About three weeks ago I received a call from a salesperson who said they were calling on behalf of British Gas. I did ask them to confirm that a few times throughout the call and they were adamant that they were calling from said company. So I had no reason beyond that to object to this though I suspected they were not calling as direct employees of that firm. Nevertheless, I was looking to reduce energy bills in my business, so I listened and concluded the call by asking them to send me an email with their rates attached so I could compare. I guess most salespeople are familiar with this response at the end of a cold call and many salespeople make the mistake of thinking that it means the prospect is not interested. If you are one of those salespeople, then you might very well be losing a good proportion of your sales opportunities. Here are some quick tips to make sure that you maximise on each of your follow up actions;

1. Confirm to conclude. First Confirm everything you agreed with the prospect once again to make sure you haven't missed anything, and to give your prospect chance to something. Confirmation doesn't have to take long. Something like "great so I will write you an email with XYZ. Send you a Link to ABC so you can take a look through....Then diarise to call you on..."

2. Compelling reasons. Always promise added value for when you send an email or for when you are going to call back. For instance, you might want to say "when I call back, I'll share some tips that we have on....." If you are sending an email, give them a compelling reason to look for your email by doing the same: add free value to it. So using the same example as in point 1: "...Oh and I'll send you a link to some free online learning tools".

3. Get a number. If you are going to call them as with the email, ask them three little questions: Firstly ask which number is best to call on? - It is the best time to get a direct dial number. Secondly, ask them when to call them back? - this should give you an insight into who else or what they need to consider? before you speak to them again. Thirdly ask then when is the best time to call them? It's disheartening to have to chase someone you have built a rapport with, and leaving voicemails is never ideal.

4. Diarise and reminders. There are so many reasons why you might forget about this follow-up, including the fact that you might get another opportunity that sounds bigger or you made it a flexible call back. That's all very well, but a diary full of follow-ups leads to a healthy pipeline. A healthy pipeline is essential to business success. As long as you always have someone to follow up with, you will feel motivated to carry on making more calls. Results spur actions.

5. Email identity. If you are going to promise an email, make sure they know how to identify your email from the many others that they are going to receive. For example, tell them the email address you will use. In the case I used in the intro of this article, the salesperson I spoke to insisted that he was calling from British Gas, which as I mentioned I didn't think he was. He may have been representing them, but his email domain wouldn't necessarily show that. So I had been waiting for an email from British Gas, which I didn't receive. The salesperson also gave me a nickname, rather than his actual name so I would never be able to identify his email amongst all the other sales emails coming in from similar energy savers. Prospects don't have the time to look for your email if it's not easily recognised, especially if they know there will be another competitor contact them soon enough.

    So to conclude: All the hard work you put into overcoming your fears of making cold calls, the research you did and then getting through to a progressive stage; This can all be a waste of your time if you don't put as much effort into 'what's next', and that starts when you conclude your call. The 'goodbye' is just as crucial to get right as the 'hello' for success.

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