Keeping Promises is Crucial in Business
Throughout the sales process, your customer will need things from you. This might be a document, some analysis, a reference or case study, or anything else. As a sales person you will almost instinctively say “yes” and agree to deliver them what they want. Then, after you hang up the phone or leave the meeting you may find yourself so caught up in the excitement of moving the customer to the next stage in your sales funnel and forget to follow up on their requests. Big mistake. When a customer asks something of you, you need to not only deliver, but deliver more than they expect. Keeping promises and exceeding a customer’s expectations before a deal has closed leaves a very strong impression of not only you as an individual, but of your company, culture and work ethic.
Here are 5 tips to help you keep promises and exceed expectations.
1. Take Good Notes
During your meeting or phone call with the customer, make sure you take excellent notes. This should include things like the customer’s objectives, changes since the last conversation, any objections that need to be overcome and, any actions that need to be followed up on as a result of the conversation. For example, if the customer asks you to arrange a call between them and a suitable reference customer, jot this down in your notebook as ‘Arrange call between customer and reference to cover…. (some specific query)’. This action item needs to stand out from the surrounding notes. To make it stand out, put a tick-box in the margin of your notebook.
The action item itself needs to be as specific as possible. If it’s security information the customer is after, simply adding an action item of ‘Send security info to customer’ will not suffice. Understand what specifically about security the customer is interested in and hone in on that. This will make your job easier, allowing to you grab a certain document, rather than a mix of many documents. It will also make life easier for your customer since they know what to expect.
2. Review any action items
As soon as you get back to your desk, or straight after you finish the call, go over your notes. Type them up in a program like Evernote. Group together all your action items at the end of the note and, if you’re using Evernote, add a tick-box for each of them. Typing up your notes makes you review the entire conversation again in your head and gives you the opportunity to expand on the shorthand notes you made during the conversation. If you use a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) make sure you also copy these notes into the History section against the appropriate customer record (it will likely be a Lead or Opportunity record).
3. Do it now!
Don’t hesitate. Act on your list while it’s at the top of your mind. Go through each action item on by one and do it. In the above example, you would immediate contact the reference customer to arrange the call. The key is to gather all the information you need in order to respond to each and every one of the action items as quickly as possible. Selling requires momentum. The quicker you can respond to your customer, the better the probability you have of succeeding. Your goal is to respond to the customer’s queries while the queries are still fresh in their mind. Don’t delay! Go through your action list and do them right away.
Simply responding with exactly what the customer needs isn’t enough. You need to go beyond. This will further concrete your position in the customer’s mind as someone that will consistently go to great lengths in order to help them. If your customer has asked for some documentation on security, say, then not only should you provide them with security documentation specific to the nature of their enquiry, but also summarize the key points that are relevant to them, point them to further information if needed, and if possible, plant the seed of doubt that your competitors are unable to provide such detail or service (without being blunt about it – there is a fine art to persuasion of this kind).
5. Confirm the expected outcome
After all your follow up items have been completed, you need to make sure that the customer is satisfied with the outcome. A simple phone call will achieve this. Don’t send an email. Your customer likely received hundreds of emails per day. so your email can easily be overlooked. Pick up the phone and talk to the customer. Ask questions that will help you identify any other nuances that may be preventing the customer from moving to the next stage in the sales process. Use this conversation to perhaps schedule a follow up meeting or call to further discuss the material you have provided. In many cases, the customer would rather be doing something productive than reading the documentation you may have provided. By scheduling time to go through it together, you make sure that even if the customer doesn’t read any of it, you’ve got your point across and you can further cement the relationship.