Studies reveal that almost 80 percent of sales leads require at least five follow-ups after the initial contact before a sale is made. If you’re a sales person and you’re only doing one or two follow-ups, then you’re losing out on the majority of sales you could be making. You need to learn and implement the one thing that will dramatically improve your sales: a follow-up system.
Typically, it’s the follow-up that gets the sales cycle moving forward. It’s here that value manifests itself. It’s here where significant information is gathered, and it’s here that a relationship begins to flourish. For this reason, it is extremely important to make the most of your opportunity (https://www.inc.com/guides/find-new-customers.html).
After inquiring on why most sales people don’t follow up, the most common response is, “We're too busy.” This response is a red flag that the problem is not that they lack the time to follow up with prospects, but that they don’t have a systematic follow-up process in place and they don't know what to do.
What Should a Good Follow-up System Look Like?
A good follow-up system should have the following qualities:
-It should follow a systematic process, meaning there should be systems put in place to guide it step-by-step.
-It should require minimal effort to get it running, meaning it should be effective without too much labor.
-It should produce predictable and consistent results each time.
Sounds easy, right? The secret to creating a sales following up system is to make it as simple and straightforward as possible so you don’t have to work too hard to get the job done (https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/83558). Here are some tips to help you create a systematic follow up system:
Perhaps the single greatest mistake sales reps make is not establishing a specific date and time for their next follow up after an initial contact. Vague commitments from the prospective, “I’ll call you next week,” usually result in a lot of missed calls, emails and ultimately a longer sales cycle. All this can be avoided if you ask for a follow up date and time. You could say something like, “I’ll be glad to send you an e-mail on Monday the 17th, at 10.00am so that we can discuss the way forward. Creating a specific follow up time is a simple yet extremely powerful tactic (https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/224931).
The day prior to your follow-up call, you need to send a short email to remind the prospect about your appointment. Your email should confirm the time and date of the meeting and maybe briefly hint on the agenda of the call. You could write something like, “Hi Andrew, the call will only take 5 minutes. We will review the proposal, and I’ll provide answers to all your questions.” Notice how subtle the message is put across. The brief nature of the message will offload any pressure the prospect might have, and he will likely be more receptive to your call (https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/185880).
This is a huge tip. When calling the prospect, don’t just call to follow up. In other words, avoid calling only with the intention to see if they have received your proposal or if they have immediate feedback for your products and services. Utilize the little time to weave in a satisfactory reason for your call. How can you add value to them? Is there something noteworthy you would like to share? Perhaps a success story with a similar client? The trick is to immediately connect with the prospect, deliver value from the get-go and begin to understand the challenges facing them.
Following up doesn’t have to be sales oriented. In fact, most of your initial contacts should focus on solving the client’s problems instead of closing a deal. You can achieve this by offering free advice on how the client’s challenges can be addressed efficiently. Shelf your product or service, and just give them solutions. Send them research articles and links to valuable resources to increase their knowledge of the issue. All these measures will get you in the prospect’s safe side and help you nurture the lead (https://www.inc.com/john-rampton/14-skills-entrepreneurs-need-to-win-clients.html).
Almost every business professional has a Twitter account and LinkedIn profile these days. They have become extremely useful tools, especially for B2B sales professionals. You can take advantage of these two platforms to learn about your prospect’s interests and get closer to the decision makers. Connect with them on LinkedIn and engage them in meaningful discussions on the platform. Follow them on Twitter and understand their company as well as the challenges facing them. Validate your functional expertise, and you will most likely capture their interest.
If you leave your food for too long, it’s bound to get cold. The same applies to your prospects. If you don’t constantly remind them why they should invest their time in you, something else will take the precedent. The follow-up process must continue up until the client realizes that you are a valuable asset. This will not only boost your profile and opportunities but will also keep you in the minds of the most influential people in the database. The truth is, if you approach a prospect in a professional and timely manner, you will never be a nuisance (https://www.inc.com/guides/find-new-customers.html).
Most people adopt some kind of follow up sequence that is applied at different stages of the sales cycle. While this might be largely dependent on your preferences, I generally consider the following sequence applicable to most businesses. First, you send a thank you email after the initial contact along with the agenda. Then, send a follow-up email one day before the next action item to seek approval. In case of no response from the potential client, send a call for confirmation. If nothing works, give your prospect a break because he might be busy doing something more urgent. Instead, send a follow-up email a day after the missed appointment to see if the call can be rescheduled (https://www.inc.com/john-rampton/14-skills-entrepreneurs-need-to-win-clients.html).
Follow ups are often tiresome and can consume a lot of time. But that is no excuse to show frustration and anger at your potential client. Don’t try and force them into making decisions. A prospect doesn’t owe you anything. They are in business and their decisions will only be based on their interests, not yours. No matter how long it takes, you need to be patient and understanding. This way even if you do not close the contract, you’ll have created a professional image that can be leveraged anytime in future (https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/224931).
The bottom line:
Having solid follow up strategies will make you stand out from the dozens of other people calling the same prospects as you. But effective follow up goes beyond repetitive calling and emailing. The most successful follow ups deliver value by demonstrating strong industry knowledge and a deep understanding of the challenges at hand. Make the most of your follow ups and watch your prospects turn into clients.
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