Today I want to introduce you to a core selling philosophy at CFS. We believe the best salespeople keep their buyer engaged through the whole sales process. They solicit feedback, ask good questions, and get their buyer to invest a little bit of her own time and energy in the buying process.
One the most crucial times to ensure a buyer is engaged is when following up on an appointment. The worst feeling in the world is for a salesperson to send out that follow-up email and get “radio silence.” We find the most effective follow-up emails add value for our prospects and help lay out the road map for a successful relationship — and shorten the sales cycle.
My follow-up email follows what I call a DEAL outline based on the four lists of information and actions it contains: Determine requirements, Engage the client, Assume responsibility, and List the desired outcomes.
BONUS: You can now download a free template of the DEAL email to incorporate into your own sales process!
1. Determine Requirements
Every good salesperson knows it is essential to listen to your prospects. This involves not only actually listening, but also actively listening for needs, problems, and concerns.
The goal of the first section of the email is to distill the key issues you discovered in the meeting into a series of succinct, well-phrased bullet points. This will demonstrate to the prospect that you understand what they are looking to accomplish and why they need your help.
2. Engage the Client
Next, you should let the prospect know exactly what they are going to have to provide you so that you can begin helping them. Perhaps they need to give you specific information or make themselves and others available for discussion before you can give them a budget, proposal, price quote, or other information necessary to move forward. Again, these bullets should be kept short and to the point.
3. Assume Responsibility
Now it’s your turn to list what you will do in response to the information that they have provided. This is an opportunity for you to show everyone concerned your approach and your action plan.
4. List the Desired Outcomes
This section lists the requirements for a successful deal to move forward. It might involve providing a scope of work, a product list, timeframes, or simply a list of next steps. In most cases, this information will be repeated for many of your deals. Therefore, much of this section can be simply copied from one email to the next.
Overall, the document should be succinct and informal. There is a good chance that your prospect or others on your team will recommend quite a few changes to the document during the lifecycle of the sale. As you get better with practice, you will find it easier to summarize key concerns and identify specific actions that you and your prospect will take as you go through the qualification process. Take a look at the sample below. Notice I tweaked the category labels to make it more “client-friendly.”
As promised, this is a follow up to our meeting to determine if we are on track. Please comment and give feedback on my assumptions so that we can start determining whether or not we are a fit for your business.
I. Acme’s CRM Requirements:
- Integrate Customer Service, Sales, and Marketing to increase communications within the organization.
- Enable Sales Reps working remotely to access CRM data.
- Manage Sales Reps’ territories more effectively including leads, clients, and distributors.
- Provide for more timely follow-up on new leads gained through trade shows and other sources.
- Track activity between reps and management in one central database.
II. Acme’s Responsibilities:
- Offer feedback to XCRM Co. on the proposed CRM evaluation.
- Allocate time for Acme’s Sales and Service Reps, as well as Management, to take a closer look at CRM.
- Identify decision makers and help facilitate meetings between XCRM Co. and Acme.
- Quantify budget for CRM implementation.
III. XCRM Co.’s Responsibilities:
- Schedule a meeting to demo CRM to key Acme personnel.
- Create a detailed proposal outlining both the software and services for Phase I.
IV. Desired Outcomes:
- Acme’s salespeople are actively and effectively using CRM.
- Acme’s Management has more vision into the sales pipeline.
- Communication between Sales, Customer Service, Marketing, Accounting, and Management is more effective.
- Acme becomes a reference for XCRM Co.!
Note that each of the lists in the example email were numbered. This wasn’t just a stylistic choice – humans are hard-wired for numbers and will respond positively to an action plan presented in this way.
One great feature of DEAL emails is they can help you prioritize follow-up. If a prospect is really engaged, she’ll respond to the DEAL email – sometimes positively and sometimes with negative or constructive feedback. Remember, any type of response is good – it means your prospect is engaged! Push those opportunities to the top of your to-do list.
Let us know in the comments – does this format work for you?