by Kevin Stirtz
One of the best ways to increase sales is to keep in touch with people. From calling on former customers to checking in on new leads, it's critical to stay in touch with people on a regular basis.
One of the reasons for this is that it takes time to develop the trust required for someone to do business with us. If we're a "stranger" they might hesitate even though they want or need what we offer. Remember, studies have shown it typically takes 8 to 15 contacts before a sale is made.
Another reason is people have a lot of things going on. What's important one day may drop off their radar screen the next. Priorities change from day to day as life intrudes on people's plans.
Put these two facts together and you can see what happens.
A person decides they're interested in our product or service. They call or they stop by. We chat and things seem to be going well. Then they leave and we never hear from them again. The fact is they're still interested but, because our business is new to them they might not feel comfortable making the purchase yet. They need to warm up to us. Their trust level still needs to move up the scale.
So they leave without making a purchase. Then reality steps in. Their focus turns to something else and soon their interest in our product or service moves so far down their priority scale they forget about it.
It's not that they have decided not to buy from us. It's not that they have lost interest. They simply need more time to get through the buying cycle, so they feel comfortable doing business with us.
Our job then, is to help them move through the buying cycle and raise their comfort level so they'll decide to work with us.
The key to accomplishing this is with follow-up.
We need to find ways to re-engage people, to re-connect with them so they remember why they were interested in our product or service in the first place. We need to help them stop, if only for a moment, and say "Oh yeah, I should look into that..."
But we need to do the follow-up in a way that is professional, not pestering. We need to show them our goal is to help them rather than to just make a sale.
There are many ways to keep in touch without becoming a pest.
When you follow-up you should have something for the person you're contacting. Maybe it's a "VIP" card that gives them a special discount. Maybe it's a token for a free cup of coffee. Maybe you send them an article about their industry that they might find interesting.
When you show up with something for them, you are showing them your focus is on them, not you. If every time you contact someone you give the impression you're just looking for a sale, they'll think of you only as a salesperson looking for a commission.
On the other hand, if you always have something for them (a gift, an article, a referral, an invitation to a business event, even some local news or gossip) then you become someone they enjoy talking with. You become a welcome break in their busy day.
At this point you've made a new friend who should have no hesitation becoming a customer. You've become part of their world, so when they want or need what you offer, they'll think of you first.