The Art of the Follow-up Retest
By Candice Wentling
Most organizations are seeking new ways to increase ticket sales, add new business and strengthen sales skills. In other words, they are looking to get the most out of both their staff and their leads. For instance, imagine having 10 employees and one of them is out-performing the rest. What would it do for that business if the other nine just increased their production by 10 percent? Well, collectively their increased achievement would be like adding another employee, but without the cost. Sometimes, we as leaders and sales professionals focus so much on new ideas and concepts that we forget to just do the work. Simply put, would all that effort be better served by getting back to the basics and just getting to work? Such is the art of a follow-up retest.
For clarification purposes, the retest is performed after the sale and installation of the proposed water treatment solution to ensure customer satisfaction. Many other objectives of a retest include gaining referrals, eliminating buyer’s remorse, exploring up-sell opportunities, building a loyal customer relationship and canvassing the neighborhood. Most of us know the invaluable benefits associated with the retest, but I would ask why this doesn’t happen 100 percent of the time?
Before we get to why we don’t do it, let’s discuss why we should. To put it bluntly, we should do it because we promised it during the sale. Even if you didn’t promise a retest specifically, complete customer satisfaction was promised. We make a lot of promises to gain a sale but become irritated and inconvenienced when we need to follow through with them. Next, we must do a retest to catch mistakes or problems with equipment immediately, before the customer does. There is nothing more frustrating to a customer than to realize there is a problem after the install was complete, just do find out that their warranty has expired.
Another reason we should perform a retest is because it is a differentiator. Differentiating your company is setting it apart from your competition and an in-home, follow-up retest does just that. We care enough about our customers and stand behind our products enough to do it. Speaking from a sales perspective, the retest is a great time to discuss up-sell opportunities; the customer’s guard is down and trust has already been established. Now is the perfect time to add on that drinking water system or maintenance program that you weren’t able to do initially.
In my experience, there are four main reasons why sales professionals do not perform in-home retests:
• Waste of time. They believe that their time can be better spent running other appointments.
• No opportunity to make money. Actually, they argue that it costs them money because of the gas they use.
• It’s unnecessary. The customer doesn’t want to be bothered and the installation technician already checked to make sure everything was in working order.
• Laziness. Sometimes it is just a lack of motivation or productivity that is responsible.
So now that we have reviewed the importance of going back to basics and performing follow-up, in-home retests, the objectives we have by doing the retest and why they aren’t performed, let’s move on to how we can improve.
• First, it is most successful to book the retest at the time of the sale. Consequently, the retest appointment would be marked directly on the sales agreement and would aim for about two weeks after the installation is complete. It should also be noted on the thank-you card mailed out following the sale as a reminder.
• Next, sales teams should be prepared with a plan going into the retest. What exactly are they looking to accomplish during the retest? For example, an objective might be to gain two referrals or add a maintenance program. Regardless, their objective should be measurable and specific. Once an objective is set, sales professionals should have questions prepared in advance to initiate the discussion. For instance, if the goal is to gain referrals, the first question might be: “How many of your neighbors are on the same water supply as you?”
• Sales professionals should be overly thorough by retesting the water with their test kit (including the soap test) and check the equipment for leaks. It is important that the customers see them genuinely interested in their satisfaction.
• To supplement the company’s professionalism, the sales representative should have a dedicated retest form for the customer to sign. This is not only verification that the retest has occurred but can be used if there are any claim issues in the future. On the rare occasion that a customer refuses a retest appointment, it should be noted on their account.
• To combat the sales team’s belief that retests may keep them from running appointments, advise the team to review customer accounts that are eligible for upgrades or add-ons, as well as past unsold leads nearby and schedule appointments to supplement their retest trip.
All things considered, retest appointments are essential and require good old-fashioned hard work. A sales professional would not stop running sales leads because a few of them didn’t work out; therefore they should have the same attitude toward retests. Just like any sales opportunity, some go our way and some don’t, but collectively their success is relative to the effort expended. Don’t underestimate the art of the retest; by ensuring that it is incorporated in your company’s sales culture, you will see your productivity increase.
About the author
Candice Wentling is Sales Trainer and Distributor of Action Selling™ and Director of Certified Action, a business consulting firm. She has been conducting sales training seminars, field coaching and leadership accountability for the last 13 years. Wentling began her sales career in the supplemental insurance industry and was quickly promoted into a management role. She became the youngest District Manager in the organization, going on to win their top sales award 18 times. Wentling then transferred her skills and began working in the water treatment industry as a Sales Manager with an industry-leading company, reorganizing and developing training programs. In addition, she has conducted regional workshops, worked directly with on-boarding and training of new sales representatives and consulted for leaders in multiple organizations.