Sunday, February 11, 2007

Week 25 - Remove the Risk and for Goodness Sake, Follow-Up!

Buying from your business is a risk! Most people in business understand that a guarantee is something that takes the risk out of any transaction. One of the barriers to a prospective customer making a decision is that without this guarantee, they are taking all of the risk. In other words, you tell them it is a great product or solution and ask for their money but the risk is all theirs. If your promises do not eventuate, they are the losers. The hesitation caused by this risk should not be underestimated.

When you last purchased a product that you had not bought before, did you feel a sense of vulnerability? Will it work? Is this brand reliable? The final decision you made involved a risk on your part. If you put prospects at ease through information and risk reversal, you will see your sales increase.

The key message is to reach out to your customers, understand the feelings that they have surrounding the purchase of your product or service and develop ways to make them feel comfortable. It might not jump out at you, but don’t simply dismiss the idea… “We cannot accept the stock back so how can we reverse the risk?” When you put one of these systems into place it really forces you to think about your product or service and how it is delivered. It puts your whole organization on notice that there will be pain if you do not deliver… not such a bad thing huh?

One of the craziest things in the world of business is that people fail to follow up. Once a customer has purchased a product or service they rarely hear from the company again. But follow up is much more than simply calling or writing to your old customers. Following up should become a religion within your business as it can be a perfect way to increase your conversion rate or tap a huge source of new business. Customers often need to be helped across the line and you can help them by making it easy for them to buy.

• First and foremost, follow-up customers who have recently purchased. Make this part of your system, that is, make it a rule that every customer is called two days after the purchase. Not only can you check on their level of satisfaction, you are opening a new dialogue that could potentially yield yet another related sale.

• Follow up your introductory letters regarding your business – tell your prospect you were calling to check that the letter was received.

• Follow up your quotes – keep following them up until you have a decision (even if the decision is a “no”, the lead may still be valuable, more on that later.) When following up your quotations, reiterate your USP, tell the prospect how to act and perhaps give them a one time offer for an immediate response. For example, “…we know you wanted the top of the line pool cleaner, we can actually throw that in for nothing if you sign the paperwork Wednesday.”

• Follow up prospects who have failed to return your calls – don’t consider your job done once you have left them a message. Your job is not done until you have spoken to them.

Once again: one time follow up will produce one time results. Remember, your competitors are always knocking on your customer’s doors so you need to build a wall in their minds to block out any other advances. The wall will only go up when they are hooked on the way that you treat them. Always see follow up as the ‘long term bonding process’. Is anyone in your business making follow-up calls?

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