Effective Follow-up is Key to Success
By Ted Ings, Executive Director
Do you want to outperform the competition and be the top salesperson or service advisor in your company? Or better yet in your industry?
One, simple step could be the move that pushes you over the top and separates you from the pack.
Selling your product is about building relationships and spreading the word that you can give the customer what they are looking for. This is true for any business. Whether you’re selling sales or service, you need to be the first person that comes to mind when a customer considers buying your type of product.
Very few companies have the luxury of a product that is totally unique or sells itself, most have to work hard for sales and in the current business climate, it really is survival of the fittest. If you are not in a customer’s “line of sight” or on their mind, you will simply not be their first call.
A significant element of your successful long-term sales strategy is follow-up. It is designed to build relationships and bring customers back to you, again and again. One simple follow-up call, note or email can be the thing that makes a customer choose your product over the competition.
Won’t it be great to spend half your day taking calls and booking appointments with customers who are contacting you because they have already decided to buy their next vehicle from you, rather than you phoning them to convince them to make that purchase? It would make you far more productive and significantly push up your sales figures. And it can be done.
Research indicates that as many as 75% of automobile buyers never receive a follow-up call or action after they have purchased their vehicle.
But why does this matter? It matters because it shows that less than 1 in 4 salespeople are doing what it takes to effectively generate repeat and referral business, and this impacts on sales. The average dealership sees fewer than 30% of customers return to make a future purchase. And that is a big loss for dealerships. Those are customers that you have already put time and effort into cultivating, according to the Harvard Business Review, selling to a new client cost five to 25 times more than to an existing client, and a simple follow-up, that barely costs anything, could have kept them loyal for years.
Why do salespeople not take follow-up action?
Part of the reason that salespeople don’t take follow-up action is that they’re not thinking like salespeople and they’re not seeing themselves as career salespeople. All they’re thinking about is moving on to the next sale, and the next, rather than a long-term sales strategy. They don’t understand that following up could turn them into top produces, and earn them significant amounts of income, in a few short years. Once you start thinking long-term, the follow-up becomes automatic.
You do the math
If you work with average figures and base your assumptions on the average behavior of customers, the scenario looks like this. If you sell 10 cars per months, and you follow-up with your customers every five months, you will keep your name in their line of sight and when they consider buying a new vehicle, they will automatically think of you.
If you’re conservative and work on the premise that you will get a 30% customer return rate that will mean three repeat sales for every ten follow-ups. If the average customer buys a new car every four years and your original business turns over every four years, then in your 5th through 8th year of sales you will average 13 cars per month, and in your 9th through 12th years that number will grow to 16 cars per month. Now do this sum – how much money will you be making, on your current pay plan, selling 19 cars per month in your 13th through 16th year in business?
It’s a no-brainer, you’ve done the legwork, you’ve done the sales presentation, the customer is happy with their initial purchase, and now you simply need to reap the rewards of repeat sales.
Top career salespeople, who have followed this simple strategy, have found that their business turns over every three years on average and has increased through referrals. They no longer work weekends, unless they choose to, and they don’t take fresh ups because their diary is full and their business is by appointment only. And the biggest shocker – most of them started as average salespeople. But what made them exceptional is that they developed a long-term goal, were prepared to work at it, and used the follow-up strategy effectively.
How follow-up works
An effective sales follow-up strategy is a process that consists of initiating, building and consolidating a long-term relationship with your customers.
Remember a follow-up call is not a blatant sales call, it is more subtle than that. Following up with your customer, a few days after a sale to make sure that they are happy with their purchase shows that you care about more than just the sale and are interested in their long-term satisfaction. It’s a check-in to see that they are happy, and it builds on the relationship that you initiated during the sales process.
It’s quick and easy to send a thank you note. Some companies use email and others enclose a handwritten card with their invoice. It’s a small token of appreciation that can make a big difference to your customer. A follow-up call, a couple of weeks after a sale is a quick call designed to build a long-term relationship.
In your follow-up call ask for your client’s permission to communicate with them. Then send them helpful and relevant information based on their needs and interests. Don’t bombard them with emails or put them on a general mailing list. Send personal, targeted emails that focus on high-value content, and remember to send a birthday wish. This will keep the lines of communication open and consolidate your relationship with your client.
Why follow-up works
It always pays to take care of your existing customers. People like to feel special, and follow-up shows that you care. It allows you to build long-term relationships with customers, and these relationships build brand loyalty and translate into future sales in the form of repeat business and referrals.
If people are happy with your product and have a relationship with you, they are far more likely to recommend you to a friend or colleague.
A recommendation from a happy customer is far more effective and cheaper than any other form of advertising.