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I recently received a tongue-in-cheek question about sales follow-ups. While I usually focus on marketing, sales and marketing are so closely related that I didn’t want to skip over this opportunity.
The question is “Should I send cookies to prospects with my sales pitch?”
My immediate response is – if you’re selling to me, cookies and fruit baskets are always acceptable!
There are two underlying questions at play here:
(1) How do you stand out from your competition?
(2) How do you build relationships with your prospects?
Standing Out from the Competition
We’ll first look at how you stand out from the competition. Certainly, something like cookies or another follow-up gift will remind them of you – but depending on cultural norms and the environment in which you’re selling, it can be seen as bribery. (In some businesses and industries, buyers are not allowed to accept gifts from vendors.)
There are plenty of other ways that you can stand out from the competition. For example, you can focus on your extraordinary service. When you follow-up from your initial call, be sure to include a case study or testimonial from a client with similar pain points that you’ve helped.
Your business model can also make you stand out. If most people in your industry only offer subscriptions and packages, can you offer a one-time mastermind breakthrough session – where you get similar results in hours rather than days or weeks?
Your offer itself should also differentiate you from the competition. Guarantees are a great way to reduce the perceived risk of buying your product or service. Offer a free trial or a guarantee. Of course, while you may not want to guarantee results, in most businesses you can find a customer-service related guarantee that you’re able to keep (like responding to all inquiries within 24 hours.)
Building Relationships with Your Prospects
The second part of the question is how you build relationships with your prospects. These relationships will almost certainly help you stand out from the competition. In most cases, developing those relationships are about listening and paying attention to small details. For example, if at the beginning of your call, the prospect says they have a hard stop in 45 minutes to make it to their son’s soccer game, ask how the game went when you follow-up.
Beyond listening for the personal details, you need to really listen to their pain points. As I mentioned earlier, following up with how you address their specific pain points will go a long way to helping you stand out. I can’t tell you how many times that I’ve gotten a templated follow-up email with generic statistics after a sales call. The ones that stand out are the ones that remembered more about the pain point that I was trying to solve – either personally or professionally.
Finally, be human in your conversations. That doesn’t mean you have to be unprofessional – but you can share a bit about yourself and make yourself relatable. Comment on something going on in the news (non-political or polarizing, of course) or even the weather. People buy from people – so make sure they see you as one!
So before you send out that package of cookies – ask yourself what makes you and your business stand out?
Then send the cookies as the thank-you package after they’ve become a client.