Monday, August 8, 2011

The dreaded "Just checking in"

Craig Rosenberg insights on the flailing attempts of sales people to move the cycle forward is worth the read. Don't be that guy! That "guy" who is just "checking in". 

Tell your sales people they are forbidden to do a  "check in" with their prospects or clients. e.g. "HI ___; just "checking in". Honestly, it has zero value to the buyer and is frankly, embarrassing.  People rarely "check in" in their personal life unless someone is sick.  The sales person is implying they have nothing to offer or they think they have the right to start the conversation off with this so the buyer can update him/her.  No thanks.

Want to know why you aren't getting a response  or moving a deal along? "Checking in" is one reason.

Here are ways to avoid the "check in":

1.  Sales Intelligence -- there is a lot of information about your clients.  Doing 5 minutes of research will provide clues into what your approach should be.  The sales reps who emailed to congratulate me when they read I won an award -- memorable.

2.  Sales Intelligence Part II: Trigger Events -- this is Tibor Shanto and Craig Elias rallying cry and it makes sense.  There are events that happen in a decision maker's business life that are reasons to not just "check in" but go sell.  Here is an example: decision maker just announced that they need to double revenue this year. 

3.  Content -- there is an un-named sales person who "checks in" with me by sending me relevant content offerings.  By the way, she sends blog posts from people unrelated to her company! She is trying to check in by offering me something that makes a difference in my life.  She is creating a trusting, memorable relationship with me.  Oh and by the way, I will sometimes write back (unlike the "check in" emails I receive).

Now, some may say "But there is a reason to 'check in' during the sales cycle".  Typically, the sales person who "checks in" has lost control of a deal.  They don't know what is going on and need to find out more. 

1.  Always mutually agree on a next step or deliverable -- if you leave a call without some type of agreement, you will be FORCED to "check in".  I have heard stories in the old days of enterprise sales reps bringing calendars into sales meetings to create a time line with the prospect.  I like that, you know have something the prospect has agreed to allow you to ask for.  If you "check in", I don't have to get back to you.  If I owe you something, then I owe you a response.

2.  Don't be such a wimp -- this is a business relationship, don't use the "check-in" as a way to be passive-aggressive. Ask for what you want. If someone is supposed to send you their requirements, ask for that. 

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