How shall I push this customer?
The boss of this customer is aged, traditional and prudent. His company is in Germany. Recently, he showed interest on one of our product and price, and asked me to send out the sample. I did so and found the sample was received on 06/11- Thursday.( I get this informaiton from DHL website) . But as of today, there are still no further instruction coming from him. I want to make him a call to check what is the status right now, but at the same time worried that this will annoy him. But if I dont push, I am worried the project will flow elsewhere. After all, the project is very big. As he told me it would be 150,000pcs. His last email told me that he would discuss with his customer. What is the best wording way, or speaking way, or some other way to push him?
Stop mind reading. It's perfectly reasonable to call and say, "Hey I just wanted to make sure you received the sample. Is it what you expected?"
The real problem here is that you don't know what the next step in the sales process is or when it will happen. You have no control or next step. Not a good position to be in.
There's a technique I got from Gary Pica that I absolutely love to avoid these situations. It's called "What happens after what happens next?"
It's a way to address exactly this situation before it even comes up. So in this case it would be something like, "I'd be happy to get a sample out to you immediately. Assuming you receive it by tomorrow, when will I hear from you? ...So if I don't hear from you on Thursday I can call you on Friday morning, correct?"
It can also look like, "So you want to talk to your boss. Great! Let's assume that conversation goes well and schedule our final sign-off meeting."
At this point you can call and say, "You received the sample. When do you expect to speak with the customer? Assuming that goes as expected when will we speak again? Perfect, so if I don't hear from you by ____ I will call you on ___, ok?"
This lets you gauge the strength of your position and have a scheduled next step at all times.
If the client hedges, your sales job isn't over and you do not want to let the meeting end. If they commit, you're golden and know exactly where you stand.
Like Sandler says, "Yes is ideal. No is acceptable. Maybe is never allowed."
I would start by mailing the customer in a friendly manner before you start to push hard. If they did receive the package on the 11th I am not surprised you have not heard back yet since hardly one workday has passed and your client could have all sorts of grounded reasons not to have contacted you.
I would simply mail them and ask them nicely if they received the package in good order, tell them you hope they find it to their liking and ask them to send their feedback after their perusal.
It's only been two (working) days since the sample was delivered!
Give him time. He could be busy, travelling, on holiday, etc. So could his customer.
If you want to keep front-of-mind you could try sending him a mail along the lines of "Hope that you've received the sample in good condition, and that it meets with your requirements. I will contact you in a few days to see how you would like to proceed."
Two thoughts from me: 1) why do you wish to "push" the customer? The fact that you view it this way (express it this way) may be evident to this prospect whether or not you intend for them to be pushed. Most folks will sense this, push back and take their business elsewhere and 2) international business dealings are unique in that the customs of one country and another differ. Perhaps in your country two days is considered a long time whereas in Germany 2 weeks is considered adequate. If you are concerned about being competitive, express your interest to answer any further questions. If you push or rush a decision I suspect you will not be pleased with the outcome.
Hi James. You absolutely should do a follow-up. Try not to view it as being annoying, but rather, being courteous. This man is likely very busy and is probably shopping around. If you don't follow-up, your product may get lost in the shuffle. Here are some words that might be helpful:
"I saw that our product had been delivered and wanted to reach out to you to see what you thought about it and what questions, if any, that you have [e.g, about how it works, etc.]. When we last spoke [emailed], you mentioned that you wanted to show the product to your customer. Would you like me to be available by email or Skype when you meet with him [her] in case he [she] has questions? This would show your customer that you have a great support system in place and would also avoid any awkwardness of not knowing the answer to his [her] question. I look forward to working with you on this venture. Please let me know how you would like me to proceed."
Hope this helps!!
Hi James !
Please do not expect the client to call you up, Since this is a big project you have to initiate the proceedings at the same time give space to the client. I suggest you to call up the client on the 16th .
First, find out what his business does. Then find out what he stands to lose if he does not have your product (as opposed to a competitor's). Then see if this loss is significant. If you ask him more about the business before sending samples, it makes this easier. Otherwise call him and have a discussion about what he wants the unit for and how it will benefit him etc. Let me know if you need deeper clarity
Hi James, I agree with Mike Sutton, it is perfectly reasonable to call this client. I don't necessarily agree with most other answers here. It seems there is a lot of reluctance towards sales and this is never good.
If you see sales as part of your customer service, then you suddenly realize it's not about pushing customers, but to make sure they have everything they need to make a valuable decision (be it yes or no doesn't really matter as long as you know in the end).
Pushing a customer over the edge is one thing by calling them and sending emails every single day. But if you have a proper follow up strategy, you will never annoy the client and will get the answer you're looking for eventually.
A follow up strategy has 12 steps that you can follow (they are guidelines so you can skip steps in between depending on the client and the conversation you may have):
1. Send the sample (done)
2. Advise the client that the sample is on it's way and should be with them on date x (I guess you've done this as well if not, could be good to implement it for the next client).
3. Follow up latest 1 week after the sample was received by the client by phone (as you got the DHL record of the delivery, it is easy to know when the client received the package). (In case there is an issue with the delivery for example got stuck somewhere in customs etc. then make sure, the moment you are aware of this, to let your customer know that you're working on it. Just make sure you implement this as part of your service to the client. This can be seen as a step in the 12 step follow up)
4. Send another email a few days later (not an entire week, maybe 3 - 4 days after you talked to them). Ask him if he requires any further clarification/ details/ documentation etc. If he does, he will get back to you. If not, he might get back to you.
5. Give him another ring a few days after the email to discuss the way forward. You can announce this in between by email but I prefer to call the client and simply ask the question. You may be able at this stage to set up a skype call or a meeting with an agent in the customers country etc. (in case you have an agent there or would travel yourself to the country to discuss further. Only if it's feasible to do so of course).
6. At this point the client may already give you a decision (they should in reality but some take a bit longer).
7 - 12. Keep following up by email and phone (mix it up) on a weekly/ bi-weekly basis depending on the client. If you ask them before when they expect to make a decision they might tell you on date x. Call them a day after that (in case they don't get in touch with you) and follow up again.
It's about persistence. This has nothing to do with pushing for a sale. Yes, some people won't like this approach, they would never do it or their business or personal ethics are getting in the way with this however I would urge you to follow up at least 12 times with a client before you give up. Over 80% of sales is lost because most sales people are not following up more than 4 times during a sales process. I usually don't give up until I receive a clean yes or no answer. If there is a hint that for example a client says to me, we reviewed your product/ services but at this time we decided not to go ahead I always ask if it's ok to follow up in say 3 months time to see if the situation changed. Most people say yes, please do so...in that case, I'm again on the ball once the time is up.
Ed makes a valid point about Germany, I think 2 weeks is a bit too long but adequate waiting time can be around 1 week before making a call. They do however like being kept in the loop every part of the process. Everything is structured in Germany and goes step by step. If you are uncertain, I would ask the client about the steps involved to receive an answer. The fact that he is like an agent and trying to sell your products on to somebody else is only adding to the difficulty. This is basically out of your hands but you can ask your client regularly how far he is with his customer, when he is expecting an answer etc. This is a normal process in Germany and most Germans would appreciate this kind of approach. Just make sure you mix it up. Your email might also have landed in their spam folder. If he's not replying to you, how do you know if he received your email (even with a read receipt I would do a follow up call).
Make sure you structure your follow ups so that they make sense. Go at it step by step until you receive the answer you're looking for (not necessarily the answer that will make you happy).
Just my 5 cents.
First let me know what kind of product you are trying to sell? Once you found that the product has been shipped to the client why cant you just cal and find out whether he received the shipment safely. Also check with him whether he showed the product to hi customer or his boss who is the deciding authority. Once you get the information and if it is kind of positive, also you have the bandwidth to provide some discounts just inform him that if he places the order on or before the monthend or a particular date he may get this much discount (Some % discount). Most likely this will drive the sale in a positive way if he is satisfied with the product. If you really like my advice just let me know how it helped.
I would call with the excuse of making sure that the sample was received (this is good service!), of-course you can solicit feedback on the sample and inquire as to the process, timeline and next step.
James, in my experience you should email him asking how was the discussion with his customer. At the same time inform him that you are entirely at his disposal to clarify any doubts he and/or his customer may have.
I would suggest reach him out with minimum possible discounts.!!! And please reach him out!!