Connell on Selling
The last time we talked about gathering contact information. Now that you have it, what do you do with it? You use it to build a relationship with your prospect.
In the last post, we used a scenario that involved a prospective customer for a watch at a mall jewelry store, so we will stick with it. The prospect has gone, but you did get his contact information. What’s next? Call him the next day and thank him for his visit - without fail. This is more a thank you call than a sales call, but do ask him if he has considered buying any of the watches he looked at the day before. What you need now is an appointment to get him back in the store. If you can get him back in on an appointment he transitions from a 10% prospect to an 80% prospect. You will probably have your sale.
Another thing to do the day after the prospect visits your store is to send him a thank you note. Handwritten notes are best. You can buy note cards very inexpensively at Wal-Mart, for example. If you want to go all out, you can have a printer print some personalized cards for you, but it really isn’t necessary. Use a postage stamp, too, rather than running it through the meter. Hand address the envelope and put your name and home address as the return address. The more personal it looks, the greater the likelihood that the prospect will open it. Don’t forget to put one of your business cards in the note. If your employer will provide you with these cards and stamps, great, but if not, buy them yourself. I promise that they will pay for themselves many times over.
Does your company use a form of customer relations management software, or CRM?
This is basically a database that helps you, and your company, keep track of customers and prospects. These are most prevalent in the car business, but other businesses use them, too. If it is a rather advanced CRM, it will be capable of generating thank you letters automatically. If your company has one, use it to keep them happy, but it is no replacement for your spiral notebook with your contact information in it.
Also, you need to compile your contact information into a database of your own. We shall hope that you have a computer at home. If you don’t have one, try and budget for one as soon as possible. You can use any database program that you like, but the two that I prefer are Microsoft Access and Microsoft Works. Access is part of Microsoft Office Professional and is rather expensive, but it does allow you to work from other computers that have Office installed. Microsoft Works Suite is much less expensive and does just as good of job, but portability in this format is somewhat limited. This information is really for your own use, anyway, so Works does just fine. By the way, if you do not have a computer, most public libraries have them. You can use them for free for an hour or two a day, usually. Be sure to take a flash drive with you so you can save your work.
The information that you are putting into your home database should include the prospect’s name, address, phone number(s), and email address. I keep separate databases for prospects and sold customers. In the customer database, I keep information also on what the customer bought and when. It’s not a bad idea, too, to have a field for the customer’s birthday, so you can send them a birthday card.
Now, back to our jewelry store customer. Let’s suppose that you made your thank you call, but did not get an appointment. When do you think you should re-contact him? You will have to use some instinct on this one, but as a general rule, make that second call a little sooner than your instinct might suggest. Remember that your prospect is now hot for a new watch. You don’t want him to cool off or, worse, go shopping around. As a rule, you have about seventy-two hours to either sell him or at least make an appointment with him.
If you will follow these steps with every prospect, you will see your closing ratio improve from an average of ten to twenty percent to something closer to thirty-five percent.
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by Kevin Connell