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after the seventh “no”

Most sales completed
after the seventh “no”

It takes five to 10 exposures (follow-ups) to a prospect to make the first sale. The prospect may not actually say no seven times, but each time you follow up and the prospect doesn’t buy, he or she is saying: “Not now, buddy; do something else for me; I’m still shopping around; I haven’t met with my partner; try again later; in short, you haven’t sold me yet.” As a professional salesperson, you better have what it takes to persevere through the follow-up process and not quit. Be willing to put forth the effort to get to the seventh no, or consider taking a job with a salary.
Here are some follow-up guidelines to ensure early closing success:
–Know your prospect’s hot buttons (things you think will make the prospect buy), and work with them in constructing your follow-up plan.
–Present new information relative to the sale.
–Be creative in your style and presentation manner.
–Be sincere about your desire to help the customer first, and the commission second.
–Be direct in your communication. Beating around the bush will only frustrate the prospect (and probably cause him or her to buy elsewhere). Answer all questions. Don’t patronize the prospect.
–Be friendly. People like to buy from friends.
–Use humor. Be funny. People love to laugh. Making your prospect laugh is a great way to establish common ground and rapport.
–When in doubt, sell benefits.
–Don’t be afraid to ask for the sale. If there were a formula for following up it would be: New information plus creative plus sincere plus direct plus friendly plus humor equals sale. But there isn’t an exact formula. Every follow-up is different, and elements from the above guidelines must be chosen as called for.
Here are a few lead-in lines you might try so that you don’t feel uneasy about how to start the conversation:
–I thought of a few things that might help you decide …
–Something new has occurred that I thought you would like to know about …
–There has been a change in status …
–I was thinking about you, and called to see if you had any questions …
Don’t say: “I called to see if you got my letter, info or whatever.” It sounds dumb and it gives the prospect a way out. If she doesn’t want to talk to you, she’ll say, “No, I never got it.” Where does that leave you? Nowhere.
Why not try: “I sent you some (name the stuff) the other day and I wanted to go over a couple of things with you personally, because they weren’t self- explanatory.”
It’s likely you won’t bug the prospect if: he’s a salesperson also; you have something new, creative or funny to say; you’re short and to the point; he’s genuinely interested in your product or service; he returns your calls right away; or, he likes you.
It’s likely you will bug the prospect if you: call more than three times without a returned call; ask dumb or pushy questions (probably because you didn’t listen well in the first place); are perceived as insincere; exert pressure too soon or too often; or, are in any way rude to the prospect or anyone on his staff.
Follow-up is another word for persistence. Your ability to follow up will determine your success in sales. Ask any professional salesperson the secret for success, he or she will answer persistence.
(Jeffrey Gitomer, president of Charlotte, N.C.-based Business Marketing Solutions, is author of “The Sales Bible.” He can be reached at 1-800-242-5388.)

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