In our last article, we talked about why we avoid certain sales activities even though they're essential for success. We then unwrapped prospecting, probably the most common activity sellers avoid.
Today let's examine why we avoid proposal follow-up and account management, and talk about strategies to avoid these.
Proposal Follow-up – It's not about you
Why do we avoid following up on proposals when we haven't heard from the prospect within a reasonable time? It's simple. No one likes rejection. And all too often we assume it's personal. "The prospect must not like me." "I must have done something wrong." "They like so-and-so better than me."
But the reality is that it's almost never about us; it's about them. They get busy. They're waiting for funding. Their priorities shift, or some such thing.
I recently found myself in a situation like this. My prospect kept canceling appointments and avoiding my calls. It would have been easy to take it personally. But one day, out of the blue, he called and said he was ready to go. "How quickly can we get started?" he asked. How thankful I was that I hadn't given up!
His apparent avoidance had been nothing more than waiting for a discussion with his partner.
Proposal Follow-up – No news is not good news
The other reason you might avoid proposal follow-up is you'd rather not know you lost a sale. Not knowing leaves room for hope, or so the thinking goes. But no news is not good news. We all lose sales from time to time for a variety of reasons – rarely personal – and it's better to find out sooner than later.
Once you know, you can adjust your forecast and move on to more productive things.
And who knows, by following up you may find you can save a sale. Maybe the prospect has questions you can answer. Maybe she was just busy and your prompting helped her move forward and decide.
Account Management – Show some love
For similar reasons, we avoid making account management calls to all but our favorite clients. We're afraid of what might be an ugly conversation.
You might be remembering that the client wasn't available or was too busy to talk the last time. Or maybe he cancelled the last meeting without notice.
You might be thinking they're kind of cold and hard to talk to. Maybe he wasn't receptive to a recent recommendation you made. Maybe there's been a customer satisfaction issue and you'd rather not dredge it up again.
Think about it this way instead: Remind yourself why they chose you in the first place. Chances are they have many more reasons to like you than not. Maybe there was just one bad situation, bad timing, or other things going on. Maybe your call can reverse a problem.
Approach each call expecting to help, not expecting a problem. Use questioning to understand. Show some love. (What could be more fitting this Valentine's week?) And remember, it's rarely about you. That takes the intimidation right out of it.
By Kendra Lee