10 Common Mistakes to Avoid with Lead Follow Up


Following up on leads is essential to keep them moving through the sales funnel. When you’re looking to turn leads into customers, follow-up is where it all happens. A mere two percent of deals are closed within the first communication you have with a lead. The rest come from the follow-up process. And speaking of process, you should have a plan in place that streamlines follow-up across the organization. That alone can alleviate several mistakes and missteps. 

You can also enlist the help of a team like Smith.ai, who can take care of your outreach campaigns and other needs. If you’re doing follow-up on your own, here are some mistakes to avoid. 

Mistake #1 – Skipping follow-up entirely 

Believe it or not, as many as 48% of sales reps never follow up with leads. If you make even one attempt, you’re doing better than almost half the business world. There are a lot of reasons that following up gets put on the back burner, but whatever you do, don’t save it for later or assume that your leads don’t want to hear from you again. 

Do the follow-up. Watch the results speak for themselves. 

Mistake #2 – Not following up soon enough

How long are you waiting to reach back out to prospects? A lot of information will tell you that 24 hours is sufficient time to respond, but in today’s fast-paced world, it’s far more likely that people want a response sooner. As a good rule of thumb, stick to a five-hour window to give people space but also be prompt. For additional follow-up, consider what works for each prospect. 

Mistake #3 – Timing 

When you do reach back out to your leads, you should make sure it’s a good time to engage them. Don’t call them back tomorrow if they said to call on Friday. Don’t wait until Monday morning when your decision makers are all in meetings and then try to reach out. Plan your lead follow-up carefully. Know time zones and be timely about communication. That way, you can ensure that you’re reaching people when it’s good for them. 

Mistake #4 – Generic content 

Today’s audiences want highly personalized communications, even before they get to know your business. That can seem like a tall order, but it’s worth investigating. General subject lines in email and generic phone scripts are just going to give people the impression that you don’t care to reach out personally. It’s also going to be less likely that they convert because they didn’t get the tailored messaging they desire. 

Mistake #5 – Being defensive

It’s human nature to be defensive at times. However, if you find that your sales team is being really defensive or struggling to connect with the audience, it could be a sign that something is wrong. You can’t overload people with information or expect them to automatically become a converted lead. This takes time and diligence. There’s no place for being defensive or taking things personally here. 

Mistake #6 – Using big words and industry jargon

People don’t want to have to decipher a communication from you. It’s essential that you keep your messaging simple and avoid complex language. Prospects are busy and they don’t have time to read long emails or figure out what you’re trying to say in your messages. Use simple sentences and short words and phrases for the best results. 

Don’t make people work to figure out what you do or how you can help. Spell it out clearly for them and leave no questions about anything. 

Mistake #7 – Limiting communication channels 

It’s tempting to stick to just phone and email for follow-up or to use the channels that you’re most familiar with. However, today’s leads are everywhere and if you are going to reach them effectively, you need to use social media and other platforms as much as you use phone calls and emails. 

You might even find that some people prefer communicating through a different channel, such as with social media. And if your initial emails and calls aren’t getting answered, it might be time to get creative and reach out another way. 

Mistake #8 – Only following up once 

Just as a majority of sales reps never follow up at all, very few will follow up more than once. However, it can take as many as five engagements to get a conversion, or even more. You need to reach out as many times as it takes to get the outcomes that you want. Make sure that you’re not pushy or overwhelming about it, of course, because that can actually work against you in the long run. 

Mistake #9 – Not defining the next steps 

You can’t leave follow-up open-ended and vague. You need to clearly determine the next steps in the process. For example, instead of saying you’ll check in next week, ask something like, “Will you be available next Monday to follow up and touch base so we can discuss your needs?” 

You need to be specific and direct. If people have a problem with a date or time, they’ll tell you. If they don’t like the avenue of communication you’ve chosen, they’ll let you know. They’re waiting for you to tell them how to proceed. Do it. 

Mistake #10 – Not adding value 

If you forget relevant information or don’t have an outreach strategy that explains how your company adds value for prospects, you’re going to get turned away time and time again. People want to know how your company can help them solve problems and alleviate pain points. You need to communicate this effectively in your follow-up and make sure that people know exactly what you have to offer. 

Let Smith.ai lead the way with better outreach and more 

At Smith.ai, we know that you’re busy. However, we also understand the value of a good follow-up strategy. Our virtual receptionists can work with you to create successful outreach campaigns, along with providing support for lead intake and appointment scheduling. We can also serve as your 24/7 answering service so you never miss another lead. 

To learn more, schedule a consultation or reach out to hello@smith.ai

Business Education
Sales Tips
Written by Samir Sampat

Samir Sampat is a Marketing Manager with Smith.ai. He has experience working with businesses of all sizes focusing on marketing, communications, and business development.

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