Here are seven important steps to follow:
1. Don’t assume the sale.
Prospects are used to the traditional buyer-seller relationship. They assume you’ll pressure them. Therefore, they may decide not to tell you things that make them vulnerable to pressure. Until you’re sure you know the complete truth, you can never assume the sale is yours.
2. Keep making it easy for potential clients to tell you their truth.
Toward the end of your conversation, ask, “Do you have any more questions?” If the answer is no, follow up with the 100% final truth gathering question: “Now, are you 100% sure that there’s nothing else that I can do on my end to make you feel more comfortable with this situation?”
You’ll be amazed how often people will reply, “Well, actually, there’s one more issue…” It’s at this point that you really start to hear their truth.
3. Call back to get the truth, not close the sale.
Most potential clients who suddenly disappear expect you to chase them down. They expect you to call and say, “Hi, I was just wondering where things are at?”
Instead, eliminate all sales pressure by telling them you’re okay with their decision not to move forward, based on their not having called you back. In other words, take a step backward. Most of the time, this will open the door to a new level of trust-filled communication.
4. Reassure them that you can handle a “no.”
Of course, we’d rather hear a yes. However, the only way to free yourself and your clients from subtle sales pressure is to let them know that it’s not about the sale – it’s about the best choice for them. If that means no sale, it’s okay with you.
5. Ask for feedback.
Whenever prospects disappear, call them back (e-mail only as a last resort because dialogue is always better). Simply ask, “Would you please share your feedback with me as to how I can improve for next time? I’m committed to understanding where I went wrong.”
This is not being feeble or weak. It’s being humble. This invites the truth.
6. Don’t try to “close” a sale.
If your intuition tells you that the sales process isn’t going in the direction it should be going (which is always toward greater trust and truth), then trust those feelings.
Make it safe for prospects to tell you where they stand. It’s simple. All you have to say is, “Where do you think we should go from here?” But be prepared because you might not want to hear the truth of how they’re feeling. You can cope with this by keeping your larger goal in mind, which is always to establish that the two of you have a “fit.”
7. Give yourself the last word.
Eliminate the anxiety of waiting for the final call that will tell you whether the sale is going to happen. Instead, schedule a time for getting back to each other during your conversation. This eliminates chasing. Simply suggest, “Can we plan to get back to each other on a day and at a time that works for you? Not to close the sale, but simply to bring closure, regardless of what you decide. I’m okay either way, and that’ll save us from having to chase each other.”
You’ll find that these suggestions make selling much less painful because you stay focused on the truth instead of the sale. The truth is, the more we release the idea of needing to make the sale, the more sales we will likely see.Seven Steps to Cold Calling Follow-Up by Harrison Barnes