smb-tech-trendsThere’s no telling how things will go when you place a follow-up sales call. A prospect that may appear enthusiastic about your small business offering may not return a call or respond to your email. You can attribute their failure to reply to a number of things – they found a more attractive deal, had a change of mind, want a different solution or decided to hold off on a decision for now. Whatever the reason, most people find it hard to say no, so they will go to considerable lengths to avoid it.

To keep the sales process moving along, try setting a specific time and day for the follow up call rather than offering to call sometime in the next few weeks. Reluctance to schedule a time to call is a good indication that the prospect is not planning to move things ahead.

Aim to seal the deal in your follow-up

Assuming a prospect wants to talk again, you don’t want to lose the sale when you follow up. Here are some to keep in mind to seal the deal or at least keep the process moving in the right direction

Send a reminder: A day or two before the call; send a reminder. Not only confirm the date and time, include an agenda and restate what you discussed in your initial call. If you have industry information on the subject of concern or interest to your prospect, send it along. It shows you are proactive.

Be prepared. Review everything you promised to do in your initial call and have all the information ready. If you’ve agreed to provide materials; send them in advance so your prospect has time to prepare questions. If others need to be on the call; line them up well in advance to ensure their availability.

Be on time:  Being late shows a lack of respect for your prospect. It reflects negatively on Businessman walks on a modern corridoryou and your small business. With mobile devices, you can be available anywhere at any time –using a headset if necessary to cancel background noise  –  so there’s really no excuse for being late these days.

Take command at the opening:  Set the stage for the conversation by addressing the problem, concern or opportunity that prompted the follow up. “We spoke about your concerns for rising insurance premiums,” is a lot stronger then, “I wanted to follow up on the packet I sent you.”

Keep the focus on the prospect’s needs: The follow-up call is not a time to reiterate what your small business has to offer. That information got you the second call. The follow-up call is your opportunity to show how what you provide meets a prospect’s specific needs – something you should have learned from the initial call.

Seek out and address concerns: Many sales are lost because of failure to address a prospect’s concerns. Not everyone is forthcoming about what lingering doubts they have about the ability of your small business to meet their needs. Ask questions and listen carefully. You’ll be able to pick up clues.

Don’t let voicemail deter you:  A prospect may not answer right away when you call. If you find yourself in voicemail, leave a message indicating you called at the agreed upon time. Wait 10 or 15 minutes and try again. If still no answer, leave your phone number and offer to call back again later or the following day. Try a few more times with voice mail or email over the next few weeks. Be persistent but not annoying.

Not all follow-up calls will win the business but by taking these steps, your chances are better.