Since 2006 I’ve been working on my USP—Unique Selling Proposition. In a nutshell, it’s part tag line, part mission statement, part elevator pitch all rolled up into something short and sweet, pithy, memorable and impactful.
And like anything in life, good ones are hard to create. Then, around 2008, this tagline / USP came to me and it not only resonated with me but with other sales professionals, sales managers, business owners and entrepreneurs I knew. It resonated because we’ve all seen our Outlook calendars full of Tasks or self-set “Appointments” to “follow-up” with some prospect that has blown us off. Those amorphous, ambiguous, one-sided appointments just waste our time, the prospect’s time and wear us down.
But, Wes, follow-ups are important. I read that we need to have 7-12 touches or follow-ups with a prospect before they buy but now you’re saying I shouldn’t follow-up. WTH? Are you crazy? I need a drink.”
You’re right. It does take more touches to win over a prospect, but if you have a mutually-agreed upon date to get back in touch, you are not “following-up,” you are calling in or arriving for your set “appointment.”
Sure, some say it’s semantics and I’m just mincing words, but stick with me for a moment. If I call you and you tell me, “I’m just not ready yet,” or “Now’s not a good time,” and I say, “Not a problem. When would you like me to get back in touch?” Most sales people would accept a blow off such as “tomorrow” or “next week” or “next month” or “next quarter.”
Instead of accepting that non-committal answer, press for a specific date and time. “Tomorrow? No problem. What time works for you?” Sure, they may be in a rush at that moment, but aren’t we all? And is their time any more valuable than yours? Stand your ground and ask for a time. “2 PM tomorrow? Got it. I’ll call you at 2 tomorrow. Have a good day.”
Now, when I call her back at 2 PM tomorrow, I’m not “following up.” We have an appointment. When the gate-keeper/receptionist/executive assistant asks,
May I ask what this call is regarding?”
“s she expecting your call?”
you can honestly reply with,
Yes. I’m calling for our 2 PM appointment.”
See the difference?
Your demeanor will be different.
Whoever answers the phone will treat you differently.
The prospect will be more respectful of your time.
As an added bonus, if the prospect stands you up, you can leave a voicemail message that says “I was just calling in for our 2 PM appointment.
Please let me know when you’d like to resume our conversation.”
You now have the moral high ground and can negotiate the next step from a position of strength because they stood you up for an appointment they agreed to have.
Now do you understand why I say “Life’s too short for follow-up calls”?