Picking up the phone to call clients or prospects can be difficult for many sales people. I’ve heard all sorts of excuses. “The timing isn’t right,” “I just sold them something,” “they aren’t happy with us” or “I have nothing to say.” There is no time like the present, and the best part is you don’t need a reason!
I recently received a phone call from someone I’ve done business with for over ten years. I buy from him often as he has earned my trust and my business. He called to say hello and see how I was since I hadn’t spoken with him for a few months. During the call, he didn’t push me for business, instead it was a nice casual catch-up. When I think about how he has retained me as a customer for so many years, I see that it is small things like this – the personal touch. His pricing is no longer as important to me as it was at the beginning of our working relationship.
Calling to check in when you don’t have something to sell is a powerful way to continue to build your relationship. Business is dynamic – remember clients spend relatively little time on you and your product. Your clients are engaged with many different activities in running their business. The extra call to touch base can be a big differentiator, as few people do this, yet it so fundamental. There is no reason to stress – you’re not selling anything. Calling them shows that you care about them and their business. To make this work, here are some pointers:
- Keep it real
Be authentic. Nobody likes to feel like they are being manipulated. Tell them you have not connected in a while and you wanted to see how they are doing. Ask questions, have a conversation as you would if you were out socially. Maybe they take the conversation towards a vacation or sports event. Many different topics may spur on good conversations.
- Make it about them
Engage them, tell them you’re checking in. Perhaps you saw an article that would appeal to them, either professionally or personally. Call and tell them about it.
- Don’t overstay your welcome
Yes, they are busy. If you feel like it’s time to go, don’t keep them. Be sensitive to timing, but do let them know you were thinking about them and thought you would give them a quick call to check in.
In the case of a long-time client, remember the excitement of when they started with your Firm? Sometimes that gets lost as complacency sets in. You can bet your competition is calling them.
Another benefit, aside from differentiation through caring, is that they may take the opening to tell you about a new opportunity or something that is not going right with the relationship. Wouldn’t you want to know? Have you ever been on a call where someone has said, “as long as I have you on the phone…”? They then proceed to tell you or ask you something that might not otherwise occur. The key to open dialog starts with dialog!
Building a business relationship that stands the test of time does not happen overnight. Like any relationship, it takes time, patience and extra effort.
Calling to check in is an approach that is simple and often requires very little prep work outside of staying abreast of current events as they relate to your clients and prospects.
If you only speak with your clients when you have something to sell or fixing a problem, you’re missing a great opportunity to further your relationship and earn future business. Stand out from the pack of the inexperienced, “leading-question-asking” sales people. Build relationships that last. Pick up the phone and call to check in when there is no apparent reason. Tomorrow you say? How about now…