Last time we talked about when to follow up.
Now, let’s tackle how to follow up and give some real life suggestions of what to say – when you ‘call back’.
Let’s start with – ‘mind set’.
Well, let’s actually start with what our mind set shouldn’t be.
Here are the thoughts that shouldn’t be going through your head when you’re dialing the phone:
I hope our price is ok.
I hope our proposal is ok.
they’ve called our references.
I hope they checked it out with their boss.
ALL of the above (price, proposal, tasks, why you’re the best choice for the job) – SELLING, should have already been started/covered/tackled when the bid was delivered right? – Right.
Now – back to ‘hope’.
Hope is fine, I guess – but it’s horrible as a business strategy.
In fact, if you’re hoping the response you’re going to hear on follow up calls is going to be…
‘Oh, lucky day! I’m so glad you called me. I was anxiously waiting for your call – in fact, I’ve been meaning to call you. You’re hired!’
…don’t hold your breath.
Don’t get me wrong – it happens, but only slightly more than hearing:
‘We think you’re fantastic, you’re hired and you can start anytime,… BUT you’re price seemed a little low -we were wondering if you’d wouldn’t like to raise it up a bit, you know, just to build in a little cushion.’
That’s right, not often.
Maybe it’s us… but more times than we’d care to remember, here’s how we got the job:
‘THE call’ would come in at say, 5 PM on Friday – explaining they’d already fired the other cleaning service – so, they have no one to clean and need us to start TONIGHT.
So, if your prospect isn’t anxiously waiting by the phone, thinking of you, hoping you’ll call so they can award you the contract – BUT RATHER, often – decides and calls in their own time, on their own schedule – WHAT is the follow up call really for anyway?
Again, some will tell you it’s to push for the sale.
Not us. We want them to want us, not to be ‘strong armed’ into hiring us. So, wanted our follow up call to say (NOT in these words but in the meaning)
Hey there, prospective customer, it’s me, the cleaning guy. I know both of our schedules are very busy, but you’re important to me. So, I scheduled a reminder to get back in touch to ‘pick things up where we left off’.
I know you were going to do some ‘homework’ on your end such as checking references, talking to your boss, comparing prices etc..’ and,
I wanted to see how that went and answer any final questions so we can, if possible move forward.’
NOTE: What I don’t want to do is give the impression I’ve been thinking of them constantly and am dying to hear whether or not they’re going to hire us.
So, if you do want to follow up, but you don’t want to sound “desperate”, what can you say that sounds helpful yet confident?
Well, how about something like this…
Hey Steve, this is Doug at ABC Commercial Cleaning. I had a note ‘pop up’ this morning before I headed out of the office for appointments, reminding me to give you a quick shout – just to check in with you – you know, see how things were going on the cleaning plan we had looked at together.
Note: This approach sends the message that while they are important, you do want their business, and you are interested in moving them towards a decision, you are NOT desperate.
Instead, it suggests that your business, like theirs, is successful and that you’re busy handling appts. etc..
In fact, it suggests that rather than anxiously waiting for them to call or helplessly ‘counting the minutes’ until they make a decision, a scheduled computer note reminded you to call them to follow up on their progress.
We find this approach does several important things:
1. It positions you as a busy, successful business person they’d like to do work with.
2. It shows them you are a professional and interested in being available for them to answer questions, but without putting too much pressure on them to decide this minute.
3. It gives them a gentle ‘poke in the ribs’ to get moving on your proposal..
By the way, here’s what I often heard from the prospect when I used this approach:
Oh, I’m sorry, things have been crazy here, and I just haven’t had time to look at it.’
To which I might respond….
‘Steve, heck, don’t worry about it at all… I know how you feel, we’ve been growing like crazy here too…
In fact, that’s kind of the reason I called.
I’ve got two new businesses wanting us to get them started sometime the end of this month, and another one for early next month, so we’re getting pretty full.
I just thought I’d check to see if you were looking at making a change anytime soon, because if you wanted me to I could try to hold a week if you were thinking of making a change, or just to see if you had any questions.
You’d be surprised how many times the prospect, who at first wasn’t interested, changes their minds and ‘gets interested’.
People are ‘funny’.
Thanks Willem, yes, sometimes hard to know the 'rhyme or reason' on these things, so like to Boy Scouts say, best to 'Be Prepared' By the way, your posts continue to be incredibly insightful. Thanks for the time/thought/effort it must take to write and/or record them. Dan
Great post Dan, as always. I forget how many time people want you to start “straight away” when they have had the proposal for months. I suppose it’s because “it’s only cleaning” That’s why it’s so important to look at yourself as a professional. Not “just a cleaner” Keep up the great work. Hope you are well!