“Sorry, to bother you…” How many follow-ups have you begun with this phrase? You may be surprised that it’s a phrase you should actually avoid. For Meg Prater, saying this is a bad habit. “When you've been in sales a while, it's easy to develop bad habit,” she writes in a post for HubSpot. “You pick them up from other reps or take a shortcut during an especially busy week and, all of the sudden, you've added some skills to your repertoire that aren't helping you meet your quota.” But, it’s never too late to break a bad habit, and cutting this phrase from your conversations can change how prospects perceive, and respond, to you.
First, Prater wants reps to understand why this phrase is so bad. It implies:
- you feel you’re an annoyance.
- you’ve done something wrong.
- your time and energy aren’t as important as the prospect’s.
Instead, consider an alternative follow-up strategy:
Reference a mutual connection.
Start the dialogue by pointing out that you and the prospect have a colleague in common. First and foremost, it gives you something to instantly bond over and encourages a conversation. Also, as Prater points out, it might encourage more trust from the prospect.: “It signifies that if a friend works with this sales rep, the prospect might also enjoy working with the same sales rep.” You immediately set a foundation for trust and form a connection simply by using this tactic.
Don’t talk shop.
Go in a completely different direction by not mentioning business during a follow up. Instead, start a conversation about a topic that you know interests the prospect, or mention a hobby or other out-of-office interest. “Once you have them engaged again, use your best judgement to steer them back to the topic at hand: your offer,” she explains.
Check out her entire article for other great alternatives, and don’t be afraid to try them out the next time you need to follow up!