When you’re already tasked with cold-calling to uncover new prospects and regular sales calls geared to convince confirmed customers to cross the finish line, the idea of adding yet another category of must-do phone contacts to your already-packed to-do list might be unappealing, to say the least.
But according to a growing consensus of the top sales gurus, if you’re having trouble finding new projects to feed into your sales funnel, a well-timed and properly executed program of follow-up calls might be just what the doctor ordered.
In many cases, customers who might be mulling a new project just need a little prompting to get the ball rolling. A friendly chat to say hi and check on the status of their current IT set-up might be all they need to take the plunge and initiate an update or expansion. Use these tips to turn follow-up calls into repeat-sales gold.
Time your follow-up call appropriately. When is the right time for a follow-up call? It depends on your unique business cycle. Experts say that the perfect time is some point after your clients have had enough time to get used to their new software or hardware, but before the novelty of the new equipment has completely worn off. It’s up to you to translate those general parameters into a follow-up schedule that makes sense in the context of your business.
Conduct some pre-call preparation and research. Before you pick up the phone, take the time to reacquaint yourself with the particulars of the client and their firm. Double-check the specs of the last project you completed for them. Based on what you know about their business, brainstorm a few possible ideas for future upgrades or expansions.
Begin by requesting a general status update. The first order of business is setting aside enough time for a sincere and comprehensive discussion of the system that’s currently in place. If the client senses that you have an ulterior motive or that your interest is insincere, your chances of uncovering an opportunity for a future sale will likely dwindle to nil.
Listen closely for unmet needs and pain points. In the IT space, it’s common for non-technical clients to have only the vaguest understanding of what’s missing from their current set-up or how they might best be able to fill in any blanks. During the follow-up call, keep an ear out for any indications of stress or dissatisfaction—these areas might be prime territory to address in future projects.
Frame your relationship as an ongoing partnership. Whether or not your follow-up call yields any specific prospects for future work, make sure the entire conversation unfolds within a consultative framework. In other words, conduct the discussion from the perspective of a project manager or a consultant—as an advocate who’s got the client’s best interests in mind and who is in it for the long haul. That way, you’ll position yourself as the logical person to turn to when the client has unmet needs in the future.
Are follow-up calls a part of your standard operating procedure? Do have any foolproof tips for prospecting with existing clients? Let us know in the comments.