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Three Reasons Sales Reps Don’t Follow Up

April 7, 2020

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In this episode of the Market Dominance Guys, Chris Beall talks with ConnectAndSell's Customer Success Manager, Donny Crawford drilling it down to the three reasons Sales Teams don't follow up. When we hire people to sell for us, whether it's to sell meetings or whether it's to sell deals, we tend to put them under a compensation regime that emphasizes this quarter. Need happens at this moment to match up with what you can provide. And in order to determine their need, you have to have a discovery conversation with them. And until you have a discovery conversation, you don't actually know whether they need your offering at all much.

As we know that mounts the pressure to meet numbers of calls but doesn't usually accomplish closing more deals. Learn how yes, no, not now affects our emotion tied to rejection and perception of rejection - the ability to keep our emotions in check. This is part one of a two-part session.


ConnectAndSell. ConnectAndSell allows your sales reps to talk to more decision-makers in 90 minutes than they would in a week or more of conventional dialing. Your reps can finally be 100% focused on selling since all of their CRM data entry and follow-up scheduling is fully automated within ConnectAndSell’s powerful platform. Your team’s effectiveness will skyrocket by using ConnectAndSell’s teleprompter capability as they’ll know exactly what to say during critical conversations. Visit, ConnectAndSell.com  

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The complete transcript of this episode is below:

https://marketdominanceguys.com/e/three-reasons-sales-reps-dont-follow-up/

Chris Beall (00:43):

Record away. Are we recording?

Corey Frank (00:45):

Oh, yeah, we're recording.

Chris Beall (00:46):

Fabulous, I'm so glad we're recording. I'll read your notes back to you.

Corey Frank (00:49):

There you go.

Chris Beall (00:50):

All right, so here's the thing about followups. When we hire people to sell for us, whether it's to sell meetings, or whether it's to sell deals, we tend to put them under a compensation regime that emphasizes this quarter's results. And then we say, well, next quarter's results will come as a result of work that you do now, which is pipeline building, and work that marketing does, which is bringing in new leads. But we don't tend to emphasize as management, the number one reason that you will do well in the next quarter, and the quarter after that, and the quarter after that. And it has to do with having multiple conversations, about one per quarter, with everybody who's relevant in your marketplace.

And the reason we need to do this, and this comes up to a fairly high level, is that in your market, say you've got a thousand folks in your market. In that market of a thousand, there's only going to be about 1 in 12 that are in market to take a meeting and potentially buy your product in this particular quarter in which you find yourself. And that's because the replacement cycle for almost every B2B product or service is about three years. That is, if I've just bought a CRM, I'm not looking to buy another CRM until at least three years have gone by. In that case, it might be more like five to seven. If I've just bought anything, any service whatsoever, I'm probably not in the market for that service again for about three years.

Now this varies by product, but the average is about three years, and three years have 12 quarters in them. And so, by math, only 1/12 of your market is coming into a part of their consideration cycle for your class of offering every quarter, 1/12 is coming into the consideration cycle every quarter. So that means you have two choices. You can either wait until they're ready, and talk to them for the first time, or you can talk to them about once a quarter and catch them in every quarter, in which they might be considering buying an offering like yours, or thinking about an offering like yours.

The former, which is wait until it's just the right time, has a problem. And the problem is, until you have a conversation with somebody ...

Corey Frank (03:21):

How do you know?

Chris Beall (03:21):

... you don't know when the right time is for them. So that comes back to a higher-level idea, which is, sales is actually a form of search. You don't make things happen in sales, you find opportunities in sales where somebody's need happens in this moment to match up with what you provide. And in order to determine their need, you have to have a discovery conversation with them. And until you have a discovery conversation, you don't actually know whether they need your offering at all, much less what they need it now.

So how do you get discovery conversations? You have calls to people in which you attempt to set a meeting, whose purpose is to educate them with regard to something in your market, preferably to offer them some information about something that is of economic value to them, which is about risk, time, or money, or something of emotional value, which might be about frustration or disappointment, or even fear, or something of strategic value, which is about where they're trying to go and what stepping stones they need to step on in order to get there. And in that discovery meeting, you're going to explore down those avenues. And if something resonates, then you're going to come up with next steps, and you're going to follow that process through to either a transaction, or a decision that they make either to go with a competitor or go with nobody to solve their problem.

And so, here you are as a sales rep, you're thrown into a situation where you were encouraged to focus on the current quarter, but your opportunities, 11 out of 12 of them, are in future quarters. And so, what are you going to do about that? Well, it turns out the easiest thing to do about that is simply to talk to every relevant person about once a quarter. And when they finally do take a meeting you know that their interest level is high enough that they're worth doing discovery with, and then you can go down the path with.

So that's the big reason to do followups is, unless we speak to everybody in our market once a quarter who's relevant, then we have a problem. And the problem is, when they finally are ready to buy and we haven't spoken to them, they're more likely to buy from somebody else. So in a sense, our education of anybody that we don't follow up with, when we're educating them now, but not following up layer, we're actually working for our competitor. Because we're doing the competitor's work of educating the market, everybody has to educate the market, and then we're leaving the business to the competitor when it's finally time for the prospect to buy.

So that's the big high-level reason. Now, why don't reps do it? Well, one they're not comped to do it. It's a speculative, [inaudible 00:06:12] investment time. They put their time in and they don't know if the investment's going to pay off. So that's part of it. So they're not sure that they should do it because they don't really understand the impact. And in particular, they don't look forward to quarters and ask, hey, if I'd follow it up with everybody from two quarters ago and talk to them the next quarter, except those that I disqualified and those that I actually held meetings with, what would my pipeline look like now?

Well, it'd look a lot richer because it would include folks who are getting closer to that point in time when they're ready to consider your product. They pile up, and as they pile up, more and more of them convert. But if we're not speaking with them, they don't pile up and therefore, they don't convert. So that's the why from the rep perspective is, if you look out two, three, four quarters, and you look at your paycheck, you'll find that your paycheck will be much, much bigger if the conversations that you're having with people in that quarter include more people who are ready to buy.

And by definition, if they're going to buy some time in the next three years, they're more likely to buy between now and three quarters from now than they are in the past. So that's just simple math, but it's hard to kind of comprehend, especially when you're being effectively paid on making quarterly numbers or even annual numbers, which don't tend to line up with how people buy. So part of it is management, not compensating in a way that makes sense, so the rep has got to take it on themselves to make the investment. The investment is of their time and they don't know the impact. Part of it is they don't know how. And by don't know how, I don't mean they don't know how to click the button and connect themselves. That's-

Corey Frank (08:04):

Sure. They need the mechanics, right?

Chris Beall (08:05):

... I want to talk to them. They know the mechanics, they might know the mechanics, but they're not in practice. We don't ever do anything regularly that we don't do regularly. It's like your rowing machine. If you are rowing every day, then rowing every day is easy. But when you never row, you don't go over there and start on the rowing machine. Starting things is hard, and continuing things is easy. That's why we tend not to start things because we don't like the commitment that comes from knowing that we'll then continue it. So-

Corey Frank (08:30):

And it's painful to start back up if you haven't been in the habit of doing it. And so you actually don't realize the benefits. You slowly are benefiting it over time because they start to actually come into play day after day after day. And that's the only way to realize how beneficial they are, is by actually experiencing them.

Corey Frank (10:00):

I like that quote that Sean [inaudible 00:10:04] put on one of your posts, and it was a quote from Blount. What was it? Basically, he said something about the 30 days, right? It's, the work you do in this next 30 days is actually going to pay off 90 days away from now, which is three months, which is so far in the future, but you got to do it now in order to really start benefiting from them 90 days out. And Blount was saying that in a particular way. He said, "I'm thinking about not just the next 30 days, but I'm thinking about what's happening in three months, in six months in nine months", that kind of thing.

Chris Beall (10:46):

... And it's up to management to sit with reps, or now get on a Zoom video with reps, and say, hey, let's look back and note, when you did follow up, how much good it did and how much money you made. And all they have to do is say that, and if the answer is there is none, it's because you didn't follow up. So let's start now. You have to plant a tree before you can harvest the fruit. So let's plant that tree now and then let's pay attention to it, and watch it grow and nurture it. And look back from that future, from that 90 days out 120 days, 150 days out, and ask, what does it look like back to this time? And we're likely to see good results. But they don't know how in that, if you don't do it all the time, you don't even recognize that this is a followup situation that should be taken advantage of.

The most common one is the short call or the hangup, or the angry exit. So most reps don't like that because of the third point, which is the psychology. They're offended. And Jeb Blount wrote a book about this, and it was called Objections. You've read it, and I've read it, and we all think it's important. And he basically says, take objections, and we teach them ... We treat them unconsciously, inevitably, as rejection. And until we learn to handle that reaction, we will end up walking away from opportunities because we don't have our emotions in control, and our emotions lead us away from optimal action.

The optimal action when somebody hangs up on you is to set a followup for a week out, and make a teleprompter that says, hi, so-and-so, when we spoke on this day, you didn't have time for a conversation. Is now a better time? And the fact that you were caring enough to call them back, the fact that you know, the date, the fact that you claim to have had a conversation with them, which they don't remember at all, right, will allow them to more easily open up and have a conversation with you. They might ask you a question. When did we speak? And you say, oh, I called you at 2:38, and you were really, really in a hurry, and it made sense to me. You just got off the phone really quickly. And so I think that ... what I want to talk to you about is I think just amazingly important for almost everybody's business, but I don't know if it's important for years. And then ...

Corey Frank (13:23):

And then let it go. And then let them determine whether they're going to hang up on you again or not, right?

Chris Beall (13:28):

Yeah. That's why I want to talk to you. Well, what is it that you offer? Oh, well, the way we like to say it is that, I believe we've discovered a breakthrough. And then you do your breakthrough. So that one is the one that's hardest. Matt Forbes-

Corey Frank (13:43):

Psychology [inaudible 00:13:44], yeah.

Chris Beall (13:44):

... and I spent a long, long set of lobster dinners one night to get him over this hump, because he just said, well, they hung up on me. They hung up. Nobody hangs up on me. I said, well, actually, a lot of people hang up on you, man. Because a lot of people hang up on everybody. So if you were advising somebody else and you were just looking at the business impact, how would you advise them? Oh, I'd have them call. Why? Well, because something good might happen. That's part of the why, but the rest of the why is, guess what? This is somebody that we know something about, that's incredibly valuable. This is somebody who answers their phone. And if [inaudible 00:14:26] folks who answer their phone, if we had known in advance they answer the phone without having to call them, we would've just called that list. But we don't.

Corey Frank (14:33):

Yeah, just that list. Exactly.

Chris Beall (14:36):

But we know that list. They coughed up that information to us answering the phone. And we don't know how often they answer the phone, but we know they answered it once, which is a lot more than zero times. So our psychology tells us, I've been rejected, I don't want to talk to somebody who rejected me. The fact is, they made an objection. They didn't care to talk with you, they didn't have time, or for whatever reason. And they objected strongly enough that they hung up on you. And so, if you can take that objection and say, that's fantastic. And this is the key to the psychology. When somebody hangs up on you, non sarcastically, you need to say to yourself, fantastic. This is somebody that I know answers the phone.

I'm going to talk to them again, and I'm going to talk to them about a week from now and see how it goes. So that's open-minded, and then you put in the teleprompter that thing I just said, which is, when we spoke on this date, you didn't have time for a conversation. All the other ones compared to that one psychologically are super easy because you had a further conversation. However, there's another psychology element. And this comes back to don't know how and don't know why, which is, when somebody says something to you that is any other objection that is not indicating to you definitely that they're intrinsically disqualified, you should talk to them next quarter. Because there's only four possibilities in a sales conversation, yes, no, not me, not now.

And we lump everything about not knowing that some prospect is disqualified into not now. Why? Because until we talk to them, we don't really know anything about them. So we can't talk to them in the past, we must therefore talk to them in the future. And that's the definition of not now. How far in the future? One quarter. Why? Because the basic unit of time for considering any new category of offering, not your offering, but any new category of offering, is about one quarter.

Corey Frank (16:51):

It's happening quarterly, right? Yeah.

Chris Beall (16:54):

Yeah. You're going to apply something, you're going to consider it within a quarter. So put it out one quarter. Don't think, put it out there. And that's another thing is don't think. And then, write a teleprompter that says, when we spoke on this date, you said whatever, and I'm curious about whatever. And that's it.

Corey Frank (16:54):

That's it.

Chris Beall (17:18):

And then you let the conversation flow. So that's a big part of the psychology is, you don't want to do what you don't know how to do, and if you don't really know how to do it, you really don't want to do it, especially if your emotions are involved in a negative way. And so you need a ledge, as Jeb Blount calls it, an emotional ledge to cling to when the objection comes that feels like rejection. The worst one is the hangup. So your ledge is a word or two that you say to yourself or you say out loud. Don't say it to them, they're [inaudible 00:17:55]. But you say it out loud, listen to yourself say it, and set the followup. So what I say is, fantastic, just exactly like that.

Corey Frank (18:05):

A fat person answers the phone.

Chris Beall (18:08):

[inaudible 00:18:08] person answered the phone. I'm going to talk to him again next week. And that's your ledge. And you need that ledge the same way that you need something to say to yourself. Say you're weightlifting, and you're to the last rep that you can do before failure. You need to encourage yourself at point, right? It doesn't happen by itself. That weight doesn't jump up off your chest, or wherever you're trying to get it all by itself. This is the one that you're going to have to push. Until then it's like, eh, no biggie, right? And this is why we have spotters, so when we lift ... because we might [inaudible 00:18:46]. We may [inaudible 00:18:48].

Corey Frank (18:47):

That's our managers. That's our managers making sure we keep doing it.

Chris Beall (18:50):

Exactly. Exactly. Managers spot this when we drop the weight on her chest, and somebody needs to help come get it off. But in general, we should be able to talk for ourselves and get that weight up one more time. And you know, we need self talk, and the self talk needs to be completely routine, set in the right tone of voice, very positive. And by the way, it has to specify why it's positive. Because when we're talking to ourselves, it's just like we're talking to a prospect. If we don't say why, they don't believe us. So if we don't say why to ourselves, we don't believe ourselves. Fantastic, you're somebody who answers the phone. I'm going to talk to them again next quarter.

Corey Frank (19:33):

I love that. I love that.

Chris Beall (19:36):

You're done. So that's kind of the idea. Now why do people believe that their followups can be done manually more effectively than ConnectAndSell? They believe that for two reasons. One is they feel like they need to prep for the followup. What was the last conversation about? What do I need to think about before I talk to this person? They have to ready themselves. And there's some truth to that, but you're going to make a trade off, and that is, say it took 22 dials on average to get somebody on your list on the phone. Now you've got somebody who answers the phone. So your answers the phone list is now down to a [inaudible 00:20:15], right?

So they don't always answer the phone, you don't know. So say your new dial to connect for that list is, it takes 12 dials. So now here's the trade off. If it takes 12 dials, still 12 dials can navigate to failure 11 times. Your mood is going to be pretty poor by the time you finally get somebody. It's still going to be a surprise because you don't expect to talk to them. So now you're going to have a different problem, which is, your preparation didn't prepare you for anything but leaving a voicemail. And leaving a voicemail is a one-shot thing. You can't leave voicemails over and over and over for somebody just because you had one conversation with them a quarter ago. You didn't earn that many voicemails.

So you have another psychology problem and a performance problem ahead of you if you decide to manually call. You won't be ready for the live conversation when it happens. And that's a serious problem. So what to do about that? Well, take the other side of the bet, which is, if I could talk to somebody on my followup list, and now it's going to take two minutes instead of four minutes. So that's kind of nice, like a little reward. It's faster. And I know what to say, it's right there in my teleprompter. All I have to manage is my attitude, my mood. But I always have to manage my attitude, in both cases.

So instead of peaking for the big conversation that doesn't happen, the big conversation that doesn't happen, the big conversation that doesn't happen, I don't have to peak at all. I can just relax and know that my teleprompter's going to tell me what to say, and I'm going to say it. And that's it. So it's a trade off, and that trade off has got to be explicitly made by the rep. So then, now I know why I shouldn't do it manually because I still have a 1 in 12 chance or one in eight chance, or whatever, and I'm not going to be as good. And by the way, it's going to cost me half an hour, and half an hour is a lot more than two minutes. So what could I have done with those 28 minutes? Well, I could've talked to four more people.

Corey Frank (22:17):

Talked to more people, exactly.

Chris Beall (22:18):

I could've talked to four more people, given that sales is search, I have to talk to people. So if I talk to more people per day, that's good. My followup list lets me talk to more people per day, which lets me search more of this space for someone who has or might have the problem that my company offers a solution for.