One of the greatest predictors of sales success is how relentless you are at following up. And one of the best at it is the Guide Dogs Association.

Funded entirely through public charitable donations (they get absolutely no government supuppy 2pport), I’m constantly inspired by the level of sophistication they use when it comes to separating me from my money! *smile*

Guide Dogs (like many Australian charities) are smart in their choice of Telemarketers. They only employ Australians who can have a proper conversation and not come across as someone from an overseas call centre (most of whom are incredibly pushy and simply turn me off – FAST).

And they obviously use a sophisticated Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system to keep track of whom they’ve called, what the person donated and when to call back.

So I thought I’d use them as an excellent example of what you should be doing in your business to increase sales.

Our first contact with the Guide Dogs started years ago with a telemarketer calling us for a donation. While I honestly can’t remember if we gave them something or not, we did give them permission to keep calling. Which they duly did.

Each time they call they’ve looked up our record and thank us for our last donation. Which is clever. It makes us feel they’re grateful and it reminds us that it may well have been a while since the last one, so on some level propels us to making another one. Subtle psychological pressure – which often works.

One such call offered to sell us first aid box for the car as part of the “donation”. We bought it and the Guide Dogs obviously needed our physical address to deliver it.

A very clever strategy on their part. Why? Because until then the only way of communicating was by outbound calling – and every time they called we knew they wanted money.

And until then they had no way of actively marketing to us. They were relying only on salespeople trying to get a donation via a phone call.

Having our physical address allowed them to start sending us a regular marketing newsletter via physical mail.

The newsletter contains extremely well written stories and photographs of how our donations changed the lives of blind people by giving them mobility. Stories that invoked emotions and showed we could really make a difference in people’s lives. And of course putting requests for donations into reply envelopes.

And they work. I always open their envelopes and read their material cover to cover. In fact I’ve even written about some of their stories in this newsletter.

But interestingly, I’ve never filled in the coupon and sent back a donation from the letter. And as that’s the case, is their stuff working and is there any point in sending it?

Well, the answer is a resounding yes!

The physical newsletter keeps their name in front of me. I remember the stories and relate to them. So when the telemarketer next calls, guess what… I take out my credit card and make a donation.

Which leads me to a very important point.

Like the Guide Dogs, you must have an efficient way of collecting and managing this information. Without a comprehensive, well designed CRM which helps you keep track of your prospects and clients, automating follow up tasks where necessary, you’ll find it hard to keep up with whom to contact, when.

And if you’re using only one form of contact with your prospects you will be missing out on opportunities for a sale.

We all respond in different ways. And it generally takes multiple touches in different media before people are ready to buy.

Not realising this is where many businesses waste money.

They might only use telemarketing to get leads, but not have any way of following up with prospects who aren’t ready to buy, or for that matter don’t respond to telemarketers and want more written information.

Others send out sales promotions (physical or email), not get a response and think promotions don’t work. I can assure you that if they followed up with a phone call, their response rate might be as high as 30% to 40%.

Sales is an active business. You can’t just sit back and think orders are going to come rolling in. They might if you sell a commodity item, but if you sell any sort of high value product or service, you’re fooling yourself if you think one shot will work.

To be effective you must use a CRM to capture the details of every prospect and client. Where they’re at in the sales process and what they’ve bought.

Your CRM should automatically trigger the need to call a prospect depending on the timing agreed in the last conversation.

And where prospects have come to your website requesting information, your CRM should automatically capture their details and put them on your follow up sequences which include newsletters, physical mail and telephone follow ups as appropriate.

Remember multiple touches win the day.

Finally, if you’d like some advice on what CRM to choose to handle both automated Marketing follow ups & Sales activities, drop me a note. I’ve dealt with dozens of different applications and can tell you the strengths and weaknesses of each and give you recommendations as to which one to choose going forward.


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