Stop Checking In with Your Prospects (and Five Better Ideas)
About every 90 days I receive a call from a company that sells a service that I use. I am more than qualified. Each time they call, they say the very same thing: “I am just calling to check in.” And each time they call, I politely thank them for checking in and tell them that nothing has changed. The salesperson politely asks me if he can call me back and check in 90 days, and I politely tell him that he can.
I have been receiving calls from this company for eight years and, as you might imagine, a lot has changed in the last eight years. Much has changed over the last 90 days!
There are two problems with this call. The first problem is that the outcome that the salesperson seeks is wrong; it is meaningless. The second problem is that these calls reduce the likelihood of a future sale by actually destroying value.
A Poorly Defined Outcome
The problem with the desired outcome of this call, if it can even be called an outcome, is that it does nothing to accomplish anything for me or for the salesperson.
The hapless salesperson doesn’t really want to “check-in” with me. What he really wants is an appointment with me. But because he knows that outcome is much more difficult to achieve, he has reduced the outcome to simply calling to check in and see if anything might have changed.
I imagine him making the call simply so he can check the box indicating that he made his required calls.
Making calls like this do nothing to create value. In fact, they destroy value. They reduce the possibility that of doing business together in the future by giving the impression that neither the salesperson or the company has any ideas worth listening to, talking about, or exploring together. My impression of this company, perhaps incorrectly, is that they aren’t very interesting, they aren’t worth looking at even if I was exploring their service, and they aren’t really aware of what is going on in my industry, society, or the economy in general.
Is this unfair of me? Sure it is.
And, more than likely, you have prospects and dream clients who are treating you just as unfairly.
I haven’t seen this company’s offering in almost a decade. It could be the hottest thing on the market and it may be the best choice for me, but I would never know it because of poor salesmanship. They have said nothing to gain my interest, and have instead left me with the impression that they have nothing to say that is worth listening to.
The problem here is that this salesperson believes that it is my job to say something that will open a conversation. He is waiting for me to tell him that something has happened to me and that I am now ready to speak to him. This is a sure (and proven) recipe for failure.
Here are five better choices:
1. We Have Changed
Is it possible that this salesperson’s company has changed their offering in the last eight years? God, I hope so! Is it possible, even likely, that those changes have helped some of their clients? They better have!
Are the changes worth talking about with prospects and dream clients if they may actually lead to an improvement? What else is there?
Make a list of all of the changes your company has made in the last, say, 24 months. Underneath the changes you have written down, outline all of the ways they have created value for your clients. Can you quantify those results?
When making prospecting calls, use this list to start a dialogue about how the changes you have made might benefit your prospect and dream clients.
2. Our Industry Has Changed
Despite the great leveling of knowledge brought about by the Internet, you know your industry better than your prospects do. Your prospects and dream clients don’t spend a lot of time studying your industry; they expect you to be their expert and trusted advisor.
What has changed in your industry? Have costs been cut so deeply as to change the ability of your competitors to serve their customers? Are there industry statistics that indicate your client’s cost structures may be changing? What impact will the changes that are occurring in your industry have on your clients, prospects, and dream clients?
Make a list of the changes that have occurred in your industry over the last 18 months. How are your clients and your competitor’s clients feeling these changes? What do your clients need to know now?
3. Your Industry Has Changed and We Can Help
You need to know your industry well, and you need to know your client’s business as if it were your own (it is!). What changes are affecting their industry? How are those changes affecting their business?
Make a list of the changes that are having an impact on your clients. Have you made changes that have helped them to deal with these changes?
Call your dream client and, instead of checking in, say: “We have noticed two major changes in your industry and we have three ideas we are implementing with our clients to help them produce greater results. I’d like to schedule a time to share them with you.”
4. We Know Something You Don’t Know
What do you know that your dream clients don’t? Do you have information that will give your dream clients the foresight to make better business decisions?
Make a list of the things that you know that your dream clients don’t know. How will these ideas benefit your dream clients?
5. I Want to Know What You Think
Your dream clients are full of information about their company and their industry. They are subject matter experts. To better understand how to sell and how to create value, you need to know what they know.
Instead of making a meaningless, value-destroying call, why not say something like: “We’ve been spending a lot of time working on some ideas with our clients, and I’d like to get you take on this. How has ___________ impacted your business? What do you believe companies like ours should be doing to better serve our clients in your space?”
One Last Note
There is no reason to make any call without an outcome that benefits both you and your dream client. Each and every call needs to create value for your dream client, as well as contain an attempt to obtain a commitment to move forward. Anything less isn’t a prospecting call.
You can close each of these calls with a simple request for an appointment. There is nothing wrong with saying: “I’d very much like to schedule an appointment with you to learn more about what you guys are doing there and how we might be able to work with you in the future. What does Thursday look like for a twenty minute appointment?”
Every contact and every communication with your prospect is chance to have a meaningful interaction that will advance towards a sale. Every call needs to have this as the ideal outcome, and it must be something more than simply “checking in.” Use these five ideas make your calls more meaningful.
Do you ever call your prospects and dream clients just to check in?
Does every call you make have a concrete and planned outcome?
Do you attempt to make your calls meaningful conversations that establish you as someone worth speaking to and someone with ideas worth hearing?
Do you close every call for the outcome that you really want? Is it an outcome that creates value for your prospect or dream client?