Recently we posted about a study that showed the power and necessity of follow up in building relationships with buyers who ultimately do business with you. A startling fact, presented over and over in b2b studies shows that most sales reps do not follow up enough – despite the few we know of who seem to overcall – or follow up too many times with unqualified opportunities.
If you know that you have a “more probable” prospective customer – a potential buyer who is in the market niche where your company does its best work, and there are industry peers of your prospect company already working with you – it’s upon you to follow up and make connections in this company. The same is true for companies in your geographic territory who fit one of your buyer profiles. Instead of just marking in your notes that you could not reach anyone, keep reaching out to various buyers or those connected to your buyers and learn more to see if there could be an opportunity.
Thinking about both art and selling in sales, you must be smart in how you strategize reaching your targeted buyer. I know at least one colleague who, in getting no reply time after time, found that her buyer was speaking at a local event. After he finished his talk, she approached him. First she thanked him for a great talk and then she told him she had been unsuccessful in reaching him so she wanted to meet him in person. They set a time to meet and ultimately his company became a client.
Here are three ways to follow up better and gain more opportunities:
Look at Data
If you have been in your sales role for some time, look historically at how long it took from first dial to closed deal with past clients. This will give you a sense of your sales cycle and an idea on when to stop calling on this company. If you don’t have any historical data, start now by clearly noting as much detail in your CRM system as possible so that you can make some decisions based on actual data. Monitor the data moving forward and help
If you have little history or past clients in your role, look to your peers for benchmarks and data. Without that, you need to just call and reach out more than you might think.
Mix it Up
.A good rule of thumb is to contact a targeted decision maker (someone who you know is involved in a decision for your products or services) five times by phone with a varied message. Each message should add some value or insight for your buyer. There are numerous strategies on how to do this – we’ll post some of them shortly. Add in some emails with insight if you have that person’s email address. These tie in with the voice messages you are leaving. If someone contacts me five times by phone and email I know they are working to reach me above and beyond all others. If you get no response, look for the next person in their company who may be on the buying team for your product / service (there are typically 5-8 people involved in complex product purchases). Try them five or six times as well – a mix of voice mail, email, calls, and perhaps a LinkedIn message or mailed message.
Create a Targeted List
I’m most successful when I have a visual list of my targeted prospects – not an entire list of prospects but those ten or twenty companies I have decided I want to work with and where I think I can do great work for. In past sales roles, I always had this list, sometimes called a hit list, other times my “top 10”. Post it, make it visual with their logos, and have it in front of where you normally do your prospecting. Put a time in your calendar EVERY WEEK to contact people in and around your targeted companies and make progress toward meeting with their decision makers. Follow these companies on social platforms and find insight about their industry or job roles to share.
Because we don’t contact prospects enough, these ideas, in addition to others spoken about previously WILL help you close more business.
This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. I've been compensated to contribute to this program, but the opinions expressed in this post are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies or opinions.
Lori Richardson is recognized on Forbes as one of the "Top 30 Social Sales Influencers" worldwide. Lori speaks, writes, trains, and consults with inside sales teams in mid-sized companies. Subscribe to the award-winning blog and the “Sales Ideas In A Minute” newsletter for sales strategies, tactics, and tips. Increase Opportunities. Expand Your Pipeline. Close More Deals.