Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Effective Follow-Up

Did you know that buyers tell you how to sell them?

Here's what happens to everyone. You meet a prospect, have a pleasant chat and they appear interested. They may schedule a second meeting, or even a third. But then that dark day comes. You call and email and you’re ignored. Sometimes, the problem is you.

Part one of the effective follow-up: Did You Click With the Buyer?

Personality is built on unique psychological qualities that influence behavior and thinking. Sometime a buyer and seller click and in thirty short minutes, they establish a meaningful emotional connection. Both parties find it easy to read and interpret the other’s verbal and nonverbal cues, and conversation is comfortable.

In other cases, personalities clash. Take the example of Bob and Howard. Bob is in his thirties. He goes to an appointment with Howard dressed in khakis and a golf shirt. Howard is in his late fifties and a traditional thinker. Bob’s attire offends Howard because he believes it demonstrates a lack of respect. Bob’s questioning style is direct and assertive. Howard doesn’t like that either. He slaps another label on Bob, reading “Too pushy.” When Bob tries to schedule a follow-up appointment, Howard won't take his calls.

David Taylor is a Certified Purchasing Manager and president of Supply Management Alternatives. He purchased printing for several companies. When asked about the personality issue, he said, "I’m turned off by the person who represents the stereotypical used-car salesperson. They talk a blue streak, want to make a deal with everyone, brag about how their price is the best and don’t ask enough questions.”

“We decide who we don’t want to be friends with before we decide who we do want to be friends with,” Beverley Fehr writes in her book, “Friendship Processes.” Face-to-face meetings and selling conversations expose similarities and differences. When we encounter people who read from a different script, it’s uncomfortable to some degree. Salespeople are more willing to chug through discomfort and look for common ground because building a relationship with a potential buyer puts money in our pocket.

To earn a return invitation, focus first on rapport building and be more likable. In his book, “How to Make People Like You in 90 Seconds or Less,” Nicholas Boothman says, “Likeability has something to do with how you look but a lot more to do with how you make people feel.”

Some buyers enjoy chit-chat about personal issues. Others want to get right down to business. To establish what the buyer desires ask, "How did you end up at this job?"

Do they enthusiastically share bits and pieces of personal history such as where they grew up or went to school? Or do they limit their answer to a short unembellished recitation of career highlights? No matter what is said, the answer illuminates preferences and copying the buyer’s conversational styles helps you establish rapport and keeps the sales cycle progressing.

More on the effective follow-up tomorrow.

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