The practice of follow-up is essential for professionals in the sales sector. It is through the follow-up process that many salespeople reach or exceed their goals and convert conversations with leads into purchases.
This contact with the prospect can be done via email, phone, message, LinkedIn or any other means of communication.
This task is critical, but oddly enough, most salespeople will only contact you once and then wait for the lead to return. This happens because they consider this practice to be complicated, unnecessary or invasive in some way.
This type of thought is not accurate, after all, it is the sales professional's responsibility for maintaining the relationship and taking the conversation with the lead forward.
And it's not just us saying that, a research shows that only 2% of sales are made in the first meeting. Which means that you have about a 1 in 50 chance that your initial sales pitch will actually result in a deal closing. These numbers alone already show that adopting a strategic and optimized follow-up process is your best bet to obtain the desired result.
In this article, you'll learn how to organize and implement a follow-up routine within your sales team, and also how to adopt the right tools that will help you automate this process.
How to organize your sales follow-up routine?
Yes, a routine is necessary! The reason is due to the many tasks that sales executives perform during the day, and unfortunately doing follow-ups is the most neglected one.
The truth is that doing follow-up is also a form of "art". The more you do, the better you will be at it. Nothing can replace building solid habits, and in this case it is absolutely essential.
Every salesperson is usually bouncing from one call to the next one, talking to new prospects, filling out the CRM, and trying to stay on top of new potential prospects. Inevitably, ongoing deals and follow-ups are not going to be executed in the most strategic way.
With that in mind, we listed below seven tips on how to make the follow-up more automatic in the day to day of the sales team, and still maintain quality in this important phase of the negotiation:
1. Define how the follow-up will be done during the meeting
At the end of every sales call or meeting, ideally, you should ask potential customers directly what is the best way to contact them. Use this strategy to already assess their interest in your product or service, and then determine the next action.
For example, if the goal is to schedule another meeting to discuss some outstanding points, ask them to confirm an available time for this next call before the end of the meeting. If someone tells you they need another 14 days to make the contact, put that on your calendar and run a contact again in 14 days.
Allocating five minutes to clarify the next steps at the end of each call prepares you for the next interaction, and makes your schedule more organized, even with multiple clients on your sales funnel.
2. Remember to email before and after the sales meeting
If you have a schedule full of meetings, that's a good sign. However, many of these calls may not happen because the potential customer will also often be bottlenecked and forget about it. Therefore, reminders are important at least a few hours before a meeting.
Also very important is the follow-up email that will be made after the meeting, listing the important points discussed so that the potential customer can also keep in mind what is being offered and why it is being offered (remember that who needs to keep this conversation alive is the salesperson, not the customer).
So, make this follow-up memorable! Remember to give a lot of importance to the subject of the email to ensure that your message will be opened.
Email is also an important way to seek out those leads who have not yet scheduled their first meeting with the salesperson.
But if the idea of sending more than one follow-up email in these cases makes you uncomfortable, you're not alone. Our normal instinct tells us that if the lead hasn't responded to our first contact, they're not interested and won't like it if we bother them again. However, a study by Yesware showed a response rate of 30% for the first email and 14% for the fourth email. A total of 10 emails were sent in this research and the last email sent resulted in a 7% response rate. Despite these positive numbers, this same study showed that 70% of email flows are interrupted after just one email sent with no response from the lead.
Considering that approximately 80% of potential customers say "no" four times before finally saying the long-awaited "yes", it's critical that you adopt a follow-up process for your business.
But how long to wait before sending another follow-up email?
The short answer here is - not much! About 90% of recipients open and respond the day they receive an email. This means that if someone doesn't respond on the day you send your first email, most of those contacts won't respond to that specific email and will need a re-send to revive the conversation.
For this reason, further attempts are essential.
3. Use a good and simple call to action
Don't over-communicate at this point. Even if you're doing everything right, response rates will naturally be low. This is especially true if they come after cold calls. The best thing you can do is simplify your focus. Do not, for example, send 10 different links asking the contact to take multiple steps. If you're trying to get a follow-up meeting, keep the context just focused on that.
It can be very frustrating when you start to believe that you are repeating yourself. However, don't assume they are ignoring you on purpose. If you have that attitude, it will be harder than ever to follow up. As long as the lead hasn't said "no" explicitly, keep going with the best intentions and good cadence flow planning.
4. Track the opening rate of emails in the CRM
The first thing a salesperson can do at the start of their workday is check in the CRM who they need to contact and which leads haven't opened their emails yet. A CRM with this kind of functionality is a big asset when trying to continue the conversation.
More generally speaking, we can classify the open rates as follows: above 20% is considered great, between 10% and 20% is good, between 6% and 10% is considered normal and below 6% the performance was not too good.
5. Have a specific subject to contact again
Going back to item 2, don't follow up just for the sake of doing it. During each interaction, try to add value. If the prospect's company was in the news or there are important developments happening, bring that up and personalize the message, including how your company can be a direct part of that development. Research your prospects and the result will certainly be more interesting. At this point, it is essential to pay attention to previous interactions.
Also avoid long-winded formalities. If they are good leads, they are likely to be busy people who value their time. It's irritating to read three paragraphs of pointless topics, and smart people will know they're repeated phrases the moment you copy and paste what you use for every lead. Be nice, but get straight to the point.
6. Follow-up by email or by phone?
That depends on what you're looking for. Do you want to optimize for a) quick response or b) positive result?
If you optimize for a quick response, whether it's positive or not (because it's a more pressing issue), a phone call is the best way. However, it's also much easier to appear anxious, so the risk of turning a "maybe" into a "no" is much higher.
If you optimize for a positive outcome, email is the best follow-up medium. But sending a monthly email can take time, so take that into account.
In the case of leads, if you are dealing with a large number of leads, a proper sales engagement tool can help streamline the follow-up process. For example, a CRM that already has a built-in predictive dialer can help you call a large number of leads that you want to follow up on in a short amount of time - much faster than manually.
In this case, write down the main points that were discussed with the lead, and send them by email after the contact.
This habit will help you make a more direct and accurate contact, as nothing is more irritating than salespeople who get in touch without knowing what the main problem is.
7. Frequency of contacts
Start by analyzing your contact routine and try to find a pattern for each situation.
For example, if their product is a software and, on average, a potential customer takes 2 months to buy it; you can try to shorten this sales cycle with a greater number of contacts over just 1 month.
Firstly, you will need to test different ways of communication, sending times and approaches. Throughout the follow-up, be sure to constantly document these processes.
*These are not strict rules, they are guidelines
It all depends on the context, situation, relationship and interactions you had with the other person.
For example, if you follow an extremely busy CEO, don't send another follow-up email tomorrow, two days later, and four days later. Give them more time, maybe 4-7 days until the first follow-up. Maybe follow-up once a week. If you know that person receives 5,000 emails a day, respect this scenario.
As long as the follow-ups are relevant and generate value for the potential customer, it will be possible to qualify more leads and sell more confidently every day.