A lot has been written over the years about what we need to do in sales visits. Not so common though is advice on what to do once we have left so that ours is the visit that ‘keeps on selling’. It is important that we ensure that after every visit with a prospect that we leave them with something of benefit as a result of our visit / contact.
On a project type sale this should be something that develops the opportunity on, i.e.:
- At the first meeting we should be telling them something of interest to them and obtaining samples and/or information to enable us to demonstrate what we can do for them
- When we are returning the samples or going back with recommendations we should be obtaining feedback, stressing the benefits they will have once they choose our solution and setting the scene for a demo / order placement, etc…
With an existing customer contact the same rules apply, we should still be leaving them appreciating our time and effort. If, for whatever reason at the end of the call the customer feels they didn’t get anything from our visit then it may well have been a waste of theirs and our time (hard to accept for salespeople who believe that relationship is the be-all-and-end-all of selling).
To ensure we don’t find ourselves in this situation the things we can and should do during customer visits include:
- Go to the people and locations where our products / services are used (the coal face) and check that things are as they should be (things are correctly being used, everyone understand what they can do with it, etc…)
- Note any observations regarding things the customer needs to address
- Note any recommendations regarding how we can help them get more from our products/services
- Check that what we are offering and supplying is still the right thing and best solution for them and where it isn’t make a recommendation to improve their situation (i.e. by using product B instead of product A)
- Check that the customer is everything is happy with everything or are there any questions / issues that we can be of service on from their perspective (just because we think everything is okay doesn’t mean the customer will be thinking that)
After the visit – we need to document the things discussed and checked as above and communicate it with them. Today the easiest and most commonly used method for doing this is using email to confirm what has been covered in the visit and setting / agreeing next action details and dates. We should also be inviting them to ask us any questions as and when they have them (which having perceived value should be something they’ll be inclined to do) and we should send this after the visit.
Simple stuff really and the beauty is that most of this can be templated, so typing and sending the email after the visit can be done from a smartphone with the minimum of effort. These can even be dictated so you don’t even have to type! Such emails can also then serve as the material to update your customer records / CRM where deemed appropriate which again will also save us time and effort.
Whilst we are doing this it is also the perfect opportunity to check we have (amongst other things) the:
- correct contact details for all of the relevant personnel at the customer / prospect company (across the range of personnel we would deal with i.e. production managers, quality managers, purchasing, accounts, senior management, etc…). This gives us the chance to introduce ourselves to any new personnel and ensure they know to speak with us regarding any issues / questions they may have (helping us provide a better service and get the next opportunity)
- updated and correct information relating to our products and services
- updated and correct information on the situation at our customers and whether they are likely to be requiring additional and/or other things (volume increases, upselling and cross selling potential, etc…)
- correct industry classification for the CRM system to help us send relevant marketing information to the right people to help create more needs / opportunities and offer appropriate services / support
If for whatever reason after the visit we are struggling to send an email discussing how we have progressed an opportunity or have provided a service then we need to understand that from the prospect / customer’s perspective the call wasn’t warranted, and when that happens we will find that our chances of developing business from it will be limited if not dead. Equally we’ll find they’ll be less willing to see us again which in turn will also leave us finding it more difficult to achieve targets.