Salespeople, says business consultant Grant Mazmanian, tend to be emotional, overly optimistic, highly individualistic, and money-motivated. It takes a good coach/manager to help sales reps see that some prospects just can’t be turned around. And that’s OK. (See article, “Good, Better, Best”)
Mazmanian, president and CEO of Pinnacle Group International, in Media, Pa., developed this failed-sales-call debrief template from comments gathered from his 125 contractor consulting clients. The template can be tailored to each company’s organizational structure and helps determine the probability of whether a lead will end in a sale. “It’s more important to go over a failed call to find out what went wrong than to go over a successful call,” Mazmanian says.
Salespeople take the sheet to a call and within 24 hours they fill it out. Then they consult with the business owner or sales manager. “It’s a way of taking the emotion out of the sale and making it more objective,” Mazmanian says. “You want to avoid the salesperson saying, ‘They’re going to buy; they’re going to buy,’ when the sheet is telling them the [prospect] will not.”
The sheet helps the business owner fine-tune how the company works with sales calls — from pre-qualifying to the sale. “The sales department is the growth of the company,” Mazmanian says. “This is an empowering thing. It’s about giving salespeople a tool to [help them] improve.”
A. Probability Test
This first section is filled out by your company’s pre-qualifier, e.g., your receptionist. Since you’re looking to increase the probability of making a sale, these two questions are important because they help compare pre-qualification information to actual outcome. Having all decision-makers present at the sales call increases the likelihood of a sale. If the prospect said all would be present and they’re not, it might lower the chance of a sale.
B. What Now?
“‘Failed’ is the language we use [on the form],” Grant Mazmanian says, because “it [indicates to the sales rep] that there’s little chance of a sale and that it would be a waste of time to pursue it.” While there is always a chance that homeowners might change their minds, you want the salesperson to pursue the hot leads while the administrator follows up on the others to possibly turn that “no” into a “yes.”
C. Hold ’em or Fold ’em
Assume that the “Need to get additional bids” box is checked. The salesperson and sales manager determine that the homeowner’s need to get additional bids may mean, “We can’t afford it,” or “Your price is too high.” You determine that there is a low probability of a sale and that it’s a waste of time for the salesperson to deliver the finalized proposal but you need to follow up. Have the administrator mail or e-mail the quote and then follow up by having the administrator call the homeowner four days later.
D. Learn From Experience
Here’s where owner and salesperson learn where changes might be needed. What was learned: E.g., if the prospect felt the price was too high, the owner might recognize a pattern. Maybe prices are too high. Or it’s the wrong demographic. Does the company need new ways to reach higher-income homeowners? Done differently: E.g., maybe someone new took the pre-qualifying call. Failure to close: Perhaps a specific strategy didn’t work, or the presentation needs to be tweaked to show more before-and-after examples. Qualifying call/sales call: Time to look at your pre-qualifying checklist. Maybe your gatekeeper feels awkward asking certain questions or doesn’t ask enough questions.