Success in sales is dependent upon intelligent repetition of contact. We need to be able to reach out to people lots of times, in lots of different ways and keep them engaged with us and very few salespeople have mastered this skill.
David: Hi and welcome to the podcast! Today co-host Chris Templeton and I will be talking about how to create intelligent repetition of contact with prospects and clients. Hi Chris.
Chris: Hi David. Thanks for having me. I’m really, really excited to talk about this one because I think it’s so, so important. Repetition of contact, you know, it seems that any sales position requires this. What is it that gives you the sense that salespeople aren’t doing this or maybe just as importantly, aren’t doing it well?
David: Couple of things, if you’ve ever heard a salesperson say, “I don’t want to be a pest,” that to me is a screaming red flag, right? Because what that generally means is they’re not following up with people enough. They’re not being in touch enough because they don’t want to create waves. They don’t want to bother the person or whatever. And to me that’s a function of not being very clear about your outcome for the conversation because your goal is not simply to follow up with people and get on the phone and nag them until they’re ready to buy. If you are doing that, then yes, that’s being a pest, but don’t do that. You know? Think in terms of what you actually want to accomplish, have reasons and excuses for contacting people so that when you are reaching out, you’re actually providing value in the conversation, in the communication. If you do that, you’ll be advancing the dialogue. You’ll be helping your prospects and you will not come across as a pest.
Chris: And I imagine that the other thing is that if a sales guy says, “I don’t want to be a pest,” especially to a potential client, they already feel like they are one.
David: Well, yeah, because you’re planting that thought in their mind, the fact that you’re thinking it and then let alone vocalizing. Even if you don’t say it, if you’re thinking, “Oh, I’m afraid I’m going to be a pest,” it’s going to come through in your voice and you’re not going to sound as confident as you need to sound and it’s not going to be helpful. If you actually say it out loud, “Hey listen, I don’t want to be a pest.” Then immediately their thought is you just said you don’t want to be a pest. I now have to process the word pest in my brain and then draw a line through it because you’re saying you don’t want to be that. And maybe just by saying it, you’re being a pest. So, I think it could be a self-esteem thing, but if you can just sort of get over this idea that you’re being a pest. Part of it though, and I always believe that confidence is tied to competence. If we’re good at what we do, we’re going to feel a lot more confident doing it. And so if you’re not quite sure what to do, what to say, who to approach, how to approach them, then yeah, you’re going to feel like that. And you might feel like you’re being a pest, so if you’re feeling that way before you go into the call, ask yourself, “Okay, what can I do to add value in this communication so that what I’m saying to them is helpful to them.” because then that way I can be reasonably assured that I’m not being a pest.
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Chris: Isn't a big piece of that in terms of adding value in a conversation about really being focused on your prospective client as opposed to focused on selling the product?
David: Absolutely. Focused on their results. What is it that they want to accomplish? What do they need to have happen as a result of making this purchase? Just focusing on their goals, their desires, their outcomes, and when you're focused on them it becomes a lot easier. I remember one of the first live training presentations I did, it was in Las Vegas and it was a really long session. It was actually a full day training. Essentially it went from 9:00 AM until 5:00 PM with breaks about every couple of hours. And I was young and stupid, so I was just so fired up that I didn't really care. And so I went in and I did that, you know, I did the presentation and it went very well and I was very happy with it. And someone came up to me afterwards and said, “Wow, weren't you nervous when you were doing that?” And my immediate response was that I really wasn't. And the reason I wasn't nervous is because I wasn't thinking about it from my standpoint. I wasn't thinking, “Oh, I have to get up and talk to these people.” I was so excited to share what I had to tell them that it was all about them and I could get up there and be excited about it and not feel nervous because I knew that the information that I had to share was going to help them, because it was stuff that I wish someone would've told me when I was getting started or when I needed access to that information. And so I think for salespeople, if you can approach it the same way, if you're thinking in terms of what is going to help them to accomplish their results. You're going to be far less self-conscious, you're going to be far less nervous, and you'll be far more focused on delivering a message that will be helpful to them and increase your confidence.
Chris: And when I'm focused on that person, I'm in such a better place and I lose all of that kind of angst of why I'm calling and that sort of thing. Just like you were describing in that training.
David: Right. You make it about them.
Chris: It really changes how you approach things, doesn't it?
David: It does and it changes the way that people perceive you because they pick up on it. This is not something that can be easily faked. I don't know that it can be faked at all. There are some people who try, but I think it's usually transparent. I've seen people who tried to do the whole schmoozy thing where they try to come across as, you know, sort of authentic, but you can tell that underneath it all it's just not happening. And so that's a big thing too, is that if you're learning that type of approach from someone who does it like that and you're not comfortable with it, that's not going to come across well at all.
Chris: Boy, the whole fake it ‘til you make it thing is just not the best way to approach this is it?
David: No. And I think the idea of fake it ‘til you make it, if you are not completely comfortable and you can sort of work through something and try to give it your best effort, I think there's merit to that. But the idea of faking who you are, trying to come across as something that you're not, particularly if it involves being good to customers - if you've got ulterior motives and you're just trying to get the money out of them, I think that is probably about the worst case scenario.
Chris: And really it goes back to what we've talked about in terms of learning. You know, if your approach as a sales guy is, I'm out to learn. Man, does that help get rid of that kind of angst. So, one of the things that we talked about in previous podcast was MVP of marketing: Message, Vehicle, and People talk about how this applies to that process.
David: Well, intelligent repetition of contact is all about the MVPs of marketing and sales. It's all about intelligent repetition of contact in the sense that when we're reaching out to people on a frequent basis, it's always going to be about the message. What is the message we want to communicate, the marketing vehicles, the combination of marketing vehicles that we want to use to communicate that message. If we're going to be in touch with people again and again and again, we want to make sure that we're mixing it up, that it's coming across a little different, that it's coming across with a different dynamic. And the best way to do that sometimes is to change the messaging around a bit, change the marketing vehicles around. I can say something via email. I can say something slightly different or something similar on the phone. Has a different dynamic. If I say something similar or whatever in a podcast or in a video or whatever sort of communication I'm doing. If I'm consistent in the big parts of what I'm saying, then it's not as annoying. Right? But if I just call somebody again and again, have you ever traveled in a car with small children?
Chris: Ah, yes. Yes. Yes David I have.
David: Okay. So what's the big question they constantly ask when you're going on a long trip.
Chris: “When are we going to get there?”
David: Yeah! “Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet?” There are salespeople who take an are we there yet approach to sales or they just call somebody on the phone, “Hey, are you ready to buy? You're ready to place that order?” Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet? And that's not endearing. You know, that's not fun and it's not the kind of thing that people generally appreciate. And so, if you're able to mix it up a bit, you mix up the messaging, you mix up the combination of marketing vehicles you're using. Now if this is just going to the same person, intelligent repetition of contact is not so much about people at that point cause you're going out to the same person again and again and again. So, you're saying, okay, how can I alter the message slightly? How can I change it? How can I change the delivery mechanism so that I'm not just saying the same thing exactly the same way over and over? I want to keep it interesting and fresh so that I'll get the response that I need.
Chris: How much of this is about mixing the message between education, information versus sales?
David: Well, I think we really want to lead with information that's going to be helpful and we only want to get into the specific sales stuff when we're starting to close in on exactly what they need, and when they need it, and how much it's going to cost, and when they need to take delivery, and all that sort of thing. So it sort of evolves. I think with most salespeople, they recognize that it's almost like a funnel. Very often people refer to sales as a funnel and if you think at the top of the funnel as being more general and establishing some sort of rapport and bonding and that sort of thing, and then working your way down to the nitty-gritty, the specifics of what it is that you're going to be providing and what it costs and all that sort of thing. I think that can evolve pretty naturally. But yes, the messaging is going to change from the beginning, the early stage conversations, to the middle stage conversations to the conversations that lead up to the close.
Chris: That's a great point. And having that mix in place. You know, a lot of this sounds like it's about using scripts and my sense is a sales guy reading a script is - that's like the last thing a good salesperson wants to do. Is that what you're suggesting?
David: I'm not suggesting that they use scripts. I may be suggesting that they at least have some bullet points that they want to hit, a general idea of what they want to accomplish in each communication. Where am I going with this?
Chris: That's a great way to put it.
David: People need to figure out sort of the gist of what it is that they want to say. If you have a purpose for your communication, if you know what it is that you want to communicate going in, then the likelihood of getting the results you want is greatly increased. If you're just going in with the idea of winging it or touching base or connecting or following up, then it's just not likely to result in what you're looking for.
Chris: So really when it comes right down to it, it's about purpose. What's the purpose? Some bullets that are gonna help you stay on track without it being fully scripted and what the results are that you're looking for at the end of the call. Right?
David: Right. And you don't have to accomplish a hundred different things in a call. If you have one primary thing you want to accomplish, you can keep it brief. You can keep it focused and people will appreciate that you're valuing their time when you do that. So it doesn't have to be a big thing. It doesn't have to drive you crazy. But you just need to know what is the purpose of this communication and how can I get the result that I need?
Chris: A little practice doesn't hurt, does it?
David: No, and that's what we should be doing every day. Every time we're in touch with a prospect or client, it is practice. Most professions recognize this. If I go to a doctor, a doctor operates a medical practice. If I need an attorney, it's a legal practice. If sales is going to be a profession, it's going to need to be a practice, which means we're constantly practicing. We're trying new things, we're trying new approaches. We're seeing what works best to get the results that our clients are looking for.
Chris: It is so well put and I think it's so easy to lose that both from a management perspective and from the guy who's doing sales. “I just need to get out there.” This is a practice. What can I learn? How can I be better? If you have that as your primary kind of underlying motivation along with generating sales. Man, oh man, that's a big step in the right direction, isn't it?
David: It certainly should be and I think for the people who practice it, it just makes everything a lot easier.
Chris: So, in terms of keeping things easier, how important do you think it is to have a solid contact management system for this process?
David: Every salesperson needs to have a solid contact management system. Whether it's software, whether it's paper-based, it really doesn't matter. Some people use Excel and they're able to do it there. The most important thing about a contact management system is that you know: who you've spoken to, when you've spoken to them, what you've talked about and what the next steps are, when you're going to be speaking with them again. If you can get that documented, if you can get that systematized to the point where if it's on a calendar for example, and you flip the pages over and now it's the next day and you know who you need to talk to and what you need to talk to them about, that is going to be one of the most helpful things.
There was a salesperson years ago, I've told this story in live sessions. It was just one of the most memorable experiences I ever had. There was a woman, her name was Nancy King Farlow from Marketing Bulletin Board. They sold postcard deck advertising, and Nancy King Farlow was a genius at intelligent, thoughtful follow up. Because what she would do better than anyone I had ever met previously and anyone I have ever talked to since - (certainly does it better than I do, although I still aspire to this day) - is that she was able to pick up the conversation exactly where the last one left off. And when I originally had a conversation with her, we were looking at doing postcard deck advertising, which was a thing back then where businesses would spend money to have a postcard in a deck of postcards and it would go out to marketing managers and marketing managers would rifle through this deck and see if there's something they were interested in. And so you'd pay a certain amount of money that would go out to whatever, 100,000 sales and marketing managers across the country.
And she was selling this product and when she first approached me about it, it sounded great and it sounded like something that I wanted to do in my business. And when she told me the price, I sort of swallowed hard. And I was like, “Oh, okay, yeah, well you know, that sounds really good, but not a real good time at the moment. We're just in the process of moving and so I think we're going to have to put this off for a little while.” And she said, “Okay, that's no problem. When do you anticipate you'll have your move completed?” And I said, “Well, we should probably be good in about 90 days or so. We should be moved within 90 days.” She said, “Okay, well no problem. I'll give you a call back.” And I'm like, “Okay, great!” And as many prospects think, it's like you've slipped the noose, right? You're sort of wiping your forehead and going, wow, I slipped that one and you promptly forget about the conversation you had. And in a lot of cases that's fine because the salesperson never contacts you again. They just forget about you. If they don't have a decent contact management system in place, they forget about you or they don't remember the conversation. Or they might call you back later and say, Hey, I sell postcard deck advertising. Is this something you're interested in? And then you say no, and the conversation's over right? Not so Nancy King Farlow. No, no, no. She was great. About 89 days later. Chris, I get a phone call. Pick up the phone. “David Blaise.” “David. Hi Nancy King Farlow calling from Marketing Bulletin Board. How did the move go?” I'm like, “I'm sorry. Who is this?” “Nancy King Farlow for Marketing Bulletin Board. You'll recall we talked about three months ago you said you were in the process of the move, you'd really like to do some postcard deck advertising, but the timing wasn't good. I was just wondering; how did the move go?” “Good went well. It was fine. Thank you.” “Okay, so what are you thinking in terms of postcard deck advertising?” “Well yeah, still kind of busy. Still sort of settling in. Not really a good time.” “No problem at all. When would be a good time to be back in touch?” 89 days later, I get another phone call. “David hi! Nancy King Farlow calling from Marketing Bulletin Board. Are you all settled into your new facility?” All right, so what she did, which was pure genius, is that she took whatever I said, accepted it as fact, and then led off with it in the next conversation and I just thought she was brilliant. I just thought she was gifted. I thought she was some sort of sales savant who just knew how to do this.
And it wasn't until years later that I realized, you can do this if you've got a decent contact management system in place. You just write down what it is that the person said. You put it out, whatever, 90 days you can say, talk to this person, this is where they left off. Right? And later, I sort of kid about this, I can sort of picture Nancy King Farlow sitting in some sort of call center smoking a cigarette and going, “Okay, I got to talk to this guy about his daughter's dance recital.” And she calls me like, Oh yeah, and that's really what it got down to as eventually. It's like “David hi, Nancy King Farlow calling. How did your daughter's dance recital go?” I'm like, “Oh yes, Nancy, so great to hear from you.” So you know, long story short, of course, eventually I did end up buying the postcard deck advertising. It did too well, in that we got more leads than we could handle. We got swamped. We didn't have the people to be able to follow up with it, but it was a very good investment and I'm glad I did it, but more than anything else, I'm glad that I was able to learn from her and say, wow, if we can aspire to something like this, our businesses will be a hundred times better.
Chris: And I think one of the things that's really important about what you told in this story was her nonresistance. She was like, that's fine. And at some point, you know, initially there's that. Okay, she called back again and then the third or the fourth call you're like, “Oh hey Nancy, how are you doing? You know, I haven't gotten there, but I actually am thinking about this…” and without that resistance and without that feeling of I've got to sell on this call. It put her in a whole better light with you, didn't it?
David: Well, yeah, because let's imagine that the first time we have the conversation I say, “Well we're in the process of a move and it wouldn't be good. Like maybe 90 days would be good.” And if she were to say, “Well, you know, we've got this special running right now and if you want to get in the deck for next month and we really need to get your artwork in today, do you have any artwork ready?” Like if she pulled something like that, that would be such a turnoff. And it makes it easier to say, “Well no, really this is not a good time and I can't do it.” And then I can get mad at her for that. Right? Prospects can get mad at you when you take an approach like that. But when you take an approach that says, look, if you want to do this, I'm happy to help you with it. And that's the vibe I got from her. She's happy to help me with it. If I don't want to do it, it's going to be my loss. I'm not going to be in the next deck that goes out. It's going out to 100,000 people. I'm not going to be represented. I already know that. She didn't have to lecture me on it. I already knew that. So she knew the value of what she was selling. She believed in that. She was able to communicate it well and she didn't have to do that in a way that would make me feel like I needed to be doing it right now or else I was going to lose out.
Chris: And in terms of repetition of contact, she did it intelligently, didn't she?
David: Yes, she did better than anyone I've known.
Chris: Okay. Let's talk about, what are the action steps to implement intelligent repetition of contact?
Intelligent Repetition of Contact
- Consider what you can say that will be interesting and valuable to your prospect.
- Think in terms of your reasons and excuses for contact.
- Sequence Your Communication instead of one-off messaging.
- Bonus: Pick up the next conversation right where the last one left off.
David: All right, well I'd start with considering what you can say that will be interesting and valuable to your prospect. If you've had previous conversation, take notes. Where did the last conversation leave off? Can I lead with that? And if they said they were going on vacation and they were going to France and you're having a conversation a month or so later, you can lead off with that. “Hey Chris, how was France? I've always wanted to go there.” Right? And they'll be happy to tell you about that and they will also be happy that you paid attention to what they said. And this is something that I've stressed so often to salespeople in live presentations. Sometimes when you do this just right, people are going to feel heard and they're going to feel heard in a way that they might not even feel heard at home. It's like my family and friends and loved ones don't listen to me as closely as this salesperson does! And when you can achieve that, when you can accomplish that, it's just like magic. So that's the first thing. Consider what you can say that will be interesting and valuable to your prospect. Pay attention to what they say. Repeat it back to them. Pick up that next conversation where the last one left off as much as possible. Second, think in terms of the reasons and the excuses for contact. Like the reason I'm contacting is that you mentioned you have an event coming up and I wanted to make sure we didn't miss your deadline. That's a reason. An excuse for following up would be something like, Hey, I saw this article and I thought you would find it interesting. So think in terms of both reasons and excuses and you can mix up exactly what they mean to you, but if you think of those as two different things, the excuse is: that I saw this thing, or the excuse is: I was talking to somebody - it reminded me of a conversation that we had and I wanted to get this to you while it was still fresh in my mind. That type of thing. It will allow you to mix it up and engage in that intelligent repetition of contact rather than just being annoying. And repetitive. And then the third thing is instead of one off messaging, if you start thinking in terms of sequencing your communication, right? It's not just I'm trying to sell you this. When are you ready to buy it? It's like, how can I communicate different messages over a longer period of time - if necessary. If they're ready to buy the first call, you don't need to do it, but if you're prepared, then you're not going to find yourself in a situation where you don't know what to say and you say something like, “Hi Chris, I'm just calling to follow up.” Just brutal.
Chris: Oh No!
David: We've all done it!
Chris: We all have, oh man, have we ever. You know what? Intelligent repetition of contact is so important. It should be fun. It should be easy. Nonresistant. Something that you enjoy doing, that you have a little bit of a plan for, that really makes sense. And when you can do that, you end up with a relationship and somebody when they're ready are going to think of you first. Isn't that the bottom line?
David: That's it. If you can be engaging in your communications, people will actually look forward to talking to you instead of dreading it.
Chris: Okay, let's wrap up with what's coming on our next podcast.
David: Okay, in our next podcast, we will be talking about re-qualifying our clients. Right now, your existing client base is in one of five different levels of qualification ranging from ready to buy now to absolutely uninterested. In our next podcast, we will talk about those levels of qualification and why it's so important to do it with your clients right now.
Chris: David Blaise topsecrets.com if anybody wants to find out more and wants to have a call, go to topsecrets.com/call for a free session about what you're doing and how you can have intelligent repetition of contact in your sales process. Thanks, David.
David: Thank you, Chris.
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