Here’s the Best Time To Prepare for Your Follow-Up Call

Following Up

I recently did a training workshop for the sales pros at Ivy Garth Seeds. They sell flower and vegetable seeds to nurseries,  greenhouses, and other commercial growers.

They actually DO something that I have suggested for a long, long time that not many others practice: doing their pre-call planning for the next call to a prospect/customer immediately after they end their present call. It makes so much sense.

Think about it. This is when the call and prospect/customer details are freshest in your mind.

As opposed to pulling up a record right before a follow-up call, perusing the cryptic notes, and racking your brain, thinking, “Now what happened on that last call?”

Immediately after a call I suggest going through this process:

Work on Your Sales Graduate Degree

First, do your “Sales Graduate Degree” work, which is asking yourself two questions:

1. “What did I like about that call?”

What gets rewarded—even by yourself—gets repeated.

2. “What would I have done differently?” 

Or, what will I do differently next time? This is where the real learning takes place.

We intensify learning when we review our performance after an activity. Just think of how many learning opportunities you have over the course of the year. Thus, the graduate degree in sales.

Review and Plan

Next, think strategically about what transpired on the cal

Then record your notes about what you learned on the call, and, here’s the planning part, what you need to do on the next call to accomplish your ultimate objective.

I suggest you define the categories in which you collect information in your sales process.

Then update these categories after a call. For example, some that I use myself and with clients are

Authority– This represents the buying process and the hierarchy of the decision, and the players involved.

Commitment– If you are even placing a follow-up call you should be getting a commitment from them that they are doing something as a result of this call.

It can be as minor as agreeing to study your information, or at the top end, agreeing to buy. So, you record in your notes what they are doing between now and the next call, and what you’d like them to do on the next call.

This then becomes your Primary Objective for the next call.

Time– Every commitment should have a time frame attached. Then there’s a greater likelihood of it actually happening.

And let them attach the time frame: “Mike, by when will you have those numbers collected?”

This helps set the date for the follow-up.

Interest/Need/Why?– This is the heart of whether or not they will buy from you.

Here you are defining the business reasons behind their action.

Why are they interested in your product/service?

What specific problem do they need solved?

What ROI do they anticipate receiving with your solution?

For example, in my case, Sales VP’s aren’t interested in training for the sake of training… I talked to one yesterday who needs to open up new accounts which will result in a 25% increase in net new business in the next 12 months. Because the Executive VP said so. And bad things might happen to him if they don’t. And their sales reps haven’t had to prospect before, so they don’t know how, and are a bit fearful of it.

Those are the real business reasons WHY they want training, and why they will buy

So, in your post-call review you will record what you now know in this area, and what you still need to discover in order to move them forward. Write out the specific questions you will need to ask on the next call.

(These categories are part of my ACTION sales model, where the first letters of each form the word Action for easy recall and implementation. The O is Overview, meaning you do your overview or summary of these areas at the end of a call with your prospect/customer. The N stands for Notes, which is of course where you are writing all of this).

Opening Statement Ideas

Finally, I suggest jotting down opening statement ideas for the next call. Or, prepare the entire opening/voice mail.

Why not?

I have heard the objection to following this process: It takes time. Yes. But it cuts down on the prep time prior to the next call. The trump card, however, is that you will be better-prepared for the next call.

Instead of trying to reconstruct the previous call based on sketchy details, you now simply remind yourself of that previous call based on having given it more thought after the experience, and then you look at the game plan already laid out. It’s like you jump on a treadmill that is already humming along at the speed you want.

Plus, there’s the attitudinal part.

Doug Bletcher, President of Ivy Garth, shared how he learned this process as a young salesman. When he finally started practicing this process, it gave him a tremendous feeling of empowerment and confidence as he prepared to speak with a prospect or customer, as opposed to winging it.

Follow this process for planning your follow-up and you’ll save time, and have better calls.


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