As most sales teams will attest, customers rarely buy the first time you talk to them. Follow-ups are essential in the world of sales, and the difference between a closed deal and a miss often comes down to the approach you use to check back in with your prospects.
Despite the importance of following up, most sales reps neglect it. A study by Brevet found that 80% of sales deals require five follow-up calls. However, 44% of sales reps give up after the first contact. An astonishing 94% give up after the fourth follow-up.
Persistence is what seals the deal, yet salespeople are often sensitive about coming across as aggressive. The only solution is to craft engaging follow-up communication that keeps the conversation alive. Here’s how to pull it off.
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Diversify Your Methods
One of the advantages sales reps have these days is the diversity of communication methods at their disposal. Typically, a sales engagement begins with cold outreach, either via email or the phone. If your prospect doesn’t respond, try messaging them on social media. If social media doesn’t draw a response, try email. If the email doesn’t work, try calling them.
Everyone prefers different modes of communication, so it makes sense to touch base with them through different avenues. You can use a sales engagement platform to learn about your prospects, review your pitch and tailor it further to your prospect’s needs.
Be careful about spacing your follow-ups. Prospects are often annoyed by the timing of follow-ups rather than the number of times you contact them. In B2B industries, products tend to be more expensive than in B2C, and purchasing cycles are longer. Always keep this in mind and give your prospect enough time to reflect on your pitch.
Understanding your prospect’s buyer decision journey will help you figure out how quickly you need to follow up. For instance, if you demoed your product last week, your prospect might need a few weeks to raise its features to a decision committee and receive a go-ahead. Respect their timelines and follow up appropriately through different channels.
Spacing out your touches via different channels will eliminate the possibility of you appearing pushy. The only exception is if a prospect clearly states their preferred contact method.
A common mistake salespeople make is to push for a sale with every follow-up aggressively. Instead, you must add value to every communication and strive to anticipate your prospect’s issues. Pushing hard for sale doesn’t work anymore since prospects expect customization and tailored experiences. In short, they expect you to know them well and sell to them accordingly.
A good rule of thumb is to ask your prospect how their business is going. If they mentioned a product launch in your previous interaction, ask them whether everything went smoothly. It’s also beneficial to link to content that speaks to the prospect’s pain points.
Linking to an article, a study, or an infographic that speaks to the prospect’s pain points proves that you’re interested in establishing a mutually beneficial relationship. If your marketing team has developed great content, highlight it. In this scenario, you can’t come across as pushy.
Notifying your prospects of a limited-time offer or discount is also a good way of re-engaging them and grabbing their attention. Pay attention to your subject lines. Generic subject lines like “following up” or “checking in” don’t cut it. You must personalize your subject lines to get your prospect’s attention.
Referring to a previous conversation or letting them know that you felt the article you’re linking to in your message might be helpful to them are great subject lines. Asking them for their opinion on some issues is also an excellent way to engage your prospect.
Communicate Next Steps
Critical mistake salespeople make neglecting to define the next steps of the process. Your job as a salesperson is to guide your customer along their buying journey. Define when and how you’ll follow up with them as well.
For instance, telling them that you’ll call them next week is vague and doesn’t communicate commitment. Telling them, you’ll call on Wednesday at 9 AM is a great way to understand where they stand and communicate your intent to follow up.
It’s always a good idea to keep your follow-ups brief and let your prospects raise issues they might have. An email follow-up should not be longer than six lines long, and a phone call shouldn’t last for more than ten minutes, assuming the prospect hasn’t raised any issues.
At some point, you’ll have to figure out whether continuing to follow up is still appropriate or not. Typically, salespeople need five follow-ups to gauge a prospect’s interest, and this is a good benchmark to use. It’s best to send a final message that reiterates your pitch and confirms that the prospect doesn’t seem to be interested in your offer.
Keep it short and sweet, and you might hear back from them. Either way, you’ll know where you stand with them.
Perfect Those Follow-Ups
A perfect follow-up always adds value to your prospect’s journey and positions you as a helpful assistant along the way. Help them solve their issues, and you’ll manage to close deals. Follow these tips to ensure you’re always following up appropriately and never being aggressive or pushy.