You’ve just had an amazing meeting with a potential prospect. They didn’t purchase, but they’re very interested. …Now what?
Studies indicate that almost 80% of sales leads require at least 5 follow ups after the initial sales meeting. But nearly 44% of salespeople give up after just 1 follow up. On the other hand, there are sales reps who bombard their prospects with follow up emails and calls. Most of them never manage to seal the deal.
You need to approach sales like real life relationships. How would it feel if you got a daily reminder email from your better half asking if you still valued this relationship? Or a “just checking” call every other day?
Annoyed, of course.
You can’t be too pushy, especially in new relationships. And this is what you need to understand while following up with your sales prospects. You need to strike the right balance.
Here are a few ways to approach sales follow ups without annoying your prospects.
1. Ask for the Best Way To Follow Up
When you are in sales discussion with a prospect, you need to understand that you’re trying to create a win-win situation. The client needs your services and you need the business. So there’s no need to feel guilty in following up.
In fact, the best way to create a win-win scenario is by simply asking the best time and mode of follow up right after your first discussion. Your prospects are busy people and they’d appreciate if you show concern for their time.
Some prefer calls, some prefer texts, some prefer emails. Regardless of their preferred method, mailing a card is a non-intrusive way to demonstrate thoughtful professionalism.
2. Determine the Next Action Items
A meeting of any kind, no matter how successful and effective, without clear action items often goes to waste. Before you conclude your meeting, try to come up with at least one clear action item. You can use this to not only keep the client interested, but also give you a way to stay in touch with the lead.
The action item can be anything, but it needs to be time capped or at least have an approximate schedule.
You can’t, of course, push the client to make a decision in the first meeting, but you do need to extract something that both you and the client can look forward to.
3. Get in Touch the Same Day
Intelligent follow ups at the right times can have a very powerful impact on your prospective clients, and keep you at the top of their mind while choosing between different service providers.
Make sure you get in touch with the client the same day as your first meeting. In my experience, a short thank you email which includes the meeting minutes and the key action items, along with their approx. deadlines, works really well.
This achieves two objectives: it clearly communicates your understanding of the meeting to the client and it implicitly communicates your understanding of what the next action item is going to be.
Using automated card software to send a hard copy greeting card is one way to truly stand out.
4. Connect on Social Media
Depending on the industry, different platforms are more effective. Connecting with your prospects across platforms signifies your interest in them.
Almost every business professional has a LinkedIn profile these days. It’s such an effective tool for B2B sales professionals that almost 80% of all B2B sales leads generated from social media come from LinkedIn. Twitter on the other hand, is a great place to learn about your prospect’s interests. Facebook tends to be more personal.
You can combine the strength of these platforms to get closer to your target decision makers. Connect with them on LinkedIn, study their profile and engage them. Demonstrate your functional expertise and win the client over by showing a clear understanding of their problems.
5. Create Follow Up Triggers
Most sales teams adopt some kind of follow up sequences or triggers that are applied at different stages of the lead nurturing cycle. While the selection of follow up modes largely depends on the preferences of your clients, I generally find the following sequence applicable to most businesses.
Thank you email after the initial sales meeting along with the meeting minutes and action items.
Follow up email 24 hours before the deadline of the next action item, seeking acknowledgement.
In case of no acknowledgement from the prospect, send a mobile SMS/call for confirmation (depending on the prospect’s preference).
If none of these work, give your client a break, he might be busy in something more important or urgent. Instead, send a follow up email a day after the missed action item, and inquire when the meeting can be rescheduled.
Similarly, the frequency of emails can also vary depending upon the time duration between different milestones/action items. For example, if there’s more than one month between two action items, send a follow up email twice monthly with a reminder of your previous conversations.
You can also install a program like Yesware if you have a Gmail account to track your emails as it shows you whether your prospect has read your emails or not.
6. Offer Value in Every Follow Up, Without Pressure
Your follow ups should never be self-centered and product focused. Your real objective is to deliver value and build trust with the prospect. Your conversations should be so valuable that the client should look forward to having a chat with you.
You can do that by offering additional advice on how the prospect’s problems can be resolved effectively. Forget your product, just offer solutions that can cause immediate impact. Send them research articles, links to eBooks or other resources that can increase their understanding of the issue.
All of these confidence building measures not only get you in the prospect’s good books but also keep you in touch with them and help you nurture the lead. Remember, they’re running a business and their decisions will be based on their own interests, not yours.
No matter how slowly the whole process moves, you need to be patient and consider it a part of your job. This way even if you fail to win business, you’d still have a long term professional relationship that can be leveraged in future.
Follow Ups Increase Revenue
Follow ups are a crucial part of any sales cycle. But effective follow go beyond just repetitive calling and automated emails. The most successful sales people make their follow ups valuable for their prospects and demonstrate strong industry knowledge and a deep understanding of the problems at hand. By approaching your prospects with a multi-dimensional strategy, you can not only make your follow ups much more effective but also use them to build long term business relationships.