SPECIAL REPORT: How to Make the. Special Report: How to Make The Perfect Follow Up Call. How to Make the. Perfect Follow Up Call

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1 REPORT The Top 10 Voice Mail Blunders Special Report: How to Make The Perfect Follow Up Call How to Make the 8 Steps to Converting More Prospects to Sales By Jim Domanski Perfect Teleconcepts Consulting Follow Inc. Up Call SPECIAL REPORT: How to Make the Perfect Follow Up Call When you think about it, the cold call is really a piece of cake. The tougher call is the follow up call. The follow up call is where you really begin to show value and worth. It is here that the ultimate decision to buy or to move forward in the sale takes place. This Report shows you precisely what to do to make a perfect follow up call SPECIAL REPORT: How to Make the Perfect Follow Up Call to Make the Perfect Follow Up Call 0

2 8 Simple Steps to Making a Perfect Follow Up Call Gets you noticed and remembered by the client which increases the chances they will take your call In many ways, a follow up call to a prospect is more challenging than a cold call. Typically, it s the follow up call that really gets the sales cycle rolling. It s here where value truly begins to manifest itself and where substantive information is gathered. Finally, it s at this point where the relationship begins to establish itself. So that s why it is vital to have superb follow up strategies and tactics so that you can make the most of the moment. This Special Report will give you those strategies and tactics but more importantly, it will give you the process by which to implement them. In effect, you will have a game plan complete with scripts, templates, and timeframes to make your follow up efficient and effective. A well planned and implemented follow up program will help you: Ensure that you have serious prospects and avoid time wasters Differentiate yourself from your competitors and give yourself an edge Creates a sense of value and importance in you and your company Helps get the client to open up and talk further regarding their needs Here are eight tips to making a perfect follow up call. 1 Tip #1: Get commitment for the follow up Perhaps the single biggest mistake reps make is not establishing a specific date and time for the follow up call at the end of their initial call. Vague commitments from the prospects ( call me next week ) or the sales rep ( I ll send the proposal and follow up in a couple of days ) result in missed calls, voice mail messages and ultimately a longer sales cycle. To make a perfect call you need perfect commitment. There are two steps to getting perfect commitment: 1. Ask for a specific date for your follow up call, and 2. Ask for a specific time 1

3 Here s an example: Jesse, I ll be glad to write up the proposal (quote, whatever) and e- mail it to you. And what I would like to recommend is that we set up Tuesday, the 16 th, at say, 8:45 to review it in detail and determine the next steps if any. How does that sound? your chance and hope you get me, or words to that effect, warning bells should start ringing. The last thing you want to do is work on a quote or proposal if the client is not truly interested. That s an utter waste of time and effort. PERFECT TIP: Draw a Line in the Sand Technique PERFECT TIP: Note the time in the example. By asking for an appointment on the quarter hour (e.g., 10:15 or 3:45) you increase your odds of the call being taken if only because it is slightly unusual or different. Many people will jot this time down in the Blackberry or in Outlook or on a planner so they don t forget. (But also notice it is not so unusual as to be peculiar e.g., 2:10). Suppose the client balks at your follow up date and time. Be proactive and maintain control of the situation by suggesting an alternative date and time. For example, No problem, how does Wednesday, the 17 th look at 11:45? If that doesn t work you need to wonder if the times are not good or if the client is not committed to the next step in the selling process. Simply ask the prospect when a good follow up date and time might be. If the client is interested, he will give you an alternative date. If he says something broad like, Call Thursday, offer a specific time using the quarter hour method. If the client still balks and says something like, You ll just have to take Here s how you determine if the prospect is interested or not. Use this template, Jesse, I m a bit reluctant to send out a proposal if we cannot set up a specific date or time to discuss it and to determine the next steps, if any. If now is not the time to examine how we can reduce your costs and improve productivity, I understand completely. And what I would like to recommend is that perhaps I call you next quarter to determine if your situation has changed. This is a magnificent technique because it politely and professional draws a line in the sand. Those who are not really interested and who were simply blowing you off can now gracefully say, Ya, I think next quarter would be better. While not the best of news it saves you time and effort developing a proposal not to mention the time and effort to make useless follow up calls. It does something else, too. It positions the time you spend on the proposal and the time you spend on the follow up as valuable. If they truly are keen about moving forward, they ll get the message and give you a specific date and time. 2

4 3 2 Tip #2: Build equity and be remembered Here s another huge tip. After every call to a first time prospect, send a thank you card. Handwrite a message on small thank you card that simply says, John, thank you for taking the time speaking with me today. I look forward to chatting with you further on the 16 th! Kind regards... No more, no less. In today s fast paced world, a hand written card tells the client that you took the time and the effort to do something a little different. At some level, this registers in the client s mind and creates a degree of equity in you. It differentiates you and it gets remembered. And it gives the client a reason to be there when you make you follow up call. What about an ? If you don t think a card will get there in time, send an with the same note. But just be aware that an does not have nearly the same impact as a handwritten note. To create a little more impact, make your subject line a little more personal. For example, John, quick note to say thanks Personalizing the subject line inevitably catches the eye of the reader. Adding the thank you within the subject line also creates an impression, albeit brief. If the client does nothing more than glance at the subject line and skips the message, your effort has at least been noted. PERFECT TIP: Don t Sully the Moment As for the content of the message make it as brief and compact as you would in the written thank you note. But, whatever you do, DO NOT reference your company or product or anything else marketing or sales related! The note is about the client, NOT about you, your product your company. Don t sully the moment with anything else. (PERFECT TIP) See Page 6 for more information on how to use notes in your follow up process) 3 Tip #3: a reminder and an agenda The day before your follow up call, send an to your prospect to remind them of your appointment. In the subject line, enter the words: John, regarding our telephone appointment for August16th and article of interest. Note that the subject line acts as a reminder but it is vague enough that the prospect will probably open it. There is a hint that maybe the date and time has changed. Also, again note the use of the prospect/clients first name in the subject line. This is vital, it not only catches

5 4 John s eye it increases the open and read rate. Your should confirm the date and time of the appointment, remind the client of what motivated him or her to agree to the appointment, and then provide a brief agenda. For example, Emily, Just a quick note to confirm our appointment tomorrow morning at 10:45 to review the proposal I sent on how we can generate additional revenues for your firm at no cost to you whatsoever. The call should only take 10 minutes. After the review, I ll answer any questions you might have, and then we ll determine the next steps, if any. The prospect is reminded why she committed to the appointment (generate additional revenues at no cost). It is vital that you tweak the motivators to help entice the client to show up for the call. The agenda is a nice touch. It tells the client that this will not be a long drawn out affair. (Again, another reason for her to take your call.) In particular, notice the trigger phrase...the next steps, if any. The if any will help reduce some of the stress or concern your prospect might have. Often they skip out on the follow up call because they are worried that they ll have to make a commitment. This is a common and natural reaction for many prospects. Knowing this means you can take steps to mitigate it. If the prospect senses an easy, informal, no pressure type of phone call, he is more likely to show up on time for that call. 4 Tip #4: Add value in a PS Notice in the subject line there is a reference to an article. At the end of your add a P.S. that says, Emily, in the meantime, here s an article I thought you might enjoy regarding... The article may be about your industry, the market, a product or better yet, something non-business related that you had discussed in your initial call. This creates tremendous value even it the client does not open it. Why? Because you took the time to do something extra. This helps get you remembered and gives the client yet another reason to take your follow up call. Of course, this means you have to do some homework. Start looking on the web for articles of interest and value relative to your market, industry etc. Keep a file of these articles because they can be used repeatedly. PERFECT TIP: Something Personal If you really want to make an impression in your PS, then try to relate your link or article to something personal about the client. Of course, this assumes the prospect opened up and shared something with you. That doesn t always happen but if they do, try to apply it. For example,

6 suppose in passing the prospect mentions something about attending a barbeque on the weekend. If so, get on the internet, find a BBQ rub recipe and it or provide a link to it in the PS. It might say, Emily, here s a special BBQ rub recipe you might like to have handy for the weekend to help spice things up. Enjoy! other commitments (e.g., delivery times) might be in jeopardy too. PERFECT TIP: Use Alarms What this really means is that you MUST use the alarms or appointment notifications on your cell phones, or software or whatever. This may be a no brainer tip but it is critical. Make no mistake about it, the prospect will be gob smacked that you listened, remembered and catered to that personal tidbit. 5 Tip #5: Call on time Don t start your relationship on the wrong foot. Call on time. Never, ever be late with your follow up call. Not even by a minute. The promptness and respect you show on a follow up call reflects on you, your company and your products. This is especially true if you used the quarter hour technique. If you said you were going to call at 10:45 you can bet there are clients who will check the clock to see if you met your commitment. People might argue that five minutes late here and there is no big deal. Wrong. It is. At a subconscious or conscious level in can create a negative impression. For instance, if you can t meet your follow up commitment on time, it suggests Tip #6: 6 Avoid opening statement blunders that most sales reps make Here is where so many tele-sales reps stumble and fall: their opening statements are weak. Here some of the classic follow up opening statements blunders: I was calling to follow up on the proposal. I am calling to see if you had any questions. I just wanted to make sure you got my . The reason for my follow up was to see if you had come to a decision. It is not that these opening statements are poor but rather it s that they re routine, commonplace and mediocre. They do nothing to position you or differentiate you from all the other sales reps that make follow up calls. What this really means is that you are perceived as yet another run of the mill vendor looking for a sale. 5

7 A weak opening statement may not lose you the sale but it certainly starts you off on the wrong foot. Why do that? Why make your follow up as bland and vanilla-like as all the rest when you have the opportunity to set yourself apart. You need a little more pizzazz. Tip #7: Build a 7 follow up opening statement that gets through the clutter. A good opening statement for a follow up call that goes pop has four simple components. 1. State Your Full Name This is almost too easy but don t get complacent. Remember, you probably one of many vendors. Calling us and saying, Hey Bob, it s Jim calling is presumptuous and dangerous. The prospect might have completely forgotten your call despite your efforts. It happens. Telling them it s Jim is somewhat informal and it can be embarrassing. They might know three or four Jims. Suddenly they are trying to place you and as while they are doing that, they re not listening. Bad start. 2. State Your Company Name For the same reasons as above, identify your company. They may not remember. Make sure you do it. Make that opener user friendly. 3. Remind the prospect why you are calling and the motivators that led to this stage Step #3 is where you differentiate yourself and create that competitive edge, that little something that impresses the prospect. It s simple. Start by explaining to the prospect why you are calling by reminding him/her about what prompted the follow up call in the first place. You do this by referencing the motivators /needs that you identified in your initial calls. It means referencing the pain or the gain that was previously uncovered. For instance, Kathy, this is Michael Sterling calling from ABC Training. Kathy, when we spoke last week you had two concerns. First, you indicated that you were worried about having your current on-line training program renewed automatically before you had a chance to review it in detail, and second, that there were several modules whose content was questionable and that they might have a quality control impact with your customers. Michael reminds Kathy why she agreed to this call. He does this because he knows that clients are busy; that they forget; or that the urgency of last week may not seem so urgent this week. So he scratches at the scab. 4. Provide an agenda The final component to your opener is to provide an agenda of what you d like to accomplish with the call. Kathy, what I would like to recommend at this stage is two things. First, we review those 6

8 modules that have you so concerned, and second, we ll take a closer look at the current contract. Then we ll determine the next steps, if applicable. How does that sound? Clients like a clear, concise agenda. They want a vendor who is organized and doesn t waste their time. They want someone to takes control and moves the call forward. This gives them confidence. Notice the question at the end of the last example. The rep seeks the clients approval for the game plan he has established. This not only gets the prospect involved, it also gives her the opportunity to modify or change the approach to the call. PERFECT TIP: Minimize fear Take note of how the rep repeats a theme that he established in the first call and in his follow up . He indicates that they will determine the next steps if applicable. It s a nice touch and reduces client resistance by minimizing the fear of being sold. 8 not a pest Tip # 8: No Answer? Be persistent, polite and professional but If you follow this formula, about 70% of the time the client is there waiting for your call. But, that leaves 30% who are not for one reason or another. So here s what to do: Leave a Message First, leave a message so that she knows YOU called on time. For example, Hi Kathy, it s from calling for our 8:45 appointment. Sounds like you might be tied up for a few moments. I ll call in 10 minutes if I haven t heard from you. In the meantime, my number is Call Back in 10 Minutes Second, call back in exactly ten minutes. This tells the client that you are not only persistent but you continue to keep your word. Leave another message Third, if the prospect is still not there leave another message such as this: Hi Kathy, it s from, following up on our 8:45 appointment. Looks like you re still tied up. Please give me a call when you re free at , otherwise I will call you later this morning or early this afternoon. Wait for 3-4 hours So far, you ve been persistent without being a pest. Now, give the prospect a chance to call back. This is the tough part because every fiber in your body will be yearning to call every twenty minutes. A good rule of thumb is a half a day. Three to four hours is plenty of time and space for the prospect to call you and more importantly, it doesn t make you look desperate or annoying. There could 7

9 be any number of reasons why the prospect did not take your call so you have to let nature take its course and see what happens. Leave another message The fifth thing you should do if you haven t heard from the client in 3-4 hours is to call again. You have earned the right to call back and leave another message. embarrassed that they may have forgotten the appointment. Another saving grace technique is the phrase I may have messed up the time for the appointment so if I have please forgive me. Of course, you didn t mess up, the prospect did. But by shouldering the responsibility you are making it easier for the prospect to call back. In addition, this ploy ever so slightly creates a sense of guilt on behalf of the prospect for not giving you the courtesy of a return call. This might convince some of your prospects to respond. But the trick here is to play humble by suggesting that maybe you made a mistake in the follow up time. Kathy, it s from I called a couple of times today but as of yet we have not been able to connect regarding our 8:45 appointment. I am not certain but I may have messed up the time for the appointment so if I have please forgive me. Would you please give me a call and we can reschedule another time to discuss the concerns you had about the contract and the module content? My number is. Notice how the reps reminds the client of the appointment at 8:45 but does not make her feel guilty or embarrassed by using the phrase... but as of yet we have not been able to connect. It vaguely implies that perhaps the prospect tried to call back but was unable to reach the rep. This saving grace technique can be very effective for the prospect who is a little Finally, notice that the rep reminds the client about their early talks and the pain the prospect was experiencing. In effect, he wants Kathy to think, Oh... ya...that contract is nagging me...i better get back to him. Other tips and tactics Give the above message time to work. Again, the rule of thumb is half a day. You don t want to harass your prospect but if there is no reply after a few hours, you can do a few other things: Use the Receptionist. At this point, don t be shy to call the receptionist or admin and ask if the prospect is in today. This will tell you a lot. If they are not, then the missed call was legitimate. If they are in, well be skeptical but hold off on the panic. Call Display? Sometimes the prospect is dodging your call but you never really know for sure. There could be any number of reasons that cause the delay and you need to find out. The real culprit at this stage may be call display. The prospect sees the number and does 8

10 not pick up the phone. Here are a couple of things you can do: is staggering. Don t be a part of this statistic. Use your cell phone. If you have a cell phone, use it. The prospect won t recognize the number and may pick up. Call from a pay phone. This powerful little technique means you have to leave the building and go for a walk. Find a coffee shop, get a coffee and call from a pay phone. This tactic works like a charm. If the prospect is there, they will answer. Who wouldn t? If they ask you about the pay phone, tell them the truth: you were getting a coffee and decided to make a quick call. Call a neighboring extension. If your prospect is at extension 432 and you do not get an answer, try extensions 431 or 433. The phones and the offices might be in sequence. If you get a hold of someone explain that you are trying to reach your prospect and ask if they d take a quick look to see if he s available. If prospect is there, you ll know. Ask the neighbor to transfer the call. You will either get the prospect or not. Either way you will have a better understanding of things. Implications If these techniques don t work it suggests that the prospect has lost interest or never had any interest at all and was simply blowing you off. Discouraging, yes, but at least you know and you can honestly say you did everything you could. That s more than most reps. Studies vary but typically over 95% of sales reps quit following up after the second call. This Parting Shots: The 4/3 Strategy Depending on the nature and value of your sale, you might want to continue to follow up using a combination of voice mail and . If you sale has a high dollar value and/or your prospect is a higher level executive, you should probably be more persistent. Big sales take time and executives are busy with other projects. If you don t make your sale a priority, they won t either. The 4/3 Strategy is a process of making four more follow up contacts, two by voice mail and two by . Why four? Because it is thorough and relatively easy to implement. It shows your persistence without going overboard. These four contacts are spaced three business days apart. Why three? Three business days gives the prospect plenty of time to return your call. It also creates a reasonable gap between contacts so that it doesn t appear you are stalking. Integrate your messages as follows: Step 1: Contact Send a short suggesting a time when you can talk further. Your subject line should feature the client s first name and some reference to a pain or a gain that you discovered in your very first call. Re: Rick, strategies to manage decrease in quarterly profits 9

11 You message should be short and to the point, Re: Rick, further to profitability issue Rick, I d like to reschedule a follow up time to continue our discussion regarding the drop in your quarterly profits and some of the strategies we have that can help change the trend. Please me when might be a good time or give me a call at (xxx-xxx-xxxx). Regards That s it. No fuss. No muss. To the point. No recrimination. Professional Sit back and wait, three business days. Step #2: Voice Mail Follow Up: Hi Rick, it s calling from. The reason for my call is to follow up on my from the other day and to reschedule our telephone call so we can continue our conversation regarding your drop in profitability over the last quarter and the strategies you can implement to counter the down swing. My number is. Note the message is almost identical to the . You are hammering home a theme: you ve got a problem (profits) and I have strategies to help. Wait three more business days. Step #3: Contact Your subject line is slightly different but the theme remains the same. For example, The message treatment however changes: Hi Rick, I have left you a couple of messages regarding setting up a time to speak regarding the issues we discussed about low profitability but as of yet, we have not been able to connect. Please give ma a call at so we can reschedule our call. The key phrase is one that was used earlier: but as of yet we have not been able to connect. It s a polite way of saying you haven t replied. If the prospect hasn t responded this phrase makes it a little easier for them to do so because it implies he may have tried to call back but was unsuccessful. Wait three more business days. Step #4: Final Follow Up Message This is sometimes known as the last gasp message. In effect, it is telling the client that no more calls will be made. It looks like this: Hi Rick, I am following up on our telephone discussion regarding our discussion on your low profits for the past quarter. I have left a few messages but it would seem that now is not the time to discuss strategies to improve your overall profitability. 10

12 11 If that s the case, I understand completely and what I would like to do is follow up next quarter. If anything should change between now and then, please feel free to contact me. The message is clear: you ll stop calling. But it doesn t burn a bridge. You have left the door open to future follow up calls. If the prospect is interested but has simply been swamped, this is the time that he will call. If not, well you ve done a heck of a job in being professionally persistent and polite. Summary Having solid follow up strategies and tactics will separate you from the dozens of other sales reps who call the same prospects as you. This gives you a distinctive edge. The key to success is having a process that you can plug and play. By having templates, scripts and timeframes you ll be far more effective and efficient. Make the most of your follow up calls and watch your sales grow. A Noteworthy Sales Strategy How to Use Notes to Follow Up, Build Value and Generate More Sales How would you like a little something that would help set you apart from your competition? Something that gets you noticed? Something that gives you a distinct edge? Something simple, different and easy to implement that makes selling just a bit easier, faster and more effective? The solution may be as simple and as powerful as a written note. What is a Note? A note is something tangible that you send to your prospects and customers that help keep your name in the forefront. A note could be a thank you card, a post card, a brief paragraph on a piece of stationary or even a simple Post-It note attached to a clipping or an article. For the most part, they tend to be hand written which tends to convey a personal touch. The Power of Notes Notes may be old school but they are a rarity and that s precisely what makes them so effective. In today s busy, fast paced, technology oriented market a simple note says several things to your clients. It says that you took the time and effort to write. It says this is important and that they (your clients) are important. Typically, notes evoke a Wow in the mind of the recipient that an will never, ever do. Notes are classy little items. They distinguish you. They stand out. They get noticed. Because of their personal nature and because they have a tangible quality, people have a tough time throwing them out. There seems to be something rude about tossing a note particularly a thank you card- into the garbage. So people tend to cling to them and when

13 12 they cling to them they are, in effect, clinging to you. Consequently, notes are remembered. For instance, a handwritten thank you note that comes in a handwritten envelop with a good old-fashioned stamp is unique and is not quickly forgotten. Another peculiar thing about notes is that they have a pass around quality. Often a recipient tells others that they received a card. They show it to others or tack at them up in their work area and sometimes they ll even post them a community bulletin board. Okay, enough with the warm and fuzzy benefits. What notes really do is create the need for the client to reciprocate. When you do something classy and thoughtful and unique, the average client feels a compelling need to respond in kind. For example, because they feel the need to acknowledge you and your gesture clients tend to take your phone call or more readily respond to your e- mails or voice mails. They also help you get past gatekeepers and engage in a conversation with your contact. Speaking with a decision maker is half the battle in selling. Put another way: your contact rate increases. In turn, this increases the opportunity to sell more of your products and services. Some clients will reciprocate by giving referrals. Often they will do this on their own without you asking. But when you do ask, most will go out of their way to give you a referral of some sort. A variation of the referral is a lead. Some clients will point you in the right direct by giving you a tip. Many clients will reciprocate by acting as a reference should you need one. Some will even provide a written testimonial in the form of a letter. Notes can tip the scales in a competitive situation. If you are neck and neck with a competitor the note you send can possibly give you the nod. It certainly can t hurt. And what does this cost you? Maybe a couple of bucks and ten minutes of time. Who Gets Notes Obviously, from an external point of view, you can send notes to customers and prospects. But don t stop there. You can also use the medium to stay in touch or show gratitude to vendors and suppliers who may have provided you with assistance. They are as human as anyone else is and often they are a great source of leads. Internally, notes can and should be used with co-workers, other departments, bosses and others. 7 Ways to Use Notes 1. Thank you cards. If you really want to create an impression, send a thank you card after you get a sale. Everyone else who sells to your clients will give the client a verbal thank you and many will type out an and send it along. But few, if any, will take the time to pen a personal note and give the client a genuine thanks. It s classy. Forget e- mail. is impersonal and gets lost in the dozens of other messages that are sent. Here s another variation. Use a personal note to say thank you when a prospect makes an inquiry or asks for a quote or a

14 proposal. NO ONE bothers to do this. Your prospect will be amazed by the gesture. But the net impact is that they tend to take a closer look at your proposal or quote. They ll often give you the benefit of any doubt. Even if you don t get this sale, you plant the seeds of goodwill for the NEXT sale. 2. Stay in Touch. Use a postcard to stay in touch. We all have clients who we haven t spoken to in a while. A little postcard with a brief note is a superb way of keeping your name front and center. It s a nice way to say Hey, Remember Me? I remember you! At some level your name and the gesture registers and that builds equity in your relationship. 3. Leverage. If the client has hobby or an interest, leverage it and use it as a pre-text for your note. I have a client who is an avid cook. I sent him an Italian cooking magazine after his trip to Italy with a brief note attached. He responded immediately. 4. Clippings and Articles. Here s a powerful application. Attach a hand written note to a clipping or an article. A clipping is something that you find a newspaper, a trade journal, a newsletter or where ever that you send to the client. A note that says, Steve, I thought of you when I saw this article on competitive skiing and thought you might like it, can be far more effective then yet-another-company-productbrochure. 5. Congratulations. Send notes to congratulate your clients, prospects or others if they have achieved something or have been promoted or they are changing jobs. It flatters them. They remember it. For a long time. 6. Follow Up. Use notes as a follow up and to help move the sales cycle along. Sheri, I thought you might find this valuable in your research. 7. Pre-Text. Use notes as a pre-text for calling the client and engaging them. For instance, Kiki, I was calling to follow up on that article in the Economist regarding the decline of the US mortgage market. Did you see that drop in November?! Trust me, this works a heck of a lot better than, Hi Kiki, just calling to check in or some other insipid opener. 12 Tips on How to Make Notes Work for You 1. Your note should be hand written. If this means you have to slow down and write more neatly, then do so. One of the key strengths of a note is that indeed, it does take time. People understand that and they appreciate it. Handwriting also reveals personality and character. This is something you cannot get with an that is rather antiseptic in nature. 2. Keep your notes brief That means less than a page and only a few lines. Brevity ensures that they get read. Your notes then become reader friendly. 3. Think of what you want to say and how you say it. 13

15 I sometime draft my note on a sheet of paper to make sure I have it straight. This takes time too but it is vital. 4. Use a decent pen. Roller ball pens tend to give a better flow to a note. Ballpoint pens tend to look scratchy. 8. Purchase a supply of good quality Thank You cards (over and above cards that your company might provide.) A good name in cards is Crane. You can find them at decent bookstores. 9. Don t use the note as a promotional message. 5. Be sure to address your envelop by hand. Never, ever use a label. Besides being tacky labels dilute the effectiveness of your note because they negate the personal quality you are trying to convey. And more significantly: gatekeepers rarely open (and screen) mail that is hand written. It conveys a message that says this is personal. And it is. 6. Don t use a postal meter. Use a stamp. In fact, go to the post office and ask for those commemorative stamps with characters like Marilyn Monroe, Winston Churchill, and Elvis etc. Why? They draw the eye; everyone notices them and in turn, it gets you noticed. 7. Do not please- use cards that have your logo or company name emblazoned in two-inch letters. This is about the client. Not you. Not your company. Focus on them. A small logo in the lower right corner is fine. It s subdued. Resist all pressure from your marketing department who ll want to make a big production about branding. Use it to convey a thought, gratitude, or a reference to something attached but please don t use it to sell. There s plenty of time for that. A sales message simply takes away from the impression you are trying to create. 10. Insert your card. It s okay to put a card inside on some cards. If the prospect doesn t really know you, insert a card. This is acceptable. 11. Finally, keep track of your notes so you know what you have sent and when. The best way to do this is to create a spreadsheet of all your clients. Put their names down the left side. To the right simply insert the date and the description of what you sent. 12. Lastly, to get the very most out of you note sending campaign you need to combine it will a follow up call. Timing is critical. You want your client to be still feeling the afterglow of your note when they are speaking with you. Make your call within two to three days of anticipated receipt. Leave a voice mail message or an (or both) if you do not reach him/her. You ll be surprised at the response rate. 14

16 Summary Notes are part of the selling puzzle. They do not guarantee a sale or a strong relationship. You still have to have a good product and a value based price. You still have to use your selling skills adroitly. But notes can help because they are different. They add a human touch in a world that is become more and more impersonal. Notes are simple little things that can discretely market you, your company and your products. They are cost effective and easy to implement. They give you an edge. And we can all use an edge The VAA (Value Added Action) How to Quickly and Easily Build Value and Give Yourself an Edge Sometimes your follow up call does not result in a sale. For whatever reason, the prospect delays the decision to buy but doesn t close the door completely. By having a follow up plan you can unobtrusively stay in touch, build value and equity with that client. When they are ready to buy, they ll think of you. This portion of the follow up examines a fast, simple, cost effective and easy to implement way to stay in touch, build value and give you an edge with your customers and prospects. Sound impossible? Not in the least. One of the most effective ways to differentiate you and give yourself a competitive edge is a simple process that I call the VAA Valued Added Article. It s a powerful strategy that works! What is the VAA? On a purely literal level, a value added article is just that: an article, a special report, a white paper, a news clipping from a magazine, a website address, a journal...virtually anything that you provide to your prospect or client so they might derive benefit, pleasure, enjoyment, knowledge, interest, and ultimately value. On a deeper, more subtle level, a VAA is the little something extra that you add to the relationship that shows you were thinking of your prospect or client. It s something that goes above and beyond the norm in terms of selling. It s something that positions you as unique and distinctive. It s something that is seen as a positive and often personable gesture that marks your character. It s something that helps get you remembered. The 2 Types of VAA The first type of VAA is business related. A business VAA is an article, journal, report etc. that relates to a product, a service, the industry or the marketplace that may be applicable to the client. It might be something related specifically to your product or service such as a white paper but this approach has a somewhat self-serving aspect to it. A more effective approach is to provide a third party or independent source of 15

17 information that educates your client. This is seen as an extra bonus and something that the average, run of the mill sales reps does not provide. The second type of VAA is the personal VAA and there are two kinds. The first kind of personal VAA is something that reflects or relates to a hobby, a passion or an interest your client might have. For instance, suppose you learn that your Canadian client is NASCAR fanatic. One day you see an article on a NASCAR event coming to Montreal. Clip it and send it off. Or suppose you discover your prospect is sending her daughter off to Notre Dame to take a history degree. You search for an article on the web about the Faculty of History at Notre Dame and pass it on to your client. Here s the real point: it shows that you listened and that you remembered. It shows you took the time. It shows the client that there is more to the relationship than just a set of transactions. The other kind of personal VAA is something that reflects a hobby, passion or an interest that you might have and would like to share with the client. Suppose you re an avid BBQer. You might send your client a recipe of your favourite rub or an article on 10 Things Every Person Should Know About Smoking Ribs. It s lighthearted gesture. It reveals a little about you and advances the relationship a step or two. Either way, you are doing something that isn t typically done. And that usually gets remembered. It may not guarantee you a sale but it guarantees you an edge. How to Build a VAA Library The trick to making a VAA strategy work for you is to have a library of articles ready and available at your fingertips. From a business perspective, one way to do that is to scan industry trade journals, magazines, e-newsletters, web sites and the like. Look for and keep copies of articles or sites that relate to your market or business. In effect, you become a clipping service for your client. Remember that most of your clients probably get the same magazines but most do NOT have the time to read the material. By doing so, you save them time and effort. You keep them apprised of events, ideas, trends and the like. At some level, the client realizes the value you create. (And as an added bonus, your scanning keeps YOU on top of things in the industry. At some point, you become the resident expert and are seen as such. Nice edge!) Relative to your passions and interests, keep a stack of your favorite recipes or articles or whatever handy so that you can use them if and when appropriate. Of course, your clients interests or hobbies will vary from individual to individual. This means customizing your VAA. For example, if you hear something that might be of value to your client note it and the next time you read 16

18 a newspaper or visit a bookstore or surf the web keep it in mind. You might stumble on something relevant and meaningful. Use it. Sarah, that reminds me, I have a web site address that I ll send to you that talks about... Leah, let me send you a special report I just read... The Reactive Approach The reactive approach occurs when you see something that might be of value to the client and you send it along with a little note. Use phrases like: Mandy, I thought of you when I read this article... Or, Janice, I remembered you said your daughter was going off to Notre Dame this semester and I thought I would pass along this link about freshmen at Notre Dame. These are flattering statements that appeals to virtually anybody and everybody. This out of the blue approach surprises and delights prospects and customers alike. The Proactive Approach The proactive approach is a little more calculated. There are 3 steps to implementing a proactive VAA strategy. 1. Make a commitment to a VAA When an opportunity arises (for example, the client says something that goes click in your mind and you think of a VAA) go out of your way to make a commitment. Be bold and say something like, Don, by the way, I saw an article regarding...that I d like to send on to you. What s important to remember here is that most of your clients have heard promises like this before but reps fails to send or transmit the article. Now here s the sad thing but the thing that makes the proactive approach so effective: the client didn t really expect it to happen so he or she is not overly disappointed when it doesn t occur. I don t mean to be cynical but the fact of the matter is people break small promises and commitments every day in every walk of life. It is not that they bad people it just that their follow up is weak. Having said that, when someone actually GETS the article, the link or whatever, he or she is bound to be surprised and delighted. They think, Oh, he remembered. At some level, your stock or equity with that client goes up a notch. At a conscious or subconscious level, it registers that you kept your word! This resonates strongly with your clients. It suggests you will keep your word in all aspects of business. 2. Send the VAA within 2 days Of course, the next step in making the proactive approach work is to keep your word and send the document within 2 days. Not a week or two later. Attach a Post-It note to the article if you send it by mail. Write a note in the margin if you fax it. Write a few words if you are ing it. Don t belabor the point. Simply state, Leah, here s that special 17

19 report I promised you. Let the VAA speak for itself. 3. Leverage the VAA Don t be afraid to leverage your VAA. Use it to your advantage. That s the whole point. When you make a follow up call, don t hesitate to reference the VAA. For instance, Ken, I just wanted to give you a quick follow up call regarding that Cajun BBQ rub recipe I sent you. I don t know if you ve had a chance to whip it up and try it but I thought I d check and see. Of course, this statement can simply be a pre-text to a business related matter but when you remind the client that you did a little extra something powerful happens. It creates reciprocity. Reciprocity is the need for your client to do a favor or kind gesture in return for your VAA. This usually translates into giving you a little extra time on a call, listen a little more closely, provide you with better information, or give remarks that are more candid. At this stage, you ve got the edge you were seeking. Summary By no stretch of the imagination does a VAA guarantee you a sale but it does contribute to the overall value that clients see in you and your company. This is particularly true if you sell like products and services. Sometimes the little extras are all the differentiation you need. Start your VAA today. Conclusion A perfect follow up is no one single action or activity. It is a number of actions that you take to build value, create equity and tip the scales in your favor. You goal is to make the experience with you and your company different, unique, pleasurable and memorable. Jim Domanski is president of Teleconcepts Consulting, a B- to-b training and consulting firm. Jim works with companies and individuals who struggle to use the telephone more effectively to sell products and services. The author of four books on B to B tele-sales he has been featured in such publications as The Financial Post, Marketing Magazine, Advertising Age, Profit Magazine and many others. For more information about his consulting, training and coaching service, visit his website at and we sure to download his FREE SPECIAL REPORTS on The 9 Voice Mail Blunders and What You Can Do to Avoid Them. 18

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