An opportunity to work with a new customer stalled recently and nearly didn’t happen. I was contacted by the MD of a business who wanted to give his sales staff a sales refresher to bring their knowledge and skills up. He was talking to a couple of other providers too.
Fast forward through the opening conversation, discussion of initial objectives, proposal, and numerous follow ups by phone, he still hadn’t decided to go ahead.
During the next call I heard the same kind of response “I do want to do something except we’re busy with other things in the business still so we don’t have time to set aside for training right now…”
I decided to tackle the issue head on:
Me: “Yes, I appreciate things are still crazy busy and have been since we started discussing helping your sales team. What are they doing that’s keeping them so busy?”
MD: “Well they spend some time on the road seeing some clients and the rest of it responding to requests for quotes…”
Me: “And how happy are you with the conversion from those enquiries?”
MD: “That’s the issue, we send out loads of quotes and the business is doing well but I feel that we’re missing opportunities…”
Me: “And how are they responded to and followed up?”
MD: “Pretty much exclusively by e mail for the initial response and the follow up tends to be done on a Friday afternoon.”
Me: “By e mail again?”
MD: “I’m told there are some calls made however I think mostly, yes!”
Me: “OK, I think I see what the issue is- you are getting good levels of enquiries, some turn into business but the conversion and volume is lower because your team are relying on e mail and not showing enough care to the Prospect or customer by finding out more. What happens if the customer or Prospect speaks to another provider who has shown more interest by initiating a phone call?- You are immediately on the back foot as an e mail is ineffective unless it’s to clarify or confirm something which has already been discussed or agreed.
MD: “I’ve been asking them to do this all along.”
Me: “OK, it sounds like we’ve established what we should focus on together doesn’t it, how do you feel about us helping them to manage the leads more effectively to get the conversion and revenue up? We’ll even make some follow up calls together during the training so you’ll still have a productive day!”
How often do you hear the same kind of responses when following up? And then the responses don’t come and it goes quiet and you are in the sales nuisance category.
Maybe it’s time to challenge a little to understand if there is a different way you can help- in this situation the requirement went from being a sales refresher to focussing purely on management of leads. The issue stalling the opportunity became the motive!
Before following up have a few questions planned, challenge positively and adopt a problem solver mind set –there’s always a way, you just need to find it!