By Andy Paul firstname.lastname@example.org
Persistence is a valuable characteristic to have if you’re a salesperson. Persistence is about refusing to give up even in the face of adversity. And, as we all know, there can be a lot of adversity in selling.
But persistence in itself has no value to your customers, or to you, if it is wrongly applied. Persistence can be perceived as annoying and as time-wasting by your prospect, thereby dooming any chance you have to earn their trust, and their business, in the future.
One key to effective follow-up is Value-based Persistence . Value-based Persistence is a technique any seller can utilize to effectively stay in touch with prospects until the timeframe for your sales cycle and their buying cycle are in alignment.
The problem that many salespeople have is maintaining a balanced approach to persistent follow-up. You want to stay in touch with your prospects but you don’t want impose a constant full-court press on them. Remember that you are nurturing your relationship with the prospect. You want to stay in communication but prospects will continue to take your calls or respond to your email only if you take pains to ensure that each communication contains something of value for them. That means the information you provide has to serve a specific purpose, it has to have impact, and it has to respect the customer’s time and yours.
4 Simple Steps to Implement Value-based Persistence
1. Identify and gather all the critical pieces of information that your prospect requires to make an informed decision to purchase your product or service. Don’t guess. Make a list. Identify all the essential data that a standard qualified prospect will need to use to make a fully informed decision buy your product. Make sure that it is in a form that can be presented or reviewed independently by the prospect. White papers, case studies, media coverage, product announcements, testimonials, webinars, videos, and seminars are just a few examples of the kinds of information that can create value for the customer.
2. Review each item on the list for its Quantifiable Value. Does the information you gathered create value for the customer? Don’t guess or assume that it will. Write down the value. What questions does it answer? What context does it create for the information you’ve supplied the prospect? Can the prospect use it to learn something important or essential about how they would use your product? Does it provide information that will help the customer do business more effectively? Or help make a better decision?
Note: The information you provide as part of Value-based Persistence has to clearly differentiate you from your competition or the entrenched supplier. The customer doesn’t want to hear that you are just as good as the other guys. If you are just one more mindless seller of a me-too product, then the customer won’t have time for you. Give them a reason to engage with you. Give them a reason to listen.
3. Develop a delivery schedule to provide the information to the customer. You don’t want to deliver the information to the customer all at once, of course. Since you know the chronology in which the information will be useful in the prospect’s information gathering, create a schedule for delivering it and enter it in your CRM system. Use the reminders to stay in sync with the customer.
4. Use intelligent tools to help deliver content to your prospect. Don’t rely just on emails or phone calls to provide the information to the customer. Look at new collaborative selling tools like Postwire and SalesCrunch that enable you to simply create private information collections for your prospects. Customers receive email notifications when you add additional content to their collections. You can also track which of the information the customer viewed and how much time they spent on a particular page.
Follow these steps and then be persistent. It may take weeks or months for some opportunities to mature to the point where the customer was ready to engage and move forward to a decision. I’ve had to persistently nurture some deals for years to reach that point. But when that day arrived, I had, to a large degree, already pre-sold the customer on my solution through the valuable information I had provided along the way.
Andy Paul is author of the award-winning book, Zero-Time Selling: 10 Essential Steps to Accelerate Every Company’s Sales. A frequent speaker, Andy conducts workshops and consults with B2B sales teams of all sizes and shapes to teach them how to sell more by selling faster. Sign up for our monthly newsletter, “The Speed of Selling.” Enjoy what you just read? Subscribe to our blog!
© Andy Paul 2012