All businesses have sales reps. Most large and medium-sized labs have at least a couple of them and even if you are the owner of a single-person lab, you have one . . . you!
I have been in some kind of sales role for the last 22 years, selling different products and I have even been a bartender. All of those positions required a special skill set. I have learned a lot, dealing with all types of customers. It took time to develop my sales strategies and techniques, and as a result of that experience, I found the single most important thing that separates the successful sales rep from the mediocre one.
It is quite simply ‘following up’ -- getting back to your customer after you have had interaction with them. I know it sounds almost too easy, but I can’t tell you how many times I have heard over the years, “Chris, we narrowed our buying decision down to two companies and you got our business because the other guy never called us back”.
My very first sales manager - and mentor to this day - shared Walmart’s Sundown Rule with me very early on in my career. The way he put it was to just make sure before the sun goes down every day, you respond to every customer that emailed you or left you a voicemail that day. As busy as we are most of the time, that isn’t easy, but it is a simple rule to follow. To some salespeople, that may seem logistically impossible, but not to the successful ones.
- 92% of all customer interactions happen over the phone, so don’t be afraid to use it to maintain your relationships and to learn about the potential customer’s needs.
- It takes an average of 8 cold call attempts to reach a prospect, so be persistent and determined.
- 30-50% of sales go to the vendor that responds first and follows up. Responsiveness is the key to selling successfully.
- 80% of sales require a minimum 5 follow-up calls after the initial contact. Just because you’ve got a foot in the door, doesn’t mean you’ve closed the sale. Keep up your persistence and do everything you can to stay connected with the prospect post your initial meeting.
- 55% of the people making their living in sales don’t have the right skills to be successful. You don’t want to be one of the, do you? Follow up and be successful!
As a sales person you may not always have the answer your customer is looking for. That’s why we have customer service or technical support, but I have found most people appreciate you letting them know that you do not have an answer, but are happy to look into it. Just knowing that you will get them the answer as soon as you can satisfies most customers. And then, of course, following up with the customer when you do get the information.
I still believe the old adage that people buy from people they like. It’s true, but they won’t like you as a sales rep for very long if you are not responding to their needs in a timely manner. If you or your sales reps follow the Sundown Rule and respond to the dentist’s request for information - and even more importantly, respond to them when there is an issue, you will start to build a relationship that will keep them coming back to your lab.
In the end to be successful as a sales person, lab owner or bartender, all you have to do is respond to a request for information with a call, an email or a drink right away.