Do you know only 2% of sales are made, on an average, during the first attempt of contact? This means if no calls are made after the first attempt, you will be missing out on 98% of your sales, irrespective of the best practices you use. In fact, if you don’t follow-up, you will never be able to encourage dialogue with your prospective customer to eventually close the deal. Thus, it is not wrong to say that sales are all about ‘follow-up’ as you simply cannot expect your customer to make up his mind instantly as soon as the product is being introduced to him.
Great salespeople are relationship builders who provide value and help their customers win.– Jeffrey Gitomer
The Surprising Power of Follow-up
Following up with the client is a way to remind him that you are there to help by providing him solutions to his problems, thereby encouraging him further to act. Additionally, it allows forming a healthy relationship with him, which at some point can turn his decision in your favour.
On the other side, not following up can cost you:
Sales Follow-up Challenges
The compelling numbers highlighted above clearly throws light on how the practice of follow-up can convert your potential leads into customers. So, without further ado, let’s go through the four most common challenges faced by businesses with sales follow-up.
#1- Losing Heart Too Soon
Are you really making enough efforts to reach your contacts? Perhaps the answer is no because you just dial the numbers once and don’t try to contact them again. In sales, your objective is to reach out to prospective leads, persuade them and eventually close the deal. If you are dropping the contact by hearing the voicemail, the possibility is that you’re probably missing out on some big opportunities. Remember that the key to reaching out your potential buyer is to make at least 6 attempts to connect with him.
#2- Being Less Responsive
In some situations, you have to follow-up quick. Taking your own sweet time to respond to an online lead may cost you at some point in time. The rule of thumb is that if you have initiated contact with a lead, or if it comes via some inbound channel, you shouldn’t delay and follow up as quickly as possible. According to a study by IRC Sales Solutions, if you follow-up with a lead within 5 minutes, you are 9 times more likely to convert them. In fact, 30-50% of sales go to the company that responds first. So, the ideal time to follow-up is within an hour. However, if that is not possible, you should be responding within 24 hours.
#3- Using a Generic Template for Every Client
You have to contact hundreds of prospects each day, so it undoubtedly becomes challenging to personalize a message every time for a specific client. However, the importance of a personalized message cannot be underestimated. The report by Epsilon states that 80% of consumers are most likely to purchase from a brand that provides them with personalized experiences. So, incorporating personalized templates in your follow-ups does increase your chances to hold his attention. Interacting with your customer by referring to something which he posted on social media is also a good personalization choice.
#4- Being Disorganized
Have you lost track of when did you last follow up with the lead who specifically told you to contact after one month? Or lost count of how many times you’ve reached out to a new prospective buyer? This is a result of disorganization. The impact? It means you have missed out on some wonderful opportunities, not able to attain your numbers and given yourself additional stress.
To avoid this situation, you should start creating reminders for when to follow up with each lead on the calendar. This way you can ensure that there are no missed follow-ups and no replication of efforts.
Powerful Techniques to Follow-Up
Diligent follow-up and follow through will set you apart from the crowd and communicate excellence.– John C. Maxwell
Nobody prefers to invest in something and come out with no results. So, here are 7 proven sales follow-up techniques that can definitely deliver you good results, provided you remain consistent:
#1- Don’t Stick to One Follow-up Method
It is of no surprise if you’ve sent three to four emails to your prospect and got no revert. Maybe, you should switch to another method and try your luck to contact him via phone. Or, if no method seems to be working, there is no harm in connecting with him on a professional platform such as LinkedIn. The bottom line is that the opportunities to connect with your prospective customer nowadays are endless and so, using a variety of follow-up methods to get his attention is a good idea to utilize.
#2- Space your Follow-ups
Imagine you have a given a product demo to a company two days before and they have mentioned that they will get back to you next week after discussing the proposal with senior management. In this situation, if you call them on the very next day, the chances are that you will annoy them.
The purchasing decisions are not meant to be rushed. So, it is always advisable to space out your follow-ups after understanding your prospect’s timeframe. In order to increase your efficiency, you can set reminders on the calendar. This will ensure that you don’t miss the opportunity to follow up at the appropriate time.
#3- Offer Something Valuable with Each Follow-up
Your prospects will simply lose interest if you continue to hard sell and don’t provide them with value. Your entire interaction should be about them and the pain points & problems they have discussed with you or you have come to know with your research. You could even notify them of a special offer or limited-period discount which is always found to be a great way to engage the prospect.
Remember: Sales is not just about selling your product. It is more about selling a favourable solution to their problems. Hence, you need to make sure that you are offering a useful solution to them after hearing and understanding their concerns every time you get to interact with them.
#4- Don’t Miss Out on the Next Steps
Maintain clarity in terms of the next steps meant to be taken in the process with your prospective buyer. Capitalize the moment and lock the next step by specifically asking the day and time to meet/talk next and send an invite immediately so that it doesn’t go on hold. If your prospects have shown interest in and have asked you for the proposal, don’t lose the opportunity and get them away with the most-frequently heard one-liner, ‘Send it over and we’ll get back to you.’ Else, a meeting without commitment becomes more like a game of cat and mouse where you will end up in following-up.
#5- Don’t Underestimate the Power of a ‘Subject Line’
It is needless to say that the senior executives have several emails in their inbox at any specific time. Hence, they will not be going through your mail if you have a generic subject line like ‘touching base’ or ‘follow up’. They will be rather dumping it to the trash folder. So, you need to consider the importance of a good subject line as it holds the potential to make or break your follow-up. The subject line should be such that it entices your prospective buyer to know what you have to offer. Perhaps personalizing your subject line by using the recipient’s name increases your chances for your prospect to open the mail by 29%. Thus, you must remember to craft a subject line that is found to be irresistible by your prospect.
#6- Stick to the Point
You must acknowledge that your prospects are busy people and have tight schedules to follow. They will not be free to take out time for unnecessary long calls, wordy emails or never-ending mistakes. This is why it is noteworthy that you cut to the chase and keep your message in the follow-ups brief. Over-elaborating your message will anyway not solve any purpose and make your prospective lose interest soon. The challenge is to grab his attention and make them take an action in a defined timeframe.
#7- Know When it is ‘Enough’
Is it a good idea to keep following up a prospective buyer forever? The answer is no because at a certain point your message will turn aggressive, pushy or simply pointless.
So, when do you know it is enough? There is no definite answer to this question since it completely depends on the situations. Generally, successful sales require 5 follow-ups on an average and so, after making all the attempts, you should learn that a lack of response is a ‘no’. Again, it goes without saying that you shouldn’t be following up if your prospect has indicated his lack of interest. It will be a complete waste of time and efforts if you continue to contact them.