Think back to the last time you were on a date. Sparks likely flew during your first conversation, but whether or not you're still together depends, in part, on the follow-up. If you didn't receive a call, e-mail or text—or received too many—within 72 hours, there was no second date. Sales can be a lot like dating. Consider these four tips the next time you want to close a business deal, and land that "second date."
1. Establish next steps before leaving the first meeting. Your sales meeting is wrapping up and your lead is in a rush to get to their next appointment. Before saying goodbye, solidify plans for a follow-up meeting or phone call, recommends Wendy Weiss, a New York City-based sales consultant known as "The Queen of Cold Calling."
2. E-mail immediately. You plan to meet at least 10 qualified leads at your next networking event, but unless you follow-up the same day, they may forget your conversation ever happened, says Shannon Mouton, founder of Topaz Consulting, a marketing firm based in Washington, D.C. Try shooting off a quick e-mail within two or three hours of an initial meeting.
Keep the e-mail brief, just a few sentences, and recap your specific conversation with the lead. Mouton recommends including a short elevator pitch of what you can do for them. Close with a mention that you will call them the following morning.
3. Tread lightly. There’s a fine line between effective follow-up and annoying followup. Mouton follows the five-seven rule. If you’ve initiated five conversations or follow-ups within seven business days and still haven’t closed the deal, it’s time to back off.
After sending the initial follow-up e-mail, call the following morning. You will most likely only get a few minutes on the phone, says Mouton. If that's the case, send another e-mail asking to schedule a longer, in-person meeting or conference call.
If the lead goes cold after these exchanges, keep in touch by sending your company’s newsletters or sending an individual e-mail every six to eight weeks, she suggests.
4. Show gratitude. Politeness never gets old. Thank a potential lead every time they get back to you. “Thank them for their time, for their e-mails, for information they shared with you,” Mouton says. “A simple thanks will get you in many doors and cost you nothing.”
What do you do to close the deal?
Learn more in OPEN Forum's Sales Check-In 2012 series
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