IF YOU’VE READ MY BOOK, ‘Selling Big to China‘, then you’re familiar with the concept of the ‘check’. First coined by Michael Hewitt-Gleeson, Checking is the focus on input, rather than output as a sales function. To simplify, rather than focusing on time-lagged sales results of the future, ‘checking’ focuses on what you do TODAY to get closer to closing the deal. This is because in reality sales people might bring a customer closer to making the decision to buy, but can never actually get the customer to switch from ‘not buy’ to ‘buy’, ‘not choose’ to choose’, or ‘unlike’ to ‘like’. That synaptic switch is controlled 100% by the other person – the customer.
As you probably guessed from the accompanying image above, ‘checking’ borrows from the game of chess. When a player’s piece is in check they can’t focus on another part of the board – their entire focus must be on the king. Likewise, as you read this article, I have your complete attention. So therefore, if I happened to mention my company, ClarkMorgan, and the work we do in training and developing talent across Asia-Pacific, you’d listen. And because you are thinking of me, my company, and the work we do, your neurons could switch from ‘not buy’ to ‘buy’, ‘not choose’ to choose’, or ‘unlike’ to ‘like’. Without this ‘check’, you wouldn’t have spontaneously thought of me, my company and the work we do. You’d probably be sitting there just be thinking about lunch.
So as you can imagine, it’s vital that you, my potential client, are ‘in check’ as often as possible, since the more you are thinking of me, my company, or the work we do, the more likely you could pick up the phone or email me.
It is upon this philosophy that my sales team have always had their sales input measured via a ‘Quality Score’. An email is 1 point, a phone call 5 points, a postal-out (ie. ‘snail mail’) is 7 points, a group meeting 15 points and a face-to-face meeting 20 points. All of these actions, or inputs, ensure that the potential customer is thinking of you, or in other words, is ‘in check’. Maintain 1000 points within a moving 30 day calendar, and you will not only avoid the wrath of your sales manager, but more than likely hit your sales targets. Consistently fall under, and you are unlikely to see the next quarter – let alone hit it.
The concept of ‘checking’ is not rocket science, but it does require diligence – a quality not often innate in sales people. One of the biggest challenges for sales people is thinking of a reason to put a client ‘into check’. And that’s where the ‘connect check’ is of value, because it provides infinite opportunities to keep the client thinking of you, your business and the service that you provide.
I’ll explain the ‘connect check’ with this example. Some years back I was at an event where I met a senior decision maker; a C-level gentleman with a slew of titles after his name and his own Wikipedia page. The exchange was brief, barely 10 minutes in total, and although there were 30 years between us, I was able to find a connection. This gentleman’s daughter was studying Mandarin and was interested in a career that would take advantage of this skill. A day later, I sent the following brief message:
It was a pleasure to meet you at the conference yesterday. You mentioned that your daughter is interested in a career that would utilise her Chinese experience, and so I’ve taken the liberty to share with you our video series called ‘ClarkMorgan Insights’ which highlights the idiosyncrasies of doing business in the world’s largest market. I’m sure she will find the insights valuable.”
Ted replied with thanks, and we remained in regular contact. As the weeks went by, I continued to keep Ted ‘in check’. Whenever I stumbled across an online article about China, learning Mandarin, or the importance of a second language, I would send on that link. I didn’t specifically ask for business, because I knew that Ted knew who I was, who my company was, and the work that we do.
And yes, around four months later, Ted switched from ‘not buy’ to ‘buy’. He picked up the phone, only hours after I’d sent an email (1 point), and said “Morry, I’d like you to come into our office and help me with a little problem.”
I never told him, but Ted had been closed with 48 Quality Score points – a personal best for a ‘check mate’!