Leaving hundreds of thousands of dollars on the table because you didn’t call high? Here are 6 tips to fix that.
This past week I‘ve been working with a Maintenance Renewal team chartered with bringing in past due contracts. Some of these have been past due for months, and more than a few are in excess of $100,000. So why didn’t they close within the deadline period?
In a nutshell, it was due to fear of calling high.
In every past due account, the rep had several conversations with lower level people, all of whom promised on-time purchase orders, and none of whom delivered. In coaching these reps, the excuse was that these lower-level contacts were nice people, and we didn’t want to offend them by “going over their heads.” Their titles ranged from purchasing agent to Systems Engineer. There were no VPs or CXOs in the names to be called.
In my Maintenance Renewal classes, we discuss the reasons that reps have got to call high when closing on renewals contracts. There are other issues as well, but the main problem is that many reps aren’t high enough in the decision chain to talk with anyone that cares. The reps I’ve been working with this past week are now calling high, and they’re getting results.
So if your support renewal purchase orders are stalled and past due, I recommend these six tips that you can start using right away to get your orders in on time:
1) Cold call high, at the CXO/VP level, specific to where in the customer organization your product or service is being used (in our case, it was IT). Do it early in the sales process, and don’t wait for it to go past the due date.
2) Describe to the exec the product or service that’s being used, who or where it’s being used, and how it’s being used.
3) Explain that you’re calling to get a PO before service on it shuts down.
4) You may get asked why you didn’t call so-and-so (when so-and-so is associated with being involved in the sign-off process and was your initial contact). Explain that so-and-so is wonderful to work with, but the PO is past due, so you need executive approval to get a PO.
5) It’s a given that you should have visited the customer’s website to understand its business, and be able to articulate what your product or service does, in layperson’s terms, in two minutes or fewer. The exec will be asking intelligent questions, so you’ll need to provide intelligent answers.
6) The exec will ask “why are you calling me?” early in the conversation. Be able to articulate what you need (a PO), why you and his or her company need to work together to generate it, why the consequences of shutting down support will be detrimental to the company, and why you’re calling that exec to get the PO.
Maintenance and Support renewals are a specific type of sale with its own characteristics. Much of the time, the name you have on the call sheet is not the end-user, but instead is a purchasing contact. That’s just one of the differences. If you’re involved in this type of sale and are having challenges, follow the 6 tips I‘ve outlined above, and I guarantee that within three months, your past due renewals accounts will shrink noticeably and your revenues will jump accordingly.
Add calling high early in the sales process to your Best Practices Playbook.