There is a lot of talk in sales about the importance of following up with customers, yet so few salespeople actually take the time to do it. This is despite the significant amount of time salespeople can spend with customers, uncovering wants and needs, providing detailed information and building rapport. Therefore, they have the perfect opportunity to make a polite phone call a few days after the interaction.
There are two types of follow up calls a salesperson might make. One where a customer has made a purchase or buying decision. The other is when a customer has not made a buying decision and perhaps wants to think it over.
When a customer has purchased, the salesperson’s call should be made a short time after the customer has received or used the goods or service. The intention of this call, is to enquire how they are enjoying their new product or service.
One of the main reasons salespeople don’t make this call is because they’re afraid of what they’ll hear from their customers. They fear they’ll be faced with a complaint or the customer might tell them they are unhappy with their purchase.
Unfortunately, a lot of the time when customers are unhappy with a product or service, they don’t let the salesperson or business know. However, they complain to everyone else about their dissatisfaction and simply never return. Uncovering and effectively handling issues and complaints provides the opportunity to build customer loyalty.
On the other hand, if the customer is loving their purchase, the salesperson calling and asking for their feedback, can make them feel valued.
On those occasions when a customer hasn’t purchased, salespeople tend to shy away from making follow up calls because they don’t want to appear pushy. A follow up call in these cases, should not be about pressuring a customer to purchase. Rather, it’s a polite call, to enquire if the customer has any further questions and letting them know they are there to help, if needed.
The customer may not have purchased on this particular occasion but “today’s lookers are tomorrow’s buyers”. A follow up call may be all it takes for them to be inspired to contact that salesperson when they are ready to purchase or, the next time they are in the market.
Salespeople do themselves and their customers a great disservice if they don’t follow up and build upon the relationship and experience they have spent time establishing. Follow up should always be part of service, not only to maximise opportunities for the business but to complete the experience for the customer.
We are in an age where our social skills are under threat. The extent and ways in which we interact and communicate with people, is completely different to twenty years ago, or even five years ago for that matter. The need for face to face interaction is on the decline, largely due to technology. We are less and less required to interact with people as part of our day to day lives.
For example, it is no longer necessary to physically enter a bank to transfer or withdraw money, transactions can be completed by the click of a button. We can shop from the comfort of our own home, even our weekly grocery shop can be done online and delivered to our door. Even on those occasions when we do visit a supermarket, we can chose to skip the human interaction and self-serve. We send a text message instead of making a phone call, write an email instead of having a conversation and post our holiday snaps on facebook instead of verbally sharing our stories with friends.
This reduced need to communicate begins at a young age. Children are spending less time playing with other children and more time looking at a screen. Often they are more equipped to navigate the internet and interact through a computer, than person to person.
With the decreasing need for us to communicate with others on a face to face basis, the social skills we use to do so, aren’t being practiced and as a result decline or, never fully develop to begin with.
We are seeing the effects of this in the workplace, particularly in sales and customer service, an industry where social skills are vital. Staff struggle with the very basics of communication. Making eye contact is a challenge, let alone having a genuine conversation with a customer or other staff.
Unfortunately workplace training, rarely covers such basics, preferring to focus on work related processes and procedures. There is dire need however, to provide people with skills in areas such as body language, tone of voice and eye contact.
We can no longer assume every person we hire, has the level of skill required to interact with others sufficiently. It must be included in our inductions and training for all employees before we let them loose within the workplace, let alone on your customers. As the world evolves, so must our staff training.