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Q3/2013 Follow Up as a Trusted Advisor

follow up

noun

An action or thing that serves to increase the effectiveness of a previous one, as a second or subsequent letter, phone call, or visit.

If this definition is to be believed, the purpose of follow up is to “increase the effectiveness” of something you’ve done prior. In sales, there are dozens of “actions” or “things” that, with proper follow up, lead to this increased effectiveness—and eventually, to additional revenue to the salesperson. The trick is understanding the importance of follow up, who’s doing it, what they’re getting in return, and, on the flip-side, who’s not doing it—and at what cost.

Why make that first phone call if you don’t plan on making a second? Why promise a prospect that you’ll get with your technical presales team to put together a solution package if you have no intention of doing it? The point is, in any sales cycle, many promises are made. Those promises that are accompanied by world-class follow up usually are the ones that set themselves apart from the competition. That last sentence includes the words “world-class” for a reason. Many times, that adjective is used to describe “customer service.” Is not following up a subset of “customer service?” So maybe the “customer” isn’t a “customer” yet, they still need service. The time to establish the world-class customer service isn’t when your customer becomes a customer. It starts early on when they’re still a suspect.

The return on your investment from following up from day one is measured in how you separate yourself from the pack, how you build a strong relationship of trust with your suspects, prospects, and eventually, customers, and it shows in recurrent revenue streams. “Make that extra call, visit, or follow up email, then sit back and watch the returns come in,” says Randall Ball, a business owner in Boise, Idaho. Miss that opportunity to follow up, and you may not only have missed that chance, but someone else may have filled the void you left.

So how do the subject-matter experts in following up do it? It starts with a plan, but it takes root with measured, directed response—all in timetable that exceeds expectations. Take time to look at your sales funnel. Where are you in the sales cycle with each of your suspects and prospects? What about your customers? When was the last time you touched them? Consistent, meaningful contact with each of these groups paints you as a trusted advisor—and helps you avoid being cast as “that rep who’s just looking for a fast buck.”

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