, that excitement should remain with you after the sale and regardless if the customer makes a purchase or not. Also, it is after the customer makes the initial purchase that their doubt and second thoughts begin to creep in. It is after the customer has spent his money when his neighbor tells him that he made a mistake or the husband tells his wife she should not have signed the agreement. It is after the sale that the true “OBJECTIONS” arise. You have to continue to SELL your product to the customer almost as if the customer did not buy: continue to sell the product long after the sale.
As you visit the customer and continue to sell the product for which the customer has already made the purchase, it strengthens the buying decision in the mind of the customer and raises your level of professionalism. The customer realises that you are still selling even though there is no commission to be made. The customer realises that you actually believe in what you said. The customer’s trust in you grows and this is where the customer will begin to “open up” and inform you of their other needs.
Depending on the product or service you sell, this continuation of the sale, can be simple or very complex. If you sell services that interconnect, then this process will be ongoing and more detailed. You want to come up with three to five ways that you will continue to sell your product AFTER the sale.
Here’s an example:
A security systems consultant closes the sale for advice and an alarm system with the business owner. Two weeks after the sale, the consultant visits and brings the customer some recent news articles about robberies in the area, reassuring the customer that his decision was sound and well timed. Another two weeks later, the consultant sends the customer a letter in the post with some statistics that show that owners of their systems and consultancy services have never suffered a break in.
Make Yourself Available
Let your customer know that you are “available” anytime for anything. Make an occasional telephone call or send a letter that tells the customer that you are “there” to assist. It is important NOT to sell on these occasions and you can combine this with your staying in touch occasions. Create three to five ways to inform your customer that you are available. Remember, these can be days apart or months apart.
Become a Liaison for Everything
One of the most effective ways to maintain account management and to follow up is to become a liaison for your customer to other services and needs. Become someone that the customer can call for ANYTHING that they may need even though it may not relate directly to your product or service. Become a “resource” for your customers.
For example, let us say that you sell executive training services and your client, Mr. Jones, is a happy customer. Of course, you will stay in touch with Mr. Jones in as far as providing him with additional training services. However, what of Mr. Jones’ other needs? You find that Mr. Jones is in the market for a new car. You do not sell cars, but one of your clients owns a dealership. You also have clients involved in technology, real estate, finance and insurance. You want to inform your client that before he goes to search the telephone directory to buy anything, to call you first.
Sales Person: “Mr. Jones, please remember that you can call me for anything and I mean anything. As I had mentioned, I have a lot of customers in all types industries in this area. They are all successful people just like you. So, when you need an estate agent or a lawyer, don’t pick up the telephone book, call me first…”
You then become a major resource for the customer; a super directory: a Super Sales Person. This networking will bring you a lot of extra business in addition to keeping your customers happy. Over the course of time, make three to five actions that inform your client that you are the conduit to all of his or her needs.
Sean McPheat is regarded as a leading authority on modern day selling. Sean is a bestselling author and has appeared on CNN, ITV, BBC and has over 250 other media credits to his name. Sean founded MTD Sales Training in 2001 and since then they have helped over 50,000 staff. Please visit Sean’s Sales Blog for his latest musings and tips. Sean also offers free audios, videos and sales tips.