By Andy Paul
Salespeople routinely dig a hole and throw themselves in it after they close an order with a customer. You get an order and your instinct is to quickly move on to the next prospect before the customer asks a question that you are afraid of answering out of fear that it will cause them to change their mind.
The problem is that even though you have an order, you haven’t finished the job of selling the customer. Your sales process doesn’t stop with an order. There is one more very important step to take. One that can make the difference between having a one-and-done customer and a long-term relationship with a loyal customer.
The most important sales call you make during the course of a sale is the first call you make to your customer after your receive their order.
To answer that question let’s first examine a couple immutable rules of what I call Andy’s Sales Calculus.
Sales Calculus Rule #1: Your Customer’s expectations for your product or service expand logarithmically in proportion to the number of sellers that they talked to. This rule is pretty easy to understand. In competitive sales situations, the customer has been promised so many features, advantages and benefits by so many different sellers that within 24 hours of making their decision, they have a hard time remembering which seller promised what. Instead, they have combined the best of what they heard and inflated it into a big fragile balloon of unreasonable expectations that is just waiting to pop.
Sales Calculus Rule #2: For every degree of positive expectation on the part of the customer there are 2 degrees of letdown when the realities of the features and functions you deliver don’t precisely align with their over-inflated expectations. Having your customer be unhappy with you because they believe that you overpromised and under-delivered, even though you gave them just what they ordered, is not the ideal way to embark on a long-term relationship with a customer.
I see this happen with salespeople all the time. Fortunately, it is easily, and completely, avoidable.
Your Task: Align The Customer’s Expectations To Your Commitments
Here is what you should do. After you have received and accepted an order from your customer pick up the phone and call the decision maker and/or the person who has responsibility for your product or service. Use your call notes, quotes and proposals to summarize and walk the customer back through their buying process. Highlight the key requirements the customer had for the product they were buying and review the commitments you made for how your product will meet or exceed those requirements. Review your proposal with the customer to make sure the he or she precisely understands the products and features you contracted to deliver. The objectives of this important sales call are to a) reinforce in the customer’s mind their requirements; b) refresh their memories about what they ordered (and why); and, c) clarify precisely what you are going to deliver and when. Your goal is to align the customer’s expectations with your committed deliverables to ensure that their first perception of your product or service is positive.
Don’t Give in to Fear
The prevailing philosophy in many sales organizations is that the absolute last thing you should do, as a salesperson, is call the customer immediately after you receive their order. Many sales managers and salespeople remain hostage to the irrational notion that you risk triggering a cancellation if you talk to the customer too soon after they have given you an order. In my work I have seen both sales managers and salespeople who believe that though the customer may have given them the order, they only did so with great reluctance. Thus, they are afraid that if they speak with the customer after the order is received, but before it is shipped, that the customer will give in to some monstrous case of buyer’s remorse that has been simmering just below the surface and ask to cancel the order. I guess that could happen. But, in more than 30 years of selling, I have never seen that happen even once.
Make the Call Today
The most important sales call you make will be the first call you make to your customer after they give you an order. It is not a coincidence that it will also be the first sales call you make for the next order this customer will give you.
Andy Paul is author of the award-winning book, Zero-Time Selling: 10 Essential Steps to Accelerate Every Company’s Sales. A sought-after speaker and business coach, Andy conducts workshops and consults with sales teams of all sizes to teach them how to use responsiveness, speed and intelligent processes to increase sales. Enjoy what you just read? Sign up for our regular digest of valuable Zero-Time Selling sales tips and strategies, “Selling with Maximum Impact.”
© Andy Paul 2013