Conducting Follow-up Sales Calls

Expert Advice

Over the past few years (too many than I care to remember now) I have sat with experienced recruiters who are making follow up sales calls to those they have already “sold to” previously. Quite often these calls are made a month or so after the initial call. Many of these recruitment professionals had a whizzy CRM system to allow them to keep track of the contacts they have spoken to. There are very few, even procurement professionals, who have such a catalogue of all of the calls they have received from those who are selling to them. There in lies some of the difficulties in that “second call”. As I see it, there are two outcomes possible from a follow-up call (or any sales call).

1.       An advance – something that gets us closer to doing business with a prospect client than before we made the call.

2.       A continuation – an opportunity to speak again with the objective of making an advance.

Example Advances:

Live requirement, future requirement, agreement to look at CV(s) for a current requirement, client meeting, commitment to use on next position, agreed terms.

Example Continuations:

Callbacks, emailing our details, HR fob offs and objections that have not been handled, rejection.

So how can we get more advances? Sell better on the first call and do some effective follow-up.

How many times have you heard this happen, either around you in the office or even coming out of your own mouth?

Consultant: “Hi, It’s X calling from Company Y. Just a quick call to catch up; We spoke last month/6 weeks ago/3 months ago and I wanted to follow up and see if anything had changed since we last spoke?”

Who, reading this sales tip, can remember whom they spoke to last week, by name and content of conversation? Yet we seem to expect a client to remember a two/six/ten minute phone call among the gamut of others they have received and treat us like an old friend. Why do we think they will automatically remember us and know what has changed since we last spoke?

Many a good first sales call is not capitalised upon due to our inability to follow up properly! Let’s look at what would make a follow up call have impact:

How do I get a prospect client to remember talking me in the past? With difficulty. Why? Because I can’t remember without referring to my database and it’s my job!!!

So how do I do it? One way is to remind them of the conversation you had with a summary:

Consultant: “Hi, It’s X calling from Company Y. The last time we spoke you mentioned you had/were/will be…..”

To do this well requires good record keeping. Know what you spoke about last time. Add into your notes what the client liked and was receptive to in terms of the Features Advantages and Benefits sold to them. Record what process they use to recruit and what they like about it. Also note what they reacted to less well that was also sold to them. Write your notes succinctly so you can read and digest them quickly. For example notes could read:

Had a really good conversation. Easy to get on with happy to discuss recruitment plans. Nothing on the go at the moment. Open to using Company Y in the future when looking. Currently uses A Competitor though would consider us alongside. Said would keep in touch.

On the face of it when reading it the original sales call went well. How am I going to remind the client of that in a month (or more)? What went well about the conversation? What do they like about Company Y? What do they like about A Competitor? What did I say that made them agree to consider using me? Did they say they would consider using me or they would definitely use me? If I can’t remember will they? Truthfully, will they?

Alternatively the notes could read like this:

Good conversation. Uses Competitor Z – likes the fact gets min 3 cvs per job, quick response times and that consultant understands requirements properly. Could be better at understanding technical skills of applicants. SOLD: database size, 24-hour cv shortlist of 3 candidates. Really liked the tech testing and reference checking option. Not so fussed over global office network. Toughest role to fill in the last 12 months was Sharepoint developer. Said would keep in touch.

How much easier would it be now to get the client to remember the call? In reality they don’t have to. I can summarise to them at the beginning of my follow up call:

Consultant: “Hi, It’s X calling from Company Y. The reason for my call is we spoke recently and you mentioned you had struggled in the past to find Sharepoint developers and were particularly interested in the technical testing and referencing services I can offer.”

We still need a hook to pull the client into the call. My hook in this instance would be a good Sharepoint developer who is not registered with Competitor Z, who is referenced, technically tested and looking! Without that, it is likely my follow up call is going to have less impact. Call back after call back to the same client, to my mind, is a continuation. I want to make an advance. Let’s do something that is going to get us one step closer to doing business with them than before we made the call. Plan your callbacks as effectively and efficiently as you would your “new business” prospecting calls.

3 Responses

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  1. Good/informative info as always. For an old “pro” like me there is no rocket science here but it’s good to be reminded of some of the basics AS WELL AS picking up some new tips!

    Tony Timmins 23 February 2010 at 3:08 pm Permalink
  2. Good to get your feedback Tony – I trust you find enough here to keep you coming back to both refresh and the pick up some new tips!

    RecruitmentDad 23 February 2010 at 7:52 pm Permalink
  3. nice post. thanks.

    forex robot 27 March 2010 at 10:45 pm Permalink

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