There are three points to consider when thinking about following up with prospects, buyers, and with leads:
A. Most sellers do not follow-up enough
B. With many in sales, follow-up effort is focused less about them and more about you, your products, and services
C. Many leads slip through the cracks because of a lack of methods and processes
Much hasn't changed in all the years I've been in sales - we are humans innately looking for instant gratification, so nurturing leads with those who are more probable to buy from us (rather than those less probable to buy from us) takes time and is not as fun or sexy as jumping in late on an RFP or other exciting thing.
Trust is built over time - you need to nurture your relationships and earn more trust as you go. If you master this, you can truly shine in sales.
So why all the problems with follow-up?
Depending on the study and your industry, you'll see that it takes 6-12 connects (or touches) with a potential buyer to bring a sales opportunity to closure. There are a lot of factors involved and I'm not creating this to show all of the industry stats and analysis - perhaps it would make a great follow-up post. Just focus on the fact that complex selling takes multiple follow-up touches in the form of:
- phone calls
- voice mail
- mailed card
Most sellers just don't follow-up enough. When you do, it sounds the same over and over. If you can create messaging that is progressive, meaning that what you say in your first voice mail message is a different message in your second and third, you'd get a better response some of the time. It is important to say "some of the time" because voice mail messages get responded to very rarely as it is. If you up your odds by crafting value-added messaging that progresses as the time progresses, you will be more successful. Sometimes it is simply that the next time you do call, and they answer, they will remember something about one of your messages and be more willing to give you a minute to talk.
Finally, it is about the system and process that you go about moving sales opportunities forward in your follow-up that helps you win.
Have a CRM system that allows you to show any sales opportunities you have, and a way to record any action you've done toward that opportunity, plus a way to set a next action that is automated. You can't remember everything, and Outlook (or gMail) just doesn't cut it for this. If you have a process that is not whole to move sales opportunities forward, you are leaving money on the table.
Once you have a solid system and suite of tools, you need the methodology in place on how you handle leads and inquiries.
If a lead comes into you, it is handled one way (hopefully very quickly, too).
If you are identifying who you want to do business with and reaching out to them, you have a different methodology.
Remember the three things that will affect the money in your pocket when it comes to follow through:
How many times you follow-up.
How your messaging sounds and what you are sending by email.
How systematized you are, tied in with a process for outbound prospecting as well as inbound leads.
When we help companies with this one area of selling, they grow business. It works. Try it, and post your thoughts.
What systems and process do you have in place for success?
How many times have you followed up before a deal came to closure?
What one tip can you share with others about hanging in there and nurturing leads?
Lori Richardson is recognized as one of the "Top 25 Sales Influencers for 2012" and one of "20 Women to Watch in Sales Lead Management for 2012 and 2013". Lori speaks, writes, trains, and consults with inside and outbound sellers in technology and services companies. Subscribe to the award-winning blog and the “Sales Ideas In A Minute” newsletter for sales strategies, tactics, and tips in selling. Increase Opportunities. Expand Your Pipeline. Close More Deals.