First impressions truly count, and so does every single one after that. Join Doug C. Brown in this solo episode, where he uses stories of personal experiences and lessons learned from his long career in sales to discuss how companies can improve their communication. He also shares helpful strategies for improving your follow up skills, and how to make follow up work for your business.
CEO of Business Success Factors and creator of Sales Revenue Growth University, where he teaches the best sales revenue growth strategies for companies who are serious about their sales growth. These are the same strategies and methodologies that he used to increase a company’s close rate by 862% and their revenue growth by 116% – all within four months.
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The show is all about how you increase your revenues and the profitability of your company. One of the things that people don’t think about very much is their communication. What does that mean? Think about it. Your external and internal communication, everything that you do in communication is a message. When you are talking about external communication, which I’m going to focus on most here, what will happen is you are sending messages out or you are doing something that’s creating a message. That message impacts the number of sales that you will actually get. You might hear me talk about some companies here and it will be like, “Doug is beating up on these companies.”
The truth be told, I am, and there was a reason for it because these companies are making gross errors in their communications. Remember, you want to increase meaningful communication with your clientele and your potential buyers because they want value added. Let me give you a couple of examples of crazy stuff that happened to me. They are not huge sales but this is stuff that’s happened in my personal life. For example, I’m at a place and I’m like, “I want to learn how to play a new musical instrument. What’s the hardest musical instrument probably out there? Let’s try to play the flute.” I decided I’m going to try to play the flute. I did my research. I called some companies. I call one called Music & Arts.
I called and talked to this lady. She’s a nice gal. Her name was Emily. I said, “Emily, I’m at this age here. I have studied Music in the past. I don’t want a bad start out flute. I want something in the middle because I’m going to stay with this.” It’s a lovely conversation. We talked. Everything was going well. She said to me, “I don’t know if I have a music teacher for you but I will get back to you, and then you could either rent this flute or buy this flute.” “What was the cost of the flute?” “Somewhere around $1,000.” Some flutes are far more and far less than that but I want you to keep this in your mind, $1,000.
Why am I asking you to keep this in mind? We are going to monetize this. Emily tells me she’s going to call me back. Emily doesn’t call me back. The next day, I decided I’m going to go to this music store, talk with them and figure out what happened. Emily has zero follow-ups so far. What is a follow-up? Communication, follow-up is a meaning. It gives you a feeling. It’s either value add or value nothing. In other words, if you don’t follow up, confidence drops, rapport drops, trust drops, all things start happening. In my head, I’m like, “Should I be going to this music store or not? She didn’t get back to me.”
I go into the store and I say, “I’m looking for Emily.” They were like, “She’s not working now. It’s her day off.” I said, “Here’s the deal. I drove 30 minutes to get here and I want to buy a flute and get music lessons going.” The lady behind the counter said to me, “I can’t help you. Emily is the only person who can help you with flutes.” “I want to buy a flute.” “I’m sorry, she’s not here but I will have her give you a callback. Would that be okay?” I’m like, “Not really. I’m here to spend $1,000 on a flute plus flute lessons, which are only $30 apiece but if you figure $30 times 50 weeks is $1,500. This is a $2,500 sale. Whatever, have her call me.” The following day, no call.
Can you see how meaningful communication is? What is the message they are sending to me? The message is they don’t care but since I do this for a living, I’m like, “I’ve got to figure out what’s going on.” I call her again and said, “You didn’t get back to me. I didn’t have this and that going on. Your people were saying they can’t help me and frankly, I don’t feel like anybody cares about me.” She literally said this to me, “We care about you. The big challenge is we don’t have any flutes in stock.”
What’s the message? The message is, “Do you have money? Are you going to be around? Should I invest with this particular process?” What is going on? We had no follow-up. We had poor communication and extremely poor ways of answering the telephone. That’s a $2,500 sale that’s going to a competitor. Let’s say it’s only happening twice a week. That’s $5,000 a week times 50 weeks is $250,000 in lost revenue, never mind the expansion that could happen from that sale referral, things of that nature. Can you start to see how this would add up?
Increasing your meaningful communication means that you show to your client or your potential buyer that you care about them, that they are going to get the information and they can trust you. You are messaging that’s going out, whether it’s on a billboard, on a radio ad or a sales call needs to be uniformed, all in one place and have a single focus message, which is don’t differentiate yourself. Be different. In other words, positively be different because all it took was somebody to make a phone call to me and I wouldn’t have had a $2,500 sale on the table. Never mind the years.
Remember, we talked at times about increasing buying frequency. What if I stayed there for three years having flute lessons? I would have upgraded the flute and probably spent $5,000 on a new flute. I would have stayed there for years at $1,500 per calendar year. Can you see how this adds up? What’s the point? The point being is to pay attention to the meaningful communication that’s going external.
We will do another episode on internal because internal will implode things within the company. The bottom line, you’ve got to get the meaningful communication going right because that is the message. What are people thinking of? They are thinking of you as a brand. I will give you another example. I called an insurance company. We all know it. The name is GEICO. I don’t think they will sue me because this is a true story. I called GEICO. I was on hold for 52 minutes before somebody picked up the phone.
This wasn’t the first time this happened. This was the second time it happened and I was on for an hour the first time. I thought my problem was resolved also the second time but it wasn’t. Think about this. What message is that insurance company sending out to their client? They are sending out saying, “We don’t care enough about your time and we don’t value you enough to put adequate staff on.”
We are in 2021 and these companies are out there saying, “It’s COVID-19. The pandemic is the reason. We have people working from home.” If you have people working from home or people that were working at the office, isn’t that the same amount of people? What happened? You used to answer the phone very quickly. Now, you don’t answer the phone quickly. Is it possible that you use the pandemic as a potential to increase your profitability by cutting your headcount? It’s not just GEICO.
I called the utility company. The utility company traditionally doesn’t care because you’ve only got 1 or 2 choices, usually with your utility company. I have called auto dealerships. I have called different places or software companies and they put you on hold forever. How does that translate into a loss in sales? People get frustrated. They leave. You are getting churn. Churn is expensive, especially when you had a loyal client like GEICO. I have been there for years.
For somebody who has been with an insurance company, which traditionally is high turnover over and over, from one company to another company, you would think they would flag my phone number. “This guy has been here for many years. He has a business, personal, auto, everything here. This is a VIP client.” I’m not treated that way. I’m starting to shut insurance. Why? It’s because GEICO is not the cheapest insurance policy out there. Quite frankly, I don’t know what is a good insurance company and what’s not but I’m investigating. Churn will happen without meaningful communication.
How can you do this quickly and easily? Take a look at what’s being said. Let’s go from the way that you answer your phone. Let’s say that somebody calls in and gets somebody live. Somebody doesn’t have the answers to their questions but they don’t want to admit it. What they do is they become evasive. What happen?
Let’s go to dentists. Let’s say they are making $2,400 on that patient. If that dental office picks up the phone, somebody calls in and says, “I have a toothache. It’s screaming and killing me. I need to get my tooth taken care of.” By the way, this is another true story that I had for one of my clients who called and had a dental emergency, in their mind because they were in pain. That person on the other end said, “I’m sorry, the doctor cannot see you for two weeks.” It was a he, in this case, “He’s completely booked.”
Not only do they lose that potential for that new business but that person has gone to a new dentist and they lost all of that goodwill and future purchases from that particular person. Not only did they do that but they also told 12 to 15 of their friends what happened with this particular dentist. You’ve got barriers of entry because trust is built with the friend and they are losing potential clients. This is a small community. Here’s the bottom line. That dentist easily could have picked up 3 to 5 of those people.
Think about this. If a dentist gets $2,400 or $2,500 and loses five clients in a week and this happens once a week, that is a loss of 25 times 5 or 24 times 5 times 50. From the way you answer your phone, it’s your front people answering your phone in a manner, which is rapport and conveying a clear message that, “You are a valuable call and I’m here to help you.” If you don’t know the answer to the question, do an assessment. Figure it out.
I went one time to buy new computer equipment for my company who’s going to cost me somewhere around $30,000. I knew that going in front, I said, “That’s okay. I’m going to do this. We need new computers.” I call up a place. It was an Apple store. Not an Apple Apple store but an authorized Apple reseller. I said, “My name is Doug.” He answered the phone like this. “Hello?” He didn’t have any presence, whatsoever. No one trained him on how to answer this phone.
I’m like, “Are you okay?” He goes, “Maybe.” It’s literally what he said. I was like, “Maybe. Are you the ABC computer reseller?” He goes, “Yup. That’s what we are.” I’m like, “Is there a problem here? What is going on?” All of a sudden, I’m on the defensive because of the way they answered this phone. He said, “No, there’s no problem here.” I said, “Are you the reseller for Apple computers?” He goes, “That depends.” I said, “It depends on what?” He said. “It depends on what you are looking for.”
The sale is over right then and there. Rapport is broken. There’s no way I’m putting my trust and faith in this kind of service I’m getting on the front end. The meaningful communication is, “I don’t care about you or your business.” They lose sales. If this happened once a week and there is a $30,000 sale, it’s $1.5 million out the door. What are you going to sell to make up $1.5 million in sales that are lost?
Meaningful communication means you are delivering a message. The more you increase that meaningful communication, the more that people will bond with you. Your messaging, the things you say. People will say, “What’s your unique selling proposition?” What you say matters. What you put in print matters. The messages that you are sending out matters because it’s positioning. Are you positioning as an expert in somebody who wants and cares about the client or are you sending out meaningful communication that says, “Your average, I don’t care?”
Look at your meaningful communication. What are your follow-up processes? Are you even doing the follow-up? If you look statistically, half the people selling don’t follow up ever, once and this is on an incoming lead? An incoming lead comes in. No follow-up. What does that tell you as the buyer? These people are not reliable. How costly could this be?
I was on a sales consulting call. I was invited to listen to the sales consultant call to evaluate if they know how to sell. The sales consultants got on the call. One lady came on the call and said, “I’ve got something bad to say.” “What was that?” “I lost the sale.” “How long have you been working on the sale?” “I have been in contact with him for seven months.”
“You have been in contact with them for seven months. What’s the problem?” “I didn’t follow up with them for five months.” He followed up on the 1st month, the 2nd month, and then forgot. The client wanted to buy so they tried to get all of her but they couldn’t. They found another distributor of that program, that product and they bought off that other distributor. Here’s the crazy part. The commission to the salesperson alone was $250,000 per year and the average lifetime value of that client renewing on average is five years. $1.25 million in commission for the person selling.
Let’s think about it from a company perspective. What have you got to sell to make up $1.25 million? Would that be helpful? If you are on a 10% net, you can do the numbers. This is somewhere around $22 million, $23 million. You’ve got to sell to make up for that. When you don’t sell it originally and you’ve got to make up for that, you still have a cost of sale every single sale.
You are going to have to sell far more than the $22.5 million or whatever the number is because of follow-up. Did you know that the average company does not follow up with their people more than once a year ever the average company? How do I know this? I have surveyed companies over and over again. I used to do live events. I would survey them and say, “How many ways do you have to follow up with people?” The average is two. “How many times do you follow up with people?” The average is one.
This was across 10,000 different people. When you look at follow-up, it is a key component to your meaningful communications. Your messages are key components. Do your messages make people go, “I want to hear more about that or so what?” It conveys emotion to them or a feeling. If it’s like, “I don’t care,” great, they are out. You lose the sale.
Everything you do is about positioning, and everything you do about increasing meaningful communication is increasing the positioning in the alignment of who could buy, who could not buy, who would refer to you, who would not refer to you, who would leave your company as a client or who will stay in your company. Follow-ups are very important. The way you answer the phone is important. The messages you are sending out, whether it is in print, online or anything you do are extremely important.
That’s it for this solo episode of the show, the message being increased your meaningful communication and it will bring you more sales, save you from losing clients, save you from losing sales, and a whole bad bunch of stuff that wouldn’t happen if you put a little bit of time, energy and effort into that. Go out. Make it a great day. Sell some stuff. Serve people. Play win-win.
If you like this episode, please go up and give it a five-star review. I would very much appreciate it. Tell your friends about this. Spread the word if you like this show. If you have ideas for episodes that you would like a certain subject matter, please get ahold of me at Doug@BusinessSuccessFactors.com, @DougBrown123, which is my LinkedIn address or even the phone number, (603) 595-0303. It’s the company phone number.
If you are looking for something to advise you, to coach you, maybe even consult with your company, and help you figure out what’s going on with your company, whether you know in your heart like, “I know I can do better. The company can do better on sales. I know that. I’m just not sure what it is or I know what it is,” but you feel in your heart, “I know we could do better. My sales team could do better. We could increase our profitability,” maybe you know or maybe you don’t, hook me up. I will help you get that additional funds coming into your company. Go out. Make it a great day. Sell something into your success.