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10 Post-sale follow-up.

It is important to establish some kind of mechanism for obtaining information on the overall effect after an idea, program, or service has been accepted. "Follow-up" provides the opportunity to get more feedback on how people feel about the usefulness of the idea or service that was suggested or presented. It also helps to check customers' reactions about results accomplished when compared to their expectations. This chapter first discusses the meaning of follow-up. Next, suggestions are provided for following up with buyers and extending the relationship; these ideas are differentiated based on the four customers' social styles (amiable, analytical, expressive, driver as discussed in Chapter 3.)


Follow-up means doing what you have promised to do. Although salesperson follow-up has routinely been listed as one of the top selling traits most valued by customers, it is the one behavior in which salespeople exhibit the weakest performance. (1) If you tell a client you will do something--mail a brochure, supply needed data, etc.--be certain that you do exactly what you said you would do by the time promised. If an event occurs that legitimately prevents a timely follow-up, telephone your client and let him or her know you have not forgotten and you will follow up as soon as possible.

After you have made the sale, check back with the customer, and verify that everything is satisfactory. Do not let months pass before you contact the customer again. If the customer has booked an event with your hospitality organization, follow up within two days after the event to ensure that things went as planned. Your follow-up efforts can make all the difference in whether you will be able to obtain repeat business from this customer.

Follow-up Suggestions to Extend the Relationship

Just as you must adapt to each prospect's social style to make the sale, you must also adjust your follow-up and efforts to extend the relationship in the same manner. What works for one social style will not be as effective for another. The following paragraphs, discuss the most appropriate methods for following up and developing a stronger relationship with each social style category.

Amiable Customer. Do not remind amiable customers of details, even if important; identify one of the amiables' assistants who is detailed-oriented and get the amiables' permission to work with the assistant on the "mechanical aspect" of follow-up. Do not make the mistake of asking the amiables if they understand things, simply convey your assumption that amiables do. If the amiables wish for clarification, they will seek it; amiables tend to be "thin-skinned" and like to feel intellectually superior.

Clip articles related to the amiables' interests or your proposals, especially from publications dealing with the world of ideas, for example, Successful Meetings, and send them with a cover note soliciting their reactions. Appeal to the amiables' intellectualism by arranging for the amiable to speak before a prestigious group or by arranging for a summary of the amiables' views to be published in a journal. Invite the amiable to participate in social groups designed around intellectual pursuits (class group, bridge club, MENSA, economics discussion club, etc.), and feature them, if possible, in special roles having visibility.

Finally, cast the amiable customers in the role of your teacher or problem solver. For example, you could arrange a small follow-up meeting at which the amiables can brief your assistant, staff, or others. In other words, don't call the customers about your program per se; translate the call into a "problem that I need your help in solving--it's something I do not understand."

Analytical Customer. Analytical customers appreciate structure--ideas that are translated into specific sequences and steps. Analyticals do not like to deal with concepts or thoughts that are general, so you should follow up using a systematic approach. Analyticals' love of structure, and the sense of security it provides, will cause them to appreciate sales presentations and letters that are defined or explained in discrete phases or stages. That is, follow up your initial conversations with analyticals by discussing "Phase I" or "Step 1" of your proposal. In correspondence, use the same format. When you write analyticals a letter or memo, do not refer to having "several ideas." Instead, outline the program, refer to specific points, number them, and use subheadings (such as Phase II, Section I, Point Three). Similarly, analyticals love flowcharts, diagrams, and varying representations of the same data. Analyticals regard this as evidence of thoroughness, not repetition.

You should document everything. Analytical customers are very impressed by facts and prefer to have timetables to follow. It is also a good idea to accompany your memos with schedules and followup dates. Always keep analyticals appraised of what is happening with their company's program, meeting, etc. by providing both oral and written summaries on a routine basis (weekly or monthly). Since analyticals are basically cautious and somewhat insecure, they like to "go over" things and review them.

Many analyticals tend to nitpick concerning form; frequently, they seem to make buying decisions on the basis of quality packaging--appearance, form, etc. Analyticals evaluate things on the basis of whether they seem "professionally done." Therefore, try to be more formal in your approach and communication, even if it seems somewhat stilted.

Analyticals may be somewhat status-oriented. Analyticals enjoy having conferences and luncheon meetings in clubs. The atmosphere of a venue like the Harvard Club or the Sales Executives Club helps analyticals relate to tradition. These places are predictable to analyticals and help them feel secure and relaxed. Analyticals are also concerned about precedents, other users, testimonials, and user data. Unlike amiables who derive satisfaction from being first--a pioneer--analyticals like to be modern but tested, "Let a few others get the bugs out first." The analyticals are impressed if those they respect use your products or services.

Analyticals approve of understated appearances; they are conservatively inclined. When people dress flamboyantly, analyticals tend to be mistrustful of them. Analyticals like solid colors and stripes, and may have aversions to checks and free-form designs.

Expressive Customer. Expressive customers enjoy personalized relationships and do not "compartmentalize" their life. In other words, expressives do business with people they like. Expressives have a strong potential need to have each significant business contact be a friend as well as an outstanding, trustworthy professional. Becoming a friend to expressive customers is very important. Remember that expressives like dealing on a first-name basis. In addition, sincere interest in their family will be appreciated. For example, you should learn the names of expressives' spouse and children.

Be informal. Expressives like talking on the phone and frequency of contact is important. If there are long lapses between your calls or visits, expressives will feel you only want their business and are not really interested in them--this bothers expressives. When corresponding with expressives, one should convey warmth--and a light, personal touch. Also, recognize that the expressives do not mind being contacted evenings or weekends about business as long as you have established a good relationship with them.

Expressives like to go places with flair, such as restaurants that are international or unique in some way. For example, most expressives would not think it inappropriate to solidify the sales contract or implementation steps while sitting shoeless on the floor of a Japanese restaurant. Furthermore, expressives tend to be socially oriented. Therefore, invitations to sporting events, special parties, and other social events will be construed as loyal and meaningful actions on your part, especially when the events involve guests whose opinions they value.

Expressives like to know personal "tidbits" about competitors, others in their own organization, etc. Such conversation makes expressives feel "you're letting your hair down" and makes for a closer relationship. Expressives frequently have a sense of humor and enjoy humor in others; however, be aware that most expressives are concerned with "taste" and do not appreciate humor that is crude.

Finally, expressives place considerable emphasis on loyalty and sentiment. They tend to be sensitive and "thin-skinned," and no matter how secure they may seem in their positions, they do not feel secure. This insecurity exists because they tend to overreact to hints, nuances, political moves, possibilities, and pressures. Therefore, any efforts that are made resulting in their "looking good" to others who concern them politically will strengthen a long-term sales or client relationship. Any way you can credit them, their ideas, insight, decisions, etc., will count for a great deal.

Driver Customer. Driver customers prefer, and often insist on, brevity. Respect this. Drivers have a great sense of urgency. Consequently, as soon as you enter a room to have a discussion with drivers, it is wise to say, "I know you're extremely busy, so I'll be brief"--then get right to the point. Drivers appreciate candor and bluntness.

Go to the bottom line first and then work your way back. Drivers think this way--in terms of pragmatic outcomes--and they become tense and impatient in response to the "long windup."

Most drivers tend to interrupt. In dealing with drivers, encourage this. Drivers' questions are very astute. They are "testing" the realism of programs with these questions, so it becomes important for the salesperson to get used to interruptions and to encourage them.

Drivers are extremely competitive and combative. In communicating with drivers, identify their main competition, and frame your plans and programs as ways you can assist the drivers in disarming these people, or cutting them down to size. Many drivers consider themselves Robin Hoods without portfolios. They like to steal business from others and feel it is their moral obligation to do this.

Drivers tend to trust very few people; drivers are basically quite suspicious. Therefore, all followup plans will gain greater acceptance to the degree they feature built-in controls.

Since drivers are very impressed by nuts-and-bolts facts (percentage increase in bookings, restaurant ratings, or sales office performance), the sale or service must be reinforced by periodic written or verbal communications to them along these lines. It is perfectly appropriate to send drivers a single sheet from a computer printout with a red circle around the data you wish to highlight plus a one-line memo stating, "I thought you might be interested in this."

There is a "show me" quality in the makeup of most drivers; they are more impressed by actions than words. This trait can be an advantage to the experienced salesperson. If the salesperson positions new services or programs not as separate entities, but as vehicles to prove strategic points, the salesperson will enlist greater driver interest and curiosity.

Drivers like to roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty. Visits with drivers should not be restricted to the "front office." If you ask drivers to take you into their operations--in order to meet the people, see the real problems, ask questions, and get the "nitty-gritty"--drivers will respect you as more the pragmatic and dedicated type that they see themselves.

Drivers are impatient and distractable. They often like working on several projects simultaneously and, therefore, receive many telephone calls and visitors at one time. Not surprisingly, they like this frenetic atmosphere. Drivers are often seen as crisis managers who like the excitement of many specific contests or challenges. Some salespeople have been upset with the drivers' lack of time for them, the interruptions, etc. However, the effective salesperson will learn to deal with the drivers on their terms, boil down the presentations to key points, and make faster closes. Indeed, drivers are always "testing" other people; if the salesperson has to do things "his or her" way, the salesperson will "lose points" with drivers.

Drivers are used to scheduling appointments on short lead time. It is possible to get an audience with them on 48 or 24 hours' notice. This is because drivers do not want to miss anything that could have a significant impact on their operations. However, you must approach the drivers on specific action points. Drivers will not schedule an appointment to review decisions already made.

Be prepared for cross-examination; drivers rarely take the time to be thoroughly prepared or informed on all aspects of a program or plan. Drivers believe in the 80 percent rule--by hitting highlights or key points they can decide correctly eighty percent of the time and the money they make by doing more deals in less time offsets the occasional miss. However, drivers don't want others to see this--particularly that the driver often tends to move too quickly--so drivers put others on the defensive. One of drivers' favorite techniques is to "spot-check" operations and "spot-check" people. Drivers will ask the salesperson four or five difficult and seemingly unrelated questions. The test is "on." Drivers care less about the information they receive than about the evidence of confidence, authority, and quick thinking on the part of the other person.

Key Concepts

Chapter 10 discusses the post-sale follow-up, or what steps the salesperson should take after the sale. Follow-up suggestions to extend the relationship are given for each of the four behavioral styles of customers:

* Amiable--avoid talking about details and let the buyer ask for clarification if needed. Let the amiable feel like he/she is helping solve problems.

* Analytical--likes structure and a systematic approach to things. Try to document everything and summarize your actions. Be conservative and reinforce the decision with testimonials and new information.

* Expressive--try to maintain a relationship and communicate on a personal level. Don't be too formal and make frequent calls and follow-ups. Show loyalty and appeal to his/her status-consciousness.

* Driver--use candor and be to the point. Focus on performance and the bottom-line, and demonstrate the practicality of your solution to his/her problem. Keep the driver informed and only make contact them if it is important.


(1) Graham, John R. (1995) "The 12 Deadly Sins," Manager's Magazine 70 (December), 12; Morgan, Jim (1997), "The Best Sales Reps Follow Up on Their Suggestions," Purchasing 123 (November 27), 65-68.
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Title Annotation:prospecting and selling methods
Publication:Hospitality Sales: Selling Smarter
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2004
Previous Article:9 Gaining commitment.
Next Article:11 Hotel contracts.

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