I was in a fascinating discussion the other day. We are talking about “conventional sales wisdom,” (which I would retitle, Stupid Techniques We All Feel For). The topic of conversation was, “How do we create excuses to keep coming back to the customer? How do we keep the door open for yet another meeting?”
There were all sorts of techniques I recall being taught in my early sales training. Take them a piece of collateral, a case study, anything that would provoke another meeting or discussion. References–rather than anticipating the need for references and bringing them to a meeting, use the excuse, “I’ll research that and get back to you with some great references,” as the excuse for getting back to see the customer.
This mentality still exists with too many sales people, “What excuse do I have to get back to see a customer?” Many, build that excuse into their call plans (if they have one).
This thinking is absolutely backwards and wrong. Creating excuses to get back in to see the customer doesn’t create value. In the end it wastes their time, with the inevitable consequence that each subsequent attempt becomes much more difficult.
It also wastes our time!
Our thinking needs to be just the opposite, “How do we reduce the number of calls we need to make in order for the customer to make a decision?” We should be developing our sales and call strategies to compress our sales cycle, making the fewest calls possible to close.
We need to make sure each call creates value for the customer, using their time well and helping them move through the sales cycle.
What about getting back in? Well well planned and executed sales calls will result in commitments and actions on both the part of sales and the customer. We no longer need the excuse. These commitments and actions create the need for the next meeting or call. Because the customer has complete ownership and engagement in the process, we no longer need an excuse. The next steps create a value based reason for the next call–if one is needed. The customer will welcome these calls because they create value and help them move through their buying process.
Get rid of the old thinking–create greater value for the customer, use the customers’ and your time more impactfully and effectively. No excuses will be needed and the customer will welcome the next call.