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Sales Strategy: Execution And Follow Up
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A friend and colleague from fifty years ago has retired from the ranks of Indiana High School Football coaches. He finished at number three on the all-time list for wins by a coach in the history of Indiana High School Football. His record includes a winning percentage of more than 80% : 339 wins-66loses-3 ties and 5 State championships.
During a recent interview, Coach was asked what was more important to his winning philosophy, “Game Planning” or “Execution”. While he accorded ample respect for “planning” how to compete, his fervent endorsement was for “execution”.
Fifty years ago most coaches were self anointed disciples of Vince Lombardi. Exceution was his gospel. There is a legendary practice where every minute, technique, maneuver and drill was devoted to perfecting the Packer’s signature play – the Packer Sweep. Lombardi’s philosophy goes like this :
Fundamentals win. Football is two things : blocking and tackling. I don’t care about formations or new defenses or tricks on defense. If you block and tackle better than the team we are playing, you will win.
Any successful sales manual worth its covers is based on several tenets or basics: the blocking and tackling of successful sales. No doubt you have seen many lists:
Sincere interest in people
Customer focused selling
Keep the prospect funnel full
Obviously, this list could go on and on. Sooner or later, Follow Up would make the list. Perhaps it’s included as a sub-topic somewhere in the above. But Follow Up is too vital a tatic to be relagated to sub-topic status. In any phase of the sales cycle, realtionship building is paramount. It is vital to develop and vital to keep. Alas, it is too widely ignored, taken for granted, blown off or forgotten.
There is no excuse for ignoring follow up with a prospect or client. One old coach developed a sure-fire tactic. He still sees value in a brief handwritten note. This proves that it’s possible to be so far behind the times that you appear to be in front.
The tactic is especially effective in the first stages of relationship building. Here’s one a mentor used : “You gave me the gift of a part of your time. It’s a gift only you can give. Thank you.”
An old coach, wishing to make sure he had a “subject for follow through” always asked for directions to the next local place he was headed. That night, he would jot a quick note to his prospect. Using the above “gift of time” note, he would add, “By the way, your directions were perfect.”
Use this as a model to develop a follow up strategy. A brief handwritten note is an effective tactic, especially when everyone else is ending e-mails. Send nothing with your note. You can follow through with sending materials that are appropriate and timely as needed. As your relationship builds, you will find countless reasons to send messages of all types, using every medium at your disposal.
Let’s leave this “basics” consideration with one more Lombardi quote as you continue to build, develop and refine your sales career:
You don’t do what is right once in a while, but all of the time.
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