Why The Follow Up Is Everything For Small Business Sales — Matt Easton | Easton University

Much of the success in sales is found in the follow up, but that crucial process gets overlooked far too often. Today on The Atlanta Small Business Show, we’re pleased to welcome back Matt Easton, sales trainer, consultant, and founder of Easton University, to walk us through the importance of having a follow up strategy.

Transcription:

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Thanks so much, Matt, for joining us once again, right here on the show.

Matt Easton:
Thanks for having me, Jim. It’s an honor and a privilege. I love being on the show.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Well, that’s great. We’re glad that you do. So we’ll have you back more. So how soon do you see, or I should say, how soon do you recommend following up after no response or resistance?

Matt Easton:
Yeah, right away. And before we even get into that, if it’s all right with you, Jim, I’ve got some kind of bad news. I think maybe it’s better for us to just get the bad news out first.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Let’s go.

Matt Easton:
If you’re a business owner or manager, brace yourself. Okay? Because we’ve got some new data from Easton University. You’re about to get really depressed, especially when you look at your marketing and advertising bill for last month.

What we’re seeing right now across the board, all industries, 82%, You heard me right? 82% of sales reps are not following up at all. Now here’s the thing, a lot of them are lying in saying they did, but we actually went into CRMs and fact-checked them, and 82% are not following up at all. So you’re spending all this money for leads. It’s a one-and-done. They’re not following up. Of the 18% that are following up, Jim, only 62% of those people are following up more than once. So even if we get after one follow up, it gets really, really pathetic.

Now here’s the thing though, for our audience, before you get really, really upset as an owner or a manager and you go yell at your people, it’s your fault, okay? It’s your fault that this is not happening. Why is it your fault? All right, let’s just break it down. By the way, guys, we call this the sword and shield at Easton University. If you have a pen and a piece of paper handy, you’re going to want to write these down. I’m going to give you some gold that you can share with your people. We’ll talk about the cadence as well. But before we even get into that, we got to know what they’re saying and why they’re not following up. Okay? Here’s why they’re not following up, Jim.

Number one, they don’t think it works and it doesn’t if they don’t have a process, and especially if they’re using bad language and using the F word, and we’re going to talk about that. Number two reason why they don’t follow up, Jim, they don’t know what to say. And the number three reason, and this is where Easton University is a little bit different, is, I’m honest with people in my sales coaching, they’re scared.

It’s terrifying. It’s no different than that feeling. Remember when we were in junior high and you were going to ask somebody out to the dance?

Jim Fitzpatrick:
That’s right.

Matt Easton:
We have all that. Yeah. It’s the same anxiety.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Same thing. I agree.

Matt Easton:
Same thing. Same thing. All right. So if it’s cool with you, Jim, let’s fix it and then we can talk about cadence. Is that all right with you?

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Absolutely. Yep.

Matt Easton:
Okay. I mentioned bad language before. We got to stop using the F word. What is the F word? You know what the F word? Don’t say it, Jim. Here. Here’s the F word I’m thinking of. Follow up. “Hey Jim, it’s Matt Easton with Easton University. I’m just following up. Just wanted to follow up with you.” Okay, that’s gross.

And by the way, our sales training, Jim, and you know this because you and I have met a lot. It should mirror real life. If you were trying to get a date with somebody, you wouldn’t call them and say, “Hey Brittany, I’m just checking in. I’m just following up to see.” Don’t talk like that, it reeks.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
That’s right.

Matt Easton:
It reeks of like a salesperson with commission breath. So stop it. Don’t ever say it ever again, right? No more F words. No more I’m just following up on just checking it.
All right. So let me give you a formula, okay? It’s a three part formula, and I’m going to give you four deviations of this. Again, sword, shield, y’all write these down. Okay? Here’s the three part formula. Jim, I want your people to say their name, okay? Say who they are, and by the way, this is the same conversation, whether you’re leaving this on voicemail or it happens in real time. Same three parts.

I’m going to tell you who I am. I’m going to tell you my name, who I am. Then I’m going to tell you how we’re connected. This is vital. You have to say how we’re connected, okay? Then I’m going to go through my message and I’m going to give you four deviations of the message. But let me give you the opening. Sounds the same for all of them. So, “Hey Jim, Matt Easton, founder of Easton University. You had called in about our sales training.” I just told you who I am and how we’re connected. You don’t just say, “Hey Jim, it’s Matt Easton with Easton. I’m just following up to see if you have…” “Hey Jim, this is Becky. I’m the owner of Becky’s Flowers. You had visited our store yesterday.” “Hey Mike, this is Steve Adams over here at Friendly Ford. You had filled out a web request on our form.” So who you are, how you’re connected.

Now let’s get into the message if it’s all right with you.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Sure.

Matt Easton:
Grab the sword and shield audience out there. Here’s the message I want you to leave. Now, your people aren’t going to be afraid anymore, they’re not going to be scared, they’re not going to know what to say, because I’m going to show them what to say right now. So they’re going to say who they are, how they’re connected. Here’s the first message. My two favorite words, if they’re NSO, next step obsessed, which we can talk about that on another segment. But next step obsessed means I’m always going to set a next step. “Jim, you and I have talked about this in the past, right? I’ll call you Thursday.” So if I have a next step set, I can open my follow up with the most beautiful two words ever.

And that is “as promised.” “Hey, Jim. It’s Matt Easton, founder of Easton University. As promised, I’m calling to see if it makes sense to get your team on the sales train.” So as promised, and then you’re going to say, “I’m calling to see if it makes sense to blank.” I want your people to fill in the blank. Notice what they’re not saying. “I’m just following up and just checking in.” I’m calling to see if it makes sense to have us do the flowers for your wedding. I’m calling to see if it makes sense to come and test drive the new Ford Bronco. I’m calling to see if it makes sense for you to get your order in before the end of the day today. In life, they’re going to get more of what they want out of life if they ask for what they want.

And by the way, nobody wants to just follow up or check in. They want that outcome to happen. So calling to see if it makes sense to blank. Okay. If they’re not NSO, I can teach them that, but they’ve got a lot of deals in their pipeline where they haven’t set a next step. I get it. Here’s what they’re going to do. Okay? So you can’t say the as promised. So you’re going to say who you are, how you’re connected. Then you’re just going to jump into does it make sense to blank? Does it make sense to test drive the Bronco? Does it make sense to reserve at your wedding at our restaurant, whatever it is.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Yeah, whatever it is you’re selling.

Matt Easton:
Perfect. Yeah. So that’s number two. Okay? Number three that they can use. Everybody in the world wants to give their opinion. Go check social media. So same thing, who they are, how they’re connected, and then they’re going to say something like this, Listen to my tonality. “Hey Jim, Matt Easton over here at Friendly Ford. You were in the dealership yesterday. Hey, I’ve got an idea that I’d love to get your opinion on. Can you call me on my mobile (720) 660-3202.” So that’s the other derivation they can use. By the way, their callbacks are going to go up 700% when they just say… Now, notice what I’m not saying. “Hey, I’ve got an idea. I want to get your opinion.” Just, “Hey Jim, I’ve got an idea I want to get your opinion on. Can you call?” And then when they call back, the idea is what? We’re booking up really quickly for wedding rehearsals. We’ve got one Ford Bronco allocation that’s coming in, calling to see if it makes sense to put your name on it, whatever it is.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
And they don’t even know that yet. Don’t tell them the idea. That’s the whole idea of the call.

Matt Easton:
Yes.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Don’t tell them the idea on the call. I have an idea. Plant the seed and then that’s the hook to get them to call you back.

Matt Easton:
Yeah. This is why I love working with you, Jim, because you get this, you’ve been doing this for decades and you ask the right questions. That was such a perfect question, Jim, because here’s the thing, this is a big mistake and why people don’t follow up. They leave some sort of mini sales pitch.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Right. Yeah. Forget it.

Matt Easton:
It’s bad.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
That’s right. When you said that, “Give me a call because I’ve got an idea that I want to get your opinion on,” it might be on the personal side. It might be something, I’m thinking about buying a house or buying a boat or getting something else, and I know that you’re into that or what have you. So I want to get your opinion on it. It doesn’t necessarily say, I want to sell you the product or ask you about the product that I sell.

Matt Easton:
Yes. And do you know how starved people are for… You just paid them such a compliment in saying you want their opinion. Now here’s the thing. You can do with this what you want, but if you’re not on our sales training, the people that are on my sales training know that I will kick them off if they do stuff like this. I want you to be ethical. I want you to be honorable. Please. When they call you back, don’t slam them into something. Ask their opinion on something. And that opinion can be, does it make sense to play? “Jim, I wanted to get your opinion to see if it makes sense to grab this Ford Bronco for your wife because we only have one or whatever it is, right?” Ask their opinion. Don’t be pushy.

Along those same lines of making people feel good, I’m going to make everybody feel really good right now, and this is a great one for those opportunities, those leads that our viewers bought, but that it may be they’re smelling a little funky. They’re a little expired. It’s a month old. Okay? You talked to them once. They came into the store once. They called you once. You haven’t followed up because 82% of sales reps don’t do it.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Don’t follow up.

Matt Easton:
And now a month has gone by.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
That’s right.

Matt Easton:
Okay. I want you to pay him a compliment. It sounds like this. I’m still going to say who I am, how we’re connected. “Hey Jim, it’s Matt Easton, founder of Easton University. We had spoke a month ago about the sales training.” And now if that opportunity’s over a month old, I want them to say this. “Jim, I’m not sure if you remember me, but I remember you and something came up this morning and I’ve got an idea that I’d love to get your opinion on. Can you call me on my mobile (720) 660-3202?” I’m telling you guys in this brutal negative world of social media, just saying to somebody, and listen to my tonality. “Hey Jim, I’m not sure if you remember me, but I remember you.” That makes people feel good, right? And they’re going to be so apt to call you back. I know I just covered a lot of stuff.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
When you say that, I feel like I owe you a callback. It’s almost to the point that, “Oh my gosh, he remembered me. He thinks I don’t remember him.” And I might have remembered him, or I might not have. Either way, I kind of have to let that person know that, “No, no, no, I remember you. Yeah, we had a great talk about sales training, whatever the case might be. What was it I can help you with?”

Matt Easton:
You manage a ton of people there, Jim? Wouldn’t you rather your people at your studios be having conversations like that rather than, “Hey, I wanted to see if you guys wanted to advertise on the network.” And slamming people. It’s not skillful. It’s not fun, which is why nobody follows up and it’s not a collaborative conversation. If they simply just follow this recipe, don’t say the F word. You’re never following up or checking in. Say who they are, how they’re connected, and then things like, “Hey, I’m calling to see if it makes sense to bring your family down to whatever it is the outcome that you want them to do.”

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Sure. And especially you really open the door for them to give you a definite after you say the whole following up, if you use that, and it’s been used for so many years, and I agree with you, it just does not work. It’s old, it’s tired. But when somebody calls me and says, “Jim, I’m just kind of following up on our discussion about whatever,” it’s a perfect out for me to go, “Oh yeah, we’re still not there yet, so I appreciate the follow up. Take care.”

Matt Easton:
Totally. And then you can’t set a next step.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
And then also, I know that you’re just checking the box to do your follow up or what you call an F word, because it’s so true. It’s just you know it’s going through the motions. The person you’re calling knows it’s going through the motions. So now they’re going to go through the motions as the consumer and go, “Oh yeah, yeah, we’re just not ready yet. But hey, I appreciate the follow up call.” It’s the easiest call to get off of.

Matt Easton:
Yeah. Tell me you’re not there yet. Okay, you ready? Hey, Jim. Matt Easton over here at Easton University. We had spoke about the sales training.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Yep.

Matt Easton:
I’m calling to see if it makes sense to get your team on board.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
You know, Matt, I’m just not there yet. I appreciate the follow up or the call, but I’m just not there.

Matt Easton:
Totally get it. Makes perfect sense. What’s a good next step?

Jim Fitzpatrick:
That’s good.

Matt Easton:
You have to answer, right?

Jim Fitzpatrick:
I’ve got to answer.

Matt Easton:
Right. Go ahead. Just make up an answer.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
You just asked me the next step answer. You know what? Check back with me in about a month. I think I’ll be ready then. Or whatever.

Matt Easton:
–now they say the next step.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Whatever comes out of their mouth, they’re going to be telling you how to close them, right?

Matt Easton:
Yeah, it makes perfect sense, Jim, I will follow up with you on October 12th if I haven’t heard from you before then. Fair enough?

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Sounds good.

Matt Easton:
Boom. And now I can still follow up sooner than that if I want.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Sure.

Matt Easton:
Even if you say to that person, what’s a good next step and they don’t say, “Oh, I don’t know. I just need to think about it.” I want them to just point that question at themselves. “Oh, makes perfect sense. What’s a good next step for me?” And it’s really weird when I ask you, “Hey Jim, what’s a good next step?” And you go, “I don’t know.” And I say, “Got it. Makes perfect sense. What’s a good next step on my end?” You want to boss me around. You’ll say, “Oh, call me Thursday.”

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Right.

Matt Easton:
And by the way, I’m cool with that. Call me new school, but I’m not this old school into, I’ve got to slam Jim. I’ve got to sell Jim. As long as I set a next step. And that deal is constantly moving down the conveyor belt and every conversation adds value, adds dignity, adds respect, adds to my credibility, and I set a next step. Good things will happen. What we can’t have Jim, because as a small business owner myself, I can’t have these small businesses, mid-size businesses, even the large businesses, spending all this money on advertising and marketing and nobody following up and set a next step. And 82% of the time, Jim, that’s what’s going on.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
I know. I know.

Matt Easton:
And it’s unacceptable.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
I’ve been in that situation where I haven’t gotten any kind of a follow up call. Anybody called me I’ve gotten a number of proposals over the course of the last couple of years on different items that we’ve needed either in the studio or among the sales team or what have you. And I’ve gotten a very nice proposal. I mean, somebody clearly spent some time on these proposals. Not an email, not a phone call, not a text message. These individuals don’t even know if I received the proposal, let alone read through it or to see if I had any questions about it. And these proposals are like 3, 4, 5 pages long. Very detailed, right down to some parts numbers that I would need and what have you, nobody ever called.

Matt Easton:
It’s 30 seconds to follow up.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
It’s just amazing.

Matt Easton:
Not to turn this into a group therapy session, but I know some of our viewers out there have experienced this. And I’m curious to get your opinion, Jim, on if you’ve experienced this. Last week, somebody had went through our entire interview process. It’s a $94,000 a year position. We loved them. They were great in the interview. Four days go by. Not one single follow up to see if it makes sense to put them in that role. And I couldn’t hire the person based on that. I’m like, if they can’t even follow up when it means them making $94,000, how am I supposed to expect them to treat my customers differently than they’re treating this situation?

Jim Fitzpatrick:
That’s exactly right. I completely agree with you. That’s not the right person, not the right fit for your company. And you’re right. We look for the same things. We look for the same attributes of individuals that come in to hear from them again. Some will send us something right from their car as soon as they get in their vehicle and “Hey, that was such an enjoyable conversation, whatever the case might be.”

Matt Easton:
Oh, you just want to hug them.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
I know you’re like, “Wow, that the guy or girl just left and this is just what we’re looking for.” And then of course, the next morning, “Hey, I’ve thought about some questions I’d like to ask you. Is there any chance we could jump on a quick call or would you like me to email them to you?” You’re like, “I’m all over this individual. This is great.” So I know what you’re talking about,

Matt Easton:
And I know you’re a parent, and I’m a parent too, but maybe the listeners out, the viewers out there, if they could just approach this as a parent and huddle their people up, they’ve taken some notes from this segment and just say, “Hey guys, I realize this is happening. It’s my fault.” This is the same way I do it with my kids. “It’s my fault. I own this. It’s my fault as the owner. It’s my fault as the manager. But we’re going to press the reset button on this. It’s not your fault that you haven’t been following up because you didn’t have a process. You’re scared. I get it. But here’s our process.” And then just show your people this interview and hopefully we can get them doing it because this is, we got to stop this yesterday. This is not good with 82% of sales reps not following up.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
That’s right. Let me ask you a question, Matt, and today with texting that’s so popular right now and obviously email, but texting even more so, is it okay, is it acceptable to follow up with a text message versus a phone call if a lot of your conversation with a consumer or a prospect has been through texting, Is that okay? Are you all right with that or?

Matt Easton:
Hundred percent. Because first and foremost Easton University, one of the things that we talk about is I want to be able to be there for my customer on the format that they want to be there. But at the same time, I want to make sure we unpack this question because if we were in marriage counseling and you said, Hey, is it okay if I just text my wife? I love you all the time, right? Because we text all the time, you’re going to get going to a D minus or a bad score on that.

Yes. Texting is okay. But at the same time, I also want your people to make the effort and make that call. Even if that person ends up texting you, doesn’t return your call. It’s not about them. It’s about you showing that you care enough to pick up the phone and leave a message. Think about your personal voicemail box, Jim. I would go to say that 70 to 80% of the calls you receive on your phone, nobody even leaves a message anymore. You get a bunch of calls from numbers you don’t recognize.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
That’s right.

Matt Easton:
And there’s no message left.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
That’s right.

Matt Easton:
Just go out of your way and leave that message that they can listen to and they’re like, Wow, this Jim’s a really good person. I’m going to text him. So text is okay. But please y’all just make the call. Show you care enough.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Sure. That’s right. And that’s what it’s about. It’s about connecting with that consumer. And to your point, with 82% of sales people not following up with their customers, look at how much that puts you ahead just by making the call.

Matt Easton:
You’re ahead of 82% of your competition.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Exactly. This sounds like an absolute no brainer. It’s not about price, it’s not about location, it’s not even about the quality of the product. It’s about who wants that individual’s business the most. Right?

Matt Easton:
Correct. And that 18%, Jim, you know what they’re saying? Hey Jim, it’s Matt Easton. I’m just following up.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Just following up. Using the F word. It’s an F-bomb.

Matt Easton:
So now if you can do it and be skillful at the same time.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
That’s right.

Matt Easton:
We’re on steroids. We’re not playing fair now at this point. The industry is ours.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
I love the question of, well great, what are next steps? And be quiet. Let it come from them, what the next steps are.

Matt Easton:
Because they’re in control. I want them to be in control. Forget this old, whether you go with my training or not, forget this old school garbage of slamming people and tricking them and saying things like, “Well, typically when I hear that, it means that you don’t have the money to make this decision. Or there’s something.” Stop it with that stuff.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
“I must have done something wrong. Where did I fail in my job to get you to commit.” Whatever the case might be.

Matt Easton:
Just be helpful. Just care and just set a next step and good things will happen. I can teach them how to do all the other stuff. But if they just watch this segment, Jim, and do this, their sales are going to go through the roof. Without any other thing. They don’t have to pay me a dime or do anything else. Just please follow up.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
That’s right. I’ve always said this and people that follow me know this, that sales training can be the differentiator for your company. It doesn’t require more ad dollars. It doesn’t mean you have to take less on your products. It doesn’t even mean that you need to buy more of your products to sell. If you can just increase your sales department’s closing ratio, that is the differentiator. That’s where you’re going to pick up that extra money. And it can be very big money. With the same amount of sales opportunities, the same amount of prospects in the funnel.

It’s not about putting more prospects in the funnel. If they’re not getting followed up on, which is today’s discussion, you got a huge hole in the bottom of that prospect bucket, then you’re not addressing it.

So sales training, this all begins with sales training and obviously with Matt Easton, you knock the cover off the ball in that area. That’s why we love having you on the shows because we get such great feedback from everybody that watches you, not just on your enthusiasm, and sometimes your crazy jackets that you wear, but that’s another show. But it really is to open the eyes of so many salespeople and managers. Managers that manage salespeople to say, “Look, it ain’t broken.” So many of these things, such as follow up, is a cornerstone of sales. But to your point, 82% of people aren’t even doing the basics. And of course you take it beyond the basics because you give them what to say when they call. And I will tell you, as a former salesperson myself, you are petrified. You’re not petrified. But it’s just an uncomfortable position. I think the analogy of being in middle school and asking somebody out is exactly right. You’re kind of like ugh.

Matt Easton:
I still get anxiety. I still get anxiety.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Of course.

Matt Easton:
It’s not going to go away.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Of course. That’s right. That’s right.

Matt Easton:
An NFL quarterback still gets anxiety that’s right before a game. It doesn’t mean that they’re not going to trust their process and follow their process. Just because if you’re scared of something, that’s a good indicator that you know what’s on the line. But just because you’re afraid of something, just because you’re anxious, doesn’t mean you should not make that call and then go tell Jim, your boss, “Oh yeah. They’re not ready for six months.”

Jim Fitzpatrick:
That’s right. That’s right.

Matt Easton:
And you know what gives you more anxiety? The unemployment line.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
That’s exactly right.

Matt Easton:
Pick one.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
And I might add, you referenced the NFL. You know the greatest NFL player out there, Tom Brady, I guess everyone would agree. The guy’s incredible. What is he doing from, I think it’s Tuesday because they take off Monday, but what are they doing from Tuesday to Friday before the big game? Or Saturday before the big game?

Matt Easton:
Three things. Practice, practice, and practice.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
That’s exactly right. And I don’t care how good or how much money they make, they are training. They’re in training. So ask yourself that same question. How many hours have you spent this week in training? Okay. And if the answer is zero like that, then you don’t deserve a big commission. You really don’t. You don’t deserve the money if you haven’t taken the time to perfect your craft. And that only comes from training. So Matt Easton, thank you so much. I really appreciate it. Sales trainer, consultant, and founder of Easton University. I very much appreciate it. We’re going to show all the information on how you can connect with him because this guy’s got the good stuff, especially for selling today in 2022 and beyond. Because it is a little bit different than it was in years past. So thanks so much.

Matt Easton:
Thanks, Jim.


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