According to a Hubspot study, 44% of sales reps abandon the attempt after the first reminder. However, 80% of sales require 5 reminders after the first meeting!
You will, therefore, appreciate the strategic importance of the sales reminder in your selling process. So I am proposing that we look together at 5 rules to optimise your customer reminders.
Let’s start by plugging leaks upstream of the sales pipeline…
3 rules for having less need to remind the customers
1) Take care over your discovery plan
If you need to remind all your customers, beyond the statistics quoted at the start of this article, this may be because you have not succeeded in discovering their real needs and purchase motivations.
Perhaps you have been too quick in the discovery phase, with questions which are too generic and not open enough. You haven’t put your finger on the real decision-making triggers. Or you haven’t identified the real decision-maker and you are in the process of reminding the wrong person… is that possible?
Take care over your discovery plan. Prepare your plan in minute detail with strategic open questions, and take the necessary time to administer it. You will collect numerous pieces of vital information on your prospect, which will enable you to prepare your sales pitch in a way which is much better targeted and will really resonate with your prospects!
Some examples of questions to set you off on the right track:
- How are you going to make your decision?
- What are the most important choice criteria for you?
- What would make you say that you took the right decision one year from now?
- Who will participate in final approval of the project?
- Why do you want to change your current situation?
2) Develop a good sales pitch
If you have taken care over your discovery plan, you will be able to target the needs, expectations and prime purchase motivations of your prospect accurately. With this kind of information you can prepare your sales pitch like a sniper aiming at his target.
You will know what buttons to press to whet the commercial appetite of your prospect, and how to make jointly constructing the sale seem of value to him.
Use his remarks as support for specific arguments Use various kinds of reformulation, and get him to approve each of your arguments so that you can be sure of hitting the bullseye. These are the keys to engaging and involving the customer, enabling you to advance gently but surely towards concluding the sale.
You will be able to minimise the number of objections and the needs for reminders. Because a customer who is really convinced will purchase immediately, or come back to you of his own volition for more specific details!
Make sure that the following stage involves some effort on his part
As far as possible, try to make sure that the following stage in the selling cycle involves some effort on the part of your prospect.
For instance, suppose that you have finished presenting your sales pitch. Your prospect, who is a purchasing professional, then tells you that he will take stock and summarise your discussion to his management.
Don’t just say: “Great, agreed! I’ll send you an email with a summary of our meeting”. He could then reply “Yes, fine,” just to get rid of you.
Instead say: “Great, agreed! In that case, when do you think you will give me a reply? When shall we plan our next meeting? or “How about we set up a meeting with your management so that I can present this fantastic solution which we have come up with using a scale model? What do you think?”
If your prospect doesn’t at least agree to fix another appointment for meeting you, if he remains vague or says: “Remind me on such and such a date,” there may be a problem.
In this case, ask him clearly: “Do you think in all honesty that my offer is going to be of interest to your general management?”
If he says “No”, you then have the choice of making him a new offer or …. just withdrawing.
This will in any case save you wasting your company’s resources, and your own time and energy, in reminding the customer in the hope of concluding a sale which is never going to happen.
If you use these 3 key approaches effectively, there is no reason to suppose you will have to endlessly remind your customer to place an order.
But there are a thousand and one possible reasons why you may need to remind them. The statistics speak for themselves!
2 rules for succeeding with customer reminders
1) Limit the reminders, vary what you say, and multiply channels
First of all, limit customer reminders. In other words, don’t remind your customer over and over again just because you have sales targets to reach. Don’t send out reminders over and over again because you’re afraid of losing your job or ending the month in the red…
That’s desperation. Your prospect will notice, tell himself that your product is perhaps not selling very well, perhaps isn’t very good etc. He will start to go cool on the idea.
Then, for a good customer reminder, vary the channels. Don’t keep endlessly calling his telephone number. Also send him an explanatory brochure / extra documentation by email. Invite him to an “open day”.
In a similar vein, avoid conveying the same message with each reminder: “Why are you not taking my calls?” “I have called you, but it just rings out.”
Instead, change the message every time, and find a good reason: a valid reason. Ensure that all these reasons are contributing towards a single objective: “Show your customer that you have the product he needs.”
For instance, after you’ve sent him an email summarising the competitive advantages of your offer, send him a selection of customer references (success stories). A few days later, send him a demo video of your product, etc.
2) Be patient!
Avoid at all costs harassing your customer. Don’t jump the gun, this is the basic rule of effective customer reminders. If you abide by the rules set out above, there is no reason for an interested customer not to contact you sooner or later. So progress at the same rate as him, whilst extending your hand to him…
Demonstrate patience. Rely on the facts, and the previous stages in the selling cycle. Your prospect might have experienced a hitch which prevents him from placing the order straight away; and he daren’t tell you about it. He might have had a family problem. Just be patient, whilst remaining professional in your follow-up.
Yes, of course your company needs money! Yes, of course you need money! But if you keep sending him endless reminders, and start being too insistent, he might get irritated; and you will then lose someone who could have become your customer in a few weeks or months.
What is the only thing which you could do? Continue to educate your prospect by sending him free information with added value, samples etc., which have no direct relationship with what you want to sell him.
Be patient… and nurture your pool of prospects who are in the “reminder” phase in your sales pipeline.
It may seem simple, but remember the words of Leonardo da Vinci – “simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”!
Follow these 5 rules for customer reminders to the letter, and there is no doubt that you will achieve markedly higher turnover in the weeks to come…