This advice is crucial and applies to everyone who is involved in SME type B2B telesales…
The more information you have the better you service the prospect and also the better you select your own products and services for their use. If estimating for a quotation it's crucial you get all their information and details that you need before submitting your plans and estimate quotations.
(Estimators often would not describe themselves as sales people. That is one huge mistake.) Anyone submitting quotes or estimates is in sales. You are in the driving seat for one brief period before submitting your stuff. Use that time very well to get what you need by way of information from the person you are quoting to.
An essential thing you need to establish is the format of follow up, the process. This has to be embedded like many other things in sales. Every company should have its own process. Here are three strong things to organise...
1. How is this decision going to be made? A huge question that many sales people shy away from. It’s so important to get that clear. If you don't know how a decision is going to be made you are well behind in the process. Always know how the decision will be made. It's an easy question and nobody objects. Various answers can be given but they have to be the process, nothing film-flam, no dodging the answer. or you don't send the quotation. You hold on to it. It's your work and your property and if your client is flippant - or don't buy in then they are generally not for real. So do not send quotes to anyone who cannot answer how the decision will be made. You can never win with these people. I would get that before working on the estimate. It's a complete no-brainer.
2. Are other people involved? They often are, and the rule is to ask and get their email addresses to forward the same information to. This needs to be a rule it's not a tip. Always ask if you can include others in email responses. So your Mr Big is meeting another Mr Big. This is where you need to get your information across to each Mr Big.
3. When will this decision be made? Organise and diarise with them your follow up. Always make the first suggestion that they will have questions and can we put a time to discuss in the diary ? Be very flexible but very precise. My rule is if that no follow up is agreeable to the other person...i.e. "We will call you if we are interested" then I send nothing as my job has not been done. You have to engineer a sale here. The sale is them agreeing to call you back. Be very strict with yourself on process. It always pays off. So what I am saying here is send nothing if no follow up can be agreed. You are going to fire blanks and may be used to simply beat the incumbent supplier about the head. Remember this: Anyone who is serious will give ground on passing on information that you need. The opposite means don't ever send. It has served me well. Very, very occasionally I have been followed up and then try again to get what I need. My judgement is good.
Any diarised call back from a client means an instant call from you to ask if you "missed their call?" This is important stuff so please act in a way that means you are not fobbed off. Once they have your quote or information they often go cool on you. That's the reason why the process described here is so important. How many times have you quoted or simply sent your information and that's the end to the contact? My rule is not to send anything unless a follow up is sincerely agreed. There is a genuine skill to be learned here.
Easy isn't it? That's the point it's not easy. Far too many estimates, quotations, brochures, website details are sent over to potential companies with none of the above being quantified or the 'next steps' established. This should be a natural process and here are the ways to achieve the above.
Whilst you are talking to them is an obvious good time, the focus being talking to them. Please don't expect to get results by emailing. Sales is about speaking to people. Getting through is another subject and for this article I am assuming you have done this.
So as you go through your pitch or as you prepare your estimate you talk to them and try and elicit the above information. You may get some of it, you may not. You need a reminder pinned up of what you need from each person you are selling to or estimating for. Please do this.
The very best time to get any of the unanswered questions is just before you give them what they want. Always remember if they don't really want what you have this becomes harder and you must question yourself on why you are not further down the line with the prospect before sending.
With estimates in particular you have put plenty of work in so need to ensure you are not the third quote which is just making up the numbers. Experienced estimators can work out if they are making up the numbers. Develop this skill. Speak to your MD for his method.
The above is the sales work. It means getting outside your comfort zone. These days as many as 50% of all internal sales people never once step out of their cosy comfort zones.
Their process is purely mechanical as they crank through the work in the belief that sales is a numbers game. Nothing is further from the truth. Numbers are involved, plenty of calls, but the skill and the achievement of outcomes is all about the above skills and your own sales personality. That's where a sales coach comes in very handy!
The result of not getting questions answered is poor numbers and missed targets. Knowing your numbers is essential. That's not for this article.
If I can persuade a few of you to really focus on what is featured here I know you will thank me, or certainly should thank me. The above takes confidence and energy. Are you confident and energised for most of the day? That's the sales business. The above advice separates out the swimmers from the sinkers.