Imagine you’re in a new sales world.
Where all first cold calls closed every deal. Where all first cold emails landed meetings.
Where all website visitors converted on their first visit. Where all first touches were the last. Where you didn’t have to follow up ever.
Now stop imagining.
Because that world doesn’t exist.
Or I haven’t found it yet.
No magic wand to improve sales follow-ups
In sales, following up is the real magic wand (no pun intended).
And that on the average, it takes about 8 follow-up calls to reach a prospect. But as business and sales leader, we fail to follow up as often as we should – 44% give up after only one follow-up call.
Now, start imagining again.
You’re in Brooklyn’s artsy and colorful suburb of Williamsburg.
Where every turn has a vibrant oomph and youthfulness. Where every corner has an exciting place to dine and wine. Where every street has a puff of a cigarette.
Now stop imagining.
Because that world does exist. And I found it.
“Why do people smoke,” I quizzed my friend who was on a walk with me in the vibrant heart of Williamsburg that weekend.
He was clueless. We know a daily healthy body is important. But why smoke?
So we directed our curiosity to a lady passing by.
“I don’t know why,” she shrugged, as she offered me a stick of cigarette. I declined.
How a mundane moment became a “Spark of Brilliance”
As unassuming as her answer was, it was a spark of brilliance.
Stay with me here.
What if salespeople could follow up, like the way many people puffed, snorted, shot or stoked their favorite chemical?
That us unconsciously? Or effortlessly? Or without even “knowing why”?
That’ll be sales on cruise control. And we’d crush it.
In that moment of brilliance, I noticed I was asking the wrong question.
Instead of why do people smoke, the right question will be: Why do people keep smoking?
Is there some sort of neurological and chemical ricochets that spin-off in the skull, which makes smoking so effortless?
There’s only one chamber to find out: addiction.
I know, unfortunately, the word ‘addiction’ makes us cringe. Because we tend to believe that addicts are:
“… bad, crazy, ignorant people who need to get good, become sane, and become better educated in order to get better”.
This uninformed perspective of “prejudice” and “stigma”, according to University of Texas Professors Carlton Erickson and Richard E. Wilcox, whose research on Neurobiological Causes of Addiction is widely cited, is the main challenge for underfunded solutions. Keep your morality to yourself.
Think about it: if there is any secret to sales, it’ll be that salespeople should get addicted to following up.
Using Neuroscience to Improve Sales Follow-ups
Neuroscience research reveals something about mood-altering substances.
The part of our brain responsible for altering moods based on substances – whether drugs, alcohol, sweets – is dopamine.
Dopamine is a common chemical neurotransmitter that gets into the pathway of the brain.
At that point, it “reaches a widespread portion of the brain that is concerned with emotion, pleasure, the memory of emotional events, and decision-making ability for emotional events.”
This is according to Stanford University researcher Robert C.Malenka and Steven E.Hyman.
I asked my friend Stephanie Fine Sasse. She is the Executive & Creative Director of The People’s Science.
Steph is a trained Harvard University and Oregon Health & Sciences University researcher. She has spent years studying and teaching how the brain works and changes.
She added that dopamine, “plays a role in learning and memory formation and reward, in particular, making you feel good.”
So, dopamine associates with whatever makes us feel good.
A laugh. A kiss. A workout. Sex. Sugar. Whatever.
But the reason why dopamine is so potent with drugs is that “it can actually increase the amount of dopamine up to 10 times”, Stephanie said.
Over time, this “can lessen the amount of dopamine naturally released by the brain, or reduce the number of receptors, such that the system requires more of that drug in order to get the same effect. In a sense, it shifts the way your brain processes rewards.”
That’s how people become addicted.
How to Improve Sales Follow Ups and Make it Feel Good
We can take advantage of brain’s reward circuitry, in the same way as dopamine. How?
By pairing the desirable behavior of constant follow-ups with a reward.
This will make following up feel good. And also make the dependence between the pair stronger with more follow-ups.
The cycle will continue. We’ll need more following up to feel good about following up.
“The main way, in my mind,” Stephanie suggests, “is that you need to think about what someone already associates as rewarding.
And then you have to couple that with the behavior that you want. So if you can pair those two things, you can eventually get people to associate the other one with the same reaction.”
Part of how you can make this work for you is to batch up following up.
After every 10 or 20 follow-ups, give yourself a reward. Over time, you’re conditioned to associate the reward with following up.
In my mind, the best pair to tie to your reward is not a follow-up, but a result “No” from a customer or prospect.
Each time you get a No, give yourself a reward. That way, we deal with the real roots of following up – our fear of rejection.
Improve Sales Follow-Ups: 3 Rewards
There are 3 things to be mindful of when choosing the reward:
Convenience: the reward should be within your scope of reach or activities. Think proximity. Going to see a new movie in the theaters might be more convenient than taking a trip to space.
Affordability: the reward should be at a fair price and within your budget. A new Apple watch may be more affordable than a new Tesla Model S.
Sustainability: the reward should be attainable over the period of time conditioning. Buying a new Apple Watch every time you reach you’re follow up goals may not be the most sustainable reward.
Also, you don’t want to pick a reward that you oversaturate yourself on in a negative way. Because it’ll turn out to be bad for your health.
“The most important thing,” Stephanie says about the reward, “is to learn as much you can about other people.
But figure out how these ideas apply to you specifically. Try to do self-data collection – what works and doesn’t work for you.”