“Hey, just checking in.”
Arghhh … that’s one of the worst things a salesperson can utter to a buyer.
It doesn’t add value to conversations, relationships or the deal.
It’s practically useless.
Of course, this doesn’t mean salespeople should stop following up with unresponsive buyers. It just means you want to follow up with something more valuable than “just checking in.”
Whether it’s email, a visit, phone call or social media reach, you can add value, move the deal along and tighten the relationship you’ve started building.
The good news: Prospects will listen when salespeople have something valuable to share – as much as five to 10 minutes, according to research from The RAIN Group.
Generally, buyers consider these things valuable:
- research and data relevant to their business
- customized content
- best practices, and
- insight on how to fix their challenges.
More specifically, here are 17 practical and useful ways to add value when you’re tempted to take the easy path and “just check in”:
Learn something, share something
Most salespeople research prospects before they connect, and perhaps a little more when buyers agree to a meeting. Then they stop.
Salespeople who continue to research, digging up emerging situations or buried information can add value. Mention the nugget of information, and most importantly, ask if they buyer would like a tip on how to solve or optimize it.
For instance, you might see assignments were reshuffled at a prospect’s company and direct them to cross-functional leadership training you know is good. Or you might have found an old industry award and show them similar industry awards they’d be “a shoe in” to receive also.
Invite them to an event
You want to invite buyers to events that can improve their personal or professional lives or businesses. Avoid inviting them to events solely meant to sell them your solutions.
Try workshops on better living, seminars on financial responsibility, professional industry conferences and/or events hosted by governing authorities in their industries.
Build a valuable blog
Create (or even follow) a blog and regularly update it with valuable information – not just opinion pieces or links to funny videos.
Everything you write or share on the blog needs two critical elements: information and what buyers can do with that information.
For instance, you’ll notice every post on our blog is packed with sales ideas, plus ways to implement them into your sales operations, no matter how big or small.
You want to do something similar: Build a blog with valuable information so you have a library of useful content to send links to buyers that fit their situation at the right time.
Give them content, context
Most organizations have a library of lead generation material, and marketing pros probably work to get them distributed at the right time in their pipeline efforts.
Salespeople can go back to those content pieces to add value to almost any kind of interaction with buyers. But remember, sharing a resource doesn’t mean just sending more product literature or linking prospects to product pages on your website. It’s strictly about giving helpful information that engages and excites buyers.
Regularly use these tools from your arsenal:
- Courses. Link them to a recorded video or audio courses or tutorials.
- An Email series that is sent on a limited basis and is specific to a time or need. It might be “12 days of …” or “Countdown to …” Note: This is not a promotional email opt-in. It should be a value-added perk for solid prospects.
- Tip sheets. Offer your short, concise pieces that were plucked from white papers and blog posts. Make them quick references with visuals, bullet points and specific actions buyers can take to improve their personal or professional lives.
- Checklists. Similar to tip sheets, offer checklists that are handy printouts or downloadable tools for prospects to use in a way that will make them more successful personally or professionally.
- Kits. Offer them re-purposed pieces of different content – such as tip sheets, SlideShare presentations and checklists – that are grouped into a relevant kit.
- Webinars. Invite them an upcoming or recorded webinar with one of your in-house experts or through a corporate partner.
- Case studies and news stories. Send these when the person or company highlighted in the case study or news story is noticeably similar to your prospect. You want buyers to recognize the similarities and successes that are possible for them.
Lead them to relevant content
You don’t have to – and probably don’t want to – only offer buyers your valuable content. That will come across as just pitching.
Other ways to add value:
- Share a story that’s relevant to their industry or profession, and include the message, “Thought you would appreciate this.”
- Respond on social media. Comment on their posts and link them to something relevant outside of your own content.
- Answer questions in online forums that you’re part of. Follow up with a personal message that includes more resources relevant to their questions and your answer.
Give them a potential opportunity
When salespeople research buyers’ companies, they sometimes recognize opportunities the buyer isn’t pursuing.
Let them know about it and offer suggestions – assuming they’re open to those – on how they might pursue the opportunity.
Build on what you hear
One conversation with a prospect is fertile grounds for adding value to the next conversation. The key is to listen harder than you try to sell.
Listen to find something prospects don’t know. Hone in on sentences that start with, “I wonder …” “I was thinking …” or “I never …” Those will clue you in on a topic or specific idea that interests them or would be helpful to them.
Then the next time you connect, you can say something like, “You mentioned you wondered about X. I looked into that and found some things I believe will interest you. Turns out, it seems there’s a lot you can do about it.”
Call a weakness to attention (tactfully)
Tactfully. That is the most important word in this tip! No one – especially someone who is being contacted by a little-known salesperson – wants to be told he or she is doing something wrong.
With a consultative tone, point out something that, upon improvement, would help the buyer become better. Don’t point fingers or suggest what’s being done is wrong or bad.
Try this: “I noticed there’s no call to action on some of your landing pages. Did you know a CTA on every landing page can increase conversions by 15%? I have a list of best-practice CTAs for landing pages, if you’d like to have it.”
Keep a keen eye and ear out for personal, professional and business successes happening with any of your prospects. Those are perfect opportunities to send messages of congratulations – via email, social media or phone call.
Since prospects are riding an “achievement high,” they’re likely happy and more open to interaction and new ideas.
The 5 times it’s OK to be ‘just checking in’
You still never, ever want to say or write that you’re “just checking in.” But there a few situations in sales when you do reach out because you need to check on something.
That’s when prospects:
- said they’d be back in touch on a certain day or in an exact time frame, and haven’t done it
- failed to show up for a scheduled meeting or call
- didn’t follow up after they said they needed to work with other decision-makers
- committed to signing a contract and didn’t, or
- started a trial, and haven’t responded on how it’s going or had gone.
In those situations, you still want to avoid the phrase, “just checking in.” Instead, stay or write:
- “You said we’d talk yesterday. I didn’t hear from you, so I’m contacting you to set up a different time tomorrow.”
- “Sorry we missed each other for the scheduled appointment. Let’s reschedule. How about …?”
- “I have the installment team ready to go, but haven’t heard back from you on the contract. When can I expect that?”
- “Is the trial going well for you so far? I’d love to hear your feedback.”