Some sales reps dread the initial contact. The more seasoned ones will tell you that it’s really the follow-up that deserves your attention. Lead follow-up is a pivotal part of the sales funnel. One wrong move and the lead disappears. One good move, and you’ve got a new customer for life. So, how do you err on the side of good when following up with your newly warmed leads?
Start by understanding that most of your prospects are not going to commit to becoming customers right away. It’s rare that you simply cold call someone, tell them why you’re calling, and suddenly have a new customer. Cold calls aren’t about closing—they’re about opening:
If you do it well, your initial consultations should lead to some great opportunities for follow-up. That leads us to our first tip: do the follow-up.
A study showed that as many as five follow-ups are required for 80% of all sales deals. Conversely, only about 44% of sales reps surveyed said they follow up only once before they assume the lead is dead and move on. And for those who do keep going, 94% have given up by the time they get to the fourth attempt.
It’s going to be frustrating. However, if you do it well, you’ll develop a system that makes it easier for you to follow up with everyone on the right timeline and with the right approach. But, you can’t do anything if your sales reps aren’t even doing enough follow-up in the first place.
Although follow-up can’t follow a strict schedule or plan because it needs to be individualized, you can make a rough strategy for approaching follow-up. Not only will this make sure that you’re doing it well, but it will give your sales reps a roadmap they can use to perfect their own skills.
For example, have decision markers at each touchpoint that can help guide the lead and the follow-up at the same time:
You can even have a flowchart or roadmap designed specifically for sales reps to follow so that they know the next step in the process.
You can’t just keep calling people endlessly, hoping that eventually, they’ll be ready to have that final conversation and convert. Phone calls are a great sales tool. However, they’re only one of many tools that you have. Using different types of follow-ups gives people the opportunity to respond in a way that works for them. It also proves your interest because you’re willing to reach out in multiple ways just to talk to them.
People need to know that you have something of value to offer. It’s never about you or your product. Even when your product is the near-perfect solution to their problems, it’s about them. It’s always about the customer, or the prospect, in this case. You can provide value by:
There are certainly plenty of other ways to provide value, but these few should help you get started on coming up with your own and figuring out which ones are most effective.
Then, you can work on mastering one of the biggest challenges of follow-up: timing.
Something as simple as when you send a message or make a call can have a huge impact on whether someone wants to speak to you or not. For example, if you called them on Friday and immediately want to call them back on Monday, they might be a little put-off.
In your conversations, try to figure out what kind of timeline they have and space out your follow-up accordingly. That way, you aren’t overwhelming them, but you’re also not leaving them unattended for too long.
Another big reason leads fall through the cracks is that your reps are leaving things open-ended. Even if a lead is as hot as restaurant coffee, they still want to be told what the next steps are. Sure, they’re probably going to buy, but only after you help them get there.
For example, at your initial consult, you can end with something like:
“I’d like to touch base with you in a couple of weeks if that works for your schedule. I can call you around the same time, or if it’s easier, I’ll just shoot you an email to touch base and then we can go from there.”
You’re not giving them the option of no—you’re only presenting them with the choice to get a call or an email, allowing them to decide how they want their follow-up without being overwhelmed by choice paralysis. If they really don’t want the follow-up, they have to work harder to say so, proving their lack of interest.
The ones who are just in that in-between space and not sure where to go or if they’re ready to move are the ones you are trying to sway, after all, so your conversations should be centered around facilitating that.
In addition to providing support for outreach campaigns, the virtual receptionists at Smith.ai can act as your 24/7 answering service so you never miss an opportunity. We can even assist with lead intake and appointment scheduling to free up your time to focus on fostering those new prospect relationships.