ON CHECKING IN: YOU NO LONGER HAVE AN EXCUSE

You log in to your CRM and the same old list of calls to make is staring back at you. They are follow-up calls. You have no idea who these people are. They’re customers. They’re prospects that you lost some time ago. But, regardless, you’ve forgotten about them. You quickly review the notes you have from your last encounter, pick up the phone, prepare your “just checking in” spiel, and dial away.

I know many people who have written great articles on this very subject. Sales experts Anthony Iannarino, Dan Waldschmidt, and Craig Rosenberg have all addressed it profoundly, but the entire blogosphere is filled with scathing remarks against “check in” calls. What’s so wrong with calling your customers to “check in?” Isn’t follow-up a good thing?

Well, the problem isn’t that you’re following up; the problem is how you’re doing it. “I’m just checking in to see how you are doing” translates as, “I want to know if there’s any way I can sell you something right now.” That’s what you’re really fishing for and your prospects can tell. Why the charade?

The fact that you are trying to sell something, of course, isn’t a bad thing in and of itself. If you have something valuable to offer, there’s no reason why your customer wouldn’t want to buy it. The problem with just “checking in,” though, is that it means you are being lazy in your selling.

You are expecting your prospect to just come clean and start spewing out all of their problems like a teenage girl who just had her heart broken. That’s not going to happen. Just like any other interaction in the human experience, when you say, “I’m just checking in to see how things are going,” your prospect’s default response is going to be, “fine.”

Checking In is So Last Decade

Perhaps the practice of “checking in” used to have some validity. Back before social media, back before the Internet, when information wasn’t so easily accessible. Maybe then, checking in would have actually made sense. There really wasn’t any quick way to see how your customers were doing other than to pick up the phone and call them.

Well, it’s time to wake up. You no longer have an excuse to check in.

You should already know what is going on in your customer’s world. The social web has eliminated the need to “check in” and feel out your customer. You should be following your customers on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google Alerts–whatever mechanism allows you to keep up with what is going on in their businesses and lives.

You no longer have to call your customers to find out if they have problems; you should already know what their problems are. You should be calling with solutions. You should be able to refer to a post, status update, link, or photo that you can offer a solution in response to. Instead of saying, “I’m just calling to check in,” you should be able to say, “Hey, I’m calling because I saw in that article that you were considering…”

“Checking in” is dead. Stop doing it. There is no value in it for you or your prospects. Instead, start “checking out” what you’re prospects are up to and make your calls about what you can do to help.

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