How Distributors Improve Customer Retention A common rule of thumb in distribution is that it…
Building a Solid Sales Follow-Up Process
Timely, standardized sales follow-up can make the difference between success and failure in your large bids and quotes. Harvard Business Review reports that companies that follow up within an hour of a request are seven times as likely to have meaningful conversations with decision makers as those that followed up just one hour later, and 60 times as likely as companies that waited 24 hours or longer. Simply initiating a follow-up process as quickly as possible eliminates much of your competition.
How do you build a consistent sales follow-up process. Here are some ideas to get you started.
1. Outline Your Follow-Up Process
Salespeople using a codified follow-up process always know the correct steps to take at the right times to be competitive in every stage of the sales cycle. Your sales reps are using a process to follow-up today; however, if it is not systematized, you have no way of measuring successful processes and pushing them out to the rest of your team and eliminating unsuccessful tactics. You also have no way of knowing if your sales reps are consistently applying these successful behaviors to every opportunity.
What are the standard elements that lead to a closed sale? With SMP’s Bid/Quote Closer you can define a standardized follow-up schedule for all bids, quotes, projects and opportunities and automatically create those follow-up activities for your reps.
Every distributor has their own sales process, and every opportunity is unique, but there are critical elements every company needs to have in place.
- Outline your key sales stages: inquiry, qualification, proposal, ROI, references, negotiation and close.
- Determine the activities related to each stage that should be automatically created and measured: calls, meetings, documentation, vendor contact and more.
- Include key milestones in the relationship: job or project data, shipping and delivery information and requirements, budgets and payment information, scheduling and value-added services, material handling needs and more.
- Make a plan for deepening your relationship with large and strategic opportunities: who are the key contacts, influencers, related companies and vendors that are part of their decision?
- Don’t forget post-sale follow-up activities for future account planning, repeat business and increased share of wallet.
2. Determine an Automation Threshold
With SMP’s Bid/Quote Closer, you can determine a threshold for the size of the bids and quotes for which you want to create activities and track for better management. This is important because not every bid or quote is large enough to warrant your full process and attention. In fact, you might find that tracking smaller, faster-closing opportunities is a distraction. You can adjust the threshold up or down later to track more or fewer opportunities and projects.
3. Improve Your Team’s Product Knowledge
Sales reps who lack product knowledge often lack the confidence to consistently follow-up on opportunities and certainly lack the ability to add value to their customer interactions. Answering your prospects’ questions as quickly as possible positions your company as the expert partner they need. It also builds trust and credibility as you work to establish a deeper relationship with them.
This can be a great way to work with your vendors. Your vendors can help you strategize larger deals and provide product education to your reps. Most vendors have training documents, product literature and even videos that help you make fast connections during your sales opportunities.
4. Build in Reviews and Corrections
Be sure to schedule regular reviews into your sales reporting and meetings for these larger projects and opportunities. By tracking the stages, activities and success rates, you will be able to consistently improve the performance of your entire sales team in addition to improving your close rates for individual sales cycles. Don’t hesitate to step in where training, leadership or management contact is needed — your primary job as a sales leader is to coach your team to greater success.