The Sales Follow Up – Fundamentals, Failures, and the Curse (or how to lose a deal and not even know it)

There is a common saying that goes something like this – “Sales people are the easiest people to sell to.” I tend to agree. In my case, after a long day of executing multiple sales conversations and using various sales tactics, the last thing I want to do in my spare time is spend even more energy negotiating and interacting as part of yet another sales effort. I simply want to do my due diligence on a vendor, review a product’s features and advantages, compare the different price quotes I receive, and then execute a transaction. Pretty simple stuff.

However, me being me, I frequently find myself unconsciously transitioning from a consumer to a sales manager. Specifically, I tend to evaluate the sale person trying to sell me something as if I were their manager. It’s really a curse, but if you know me, you realize it just happens. I can’t help myself. It’s me.

Here’s a real-world example. A month ago, I decided to pay a company to do some work on my property. I contacted two different vendors, asked that they swing by to scope the project and provide me with a quote. Company “A”, a very well-known vendor, dispatched one of their sales reps to my home to meet with me. When he arrived, I noticed he was driving a company car (not a car with a magnetic sign on the door, but a nice car with a full paint job advertising the company’s name, website, and phone number.) He arrived on time. Very good – points for being on time. During our meeting, I ask him if he would be involved with doing the job, or if he was just responsible for sales. He replied, “I’m the sales rep for this territory, all I do is sell”. We scope the work, agree that he will send me a quote, and away he goes.

Company “B”, a lesser-known vendor, goes to the trouble of calling me the day before they were scheduled to arrive, to confirm our meeting. I think “Impressive” – good time management. The day of the meeting they call again letting me know that their representative will be arriving as planned at the agreed upon time. Now I’m really impressed. Two confirmations that the sales meeting will occur as planned. The representative arrives on time and in a new vehicle. I find out that he is the owner of the company. I’m glad – I like dealing with decision-makers. We scope the work and agree that he will send me a quote. He agrees and departs.

I received quotes from both companies via email within 48 hours. Both vendors are now batting a thousand. Both are on time for the meeting, both on time with the delivery of the quote.

So,… guess what happens next ?…. Yup, you guessed it…nothing. It’s been 60 days since both vendors provided me quotes via email, but nobody, NOBODY, has followed up with me. Not a peep, not a call, not an email, nothing. Crickets…

Let’s summarize – One vendor has multiple stores, advertises on TV, has sales people on staff equipped with company cars, sales collateral, yet nobody is effectively managing their sales process.

The other vendor is the challenger, yet has the smarts and staff to call me not once, but twice to confirm our meeting, and sends the company owner to my home to scope the work, yet nobody is effectively managing their sales process.

In both cases the vendors “think” they are doing an excellent job managing their sales process, but in fact they are failing miserably.

Here I am trying very hard to simply give them my money but they can’t take it. And, me being me, I can’t bring myself to reach back out to them. They have not earned that. It’s not my job, it’s theirs. It’s the curse…. Welcome to my world.

So, next time you’re sure your sales process is fully optimized and effective, consider asking an independent third party for their feedback. You’ll be surprised at what you might find when you assess your company from the outside looking in.

John Ingemi is the Founder and CEO of Sell And Thrive, a sales consulting company located in New Hampshire. John frequently Blogs about his experiences with sales processes and tactics from the lens of a consumer, and how they often time intersect with everyday life events.

2 thoughts on “The Sales Follow Up – Fundamentals, Failures, and the Curse (or how to lose a deal and not even know it)”

  1. Great real-world example, John. Curious to know what the right number of touches would be — how would these vendors strike the right balance between what is enough to be helpful and professional but not too much to get themselves blocked?

    1. Great Question Candy ! There is no magic number, however, as outlined in my situation, at least one follow-up is needed to, at a minimum ensure the prospect actually received the quote and to make sure there are no questions about it. On a grand scale, its been my experience that between three to five touches over a two to three week period is ideal to balance the expectations of the business with the needs of the customer.

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