I’ve heard people recommend that you should make no fewer than 12 follow-ups after sending a quote to a prospect. While it might be a good strategy to bulldoze your way through a wall in some cases, other times you might be better off scaling it or digging under it. This is all to say there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to a sales follow-up strategy.
However, sales follow-up strategies are important and necessary to many who don’t even consider themselves salespeople. For example, if you’re a carpenter, it’s unlikely you’ve ever referred to yourself as a salesperson while at a dinner party, but the truth is, if any of your job function relates to closing business you are a salesperson, and you need an effective sales follow-up strategy.
The 12-point follow-up strategy is not one I’ll go into detail to here, but that doesn’t mean it’s not valuable. In fact, persistence is going to be important in whatever your follow-up strategy is. 44% of sales people give up after one “no,” and you definitely don’t want to be one of those people. So, while I may not say it, the Principles behind following up 12 times apply to each of my tips.
Vary your mediums
80% of sales require at least five follow-ups, so don’t make your follow-ups repetitive. Phone calls can be incredibly effective, but you don’t want to annoy your prospect. Emils are great, but can be too passive. Meeting in-person can be ideal, but this is the most time-consuming follow-up strategy, so you can probably only do it once or twice.
You shouldn’t randomly select which medium you use to follow up with a prospect. For example, it’s going to be tougher to reach somebody by phone on a Friday afternoon, so if you want to follow up then, try going with email or even social media. Being strategic about the different ways you follow up will give you the best chance to be heard, and ultimately, make the sale.
The soft follow-up
It may sound like a Seinfeld episode, but I assure you it isn’t. One of the major problems with being a salesperson is the person you’re selling to knows you’re motivated to sell. No matter how many times you show your prospect that what you’re offering will meet their needs, your prospect may not totally trust you. This is where the soft follow-up comes into play.
The idea behind it is to follow-up with a prospect, but remove yourself from the communication. Basically, you’re using marketing tactics to follow up with a prospect. This may come in the form of digital advertising. You can send targeted advertisements showing glowing online reviews of the product or service you’re selling.
If you use ActiveCampaign, here’s one soft follow-up strategy. Compose a site message to display when a contact visits your web page and is beyond the first prospecting call in your sales pipeline. They’ve likely come to do some independent research on your product. Configure the site message to direct them to the most relevant information that they would want to see.
This might be testimonials, online reviews, or case studies. You’ll be able to control the messaging, but the prospect will have found the message on his or her own.
Configuring your targeted site message
Remember just because you’re using this tactic doesn’t mean you should remove yourself from the follow-up process altogether. This is just one piece of the puzzle. You still need to be persistent in your follow-ups and be a resource for your prospect in case they have any questions or concerns.
How easy would it be if you only had to worry about one prospect at a time. Organization would take care of itself, wouldn’t it? Unfortunately that’s not the case. You have a CRM full of prospects and what feels like hardly enough time to keep up with all of them. Well this part of the follow up strategy has nothing to do with the prospect and everything to do with you.
It’s simple and obvious, yet bears repeating. Keep your sales CRM organized and maintain a contact timeline. Configure your CRM so that you’re reminded when it’s time to make a follow-up call or shoot out an email. Many CRMs and marketing automation tools, including ActiveCampaign, allow you to automate much of this, so get to it before you lose a sale to a forgotten follow-up.
Not done after the sale
Don’t treat a signed contract like a finish line. Of course there’s no problem with celebrating a sale, but understand that the work is not done. Following up after a sale is a great way to not only make sure your customer’s needs are met, but when done tactfully, it’s a great way to improve the chances that you can upset that customer in the future.
And post-sale follow-ups are not just for customers. If you lost out on a sale, don’t burn that bridge. The average company loses 10%-30% of its customers each year, so for every 10 sales you lose, there’s likely to be a couple of those people back on the market soon. This is one scenario where it’s probably not a good idea to follow up 12 times, but don’t be afraid to send the occasional email and check in.
Evaluate and reevaluate
As I said earlier, there’s no one-size-fits-all follow-up strategy that’s going to work for everyone. If you want yours to be successful, you’re going to have to pay close attention to what works and what doesn’t.
Split test different follow-up strategies. If you send 1,000 follow-up emails in a year, give half of the emails one subject line and the other half another. You’ll find out which subject line most effectively gets prospects to open emails and be able to optimize your follow up strategy further the next year.
This part is never-ending. You can always improve your tactics, but it’s on you to be vigilant and mindful about what your strategies are. Oh no, I’m starting to sound like Tony Robbins. I’m going to end this before I start telling people to walk over hot coals. Now get to following up.