Do you feel like you suck at sales follow-up? Well, if so, you’re not alone. And there’s a good chance you’re being too reasonable about it all. Let me show you why.
Check out these crazy statistics:
- 48% of all salespeople never follow up.
- 64% of companies admit they do not have any organized way to nurture leads.
- 72 hours is the average time it takes a company to follow up with a prospect.
Don’t feel bad if you aren’t doing a great job with sales follow-up. Beyond a manager just saying “follow up” over and over, you probably were never given proper training.
I’ll walk you through the tools, strategies, and scripts you need to get better at this follow-up thing.
First, Here’s How You Can Follow Up with Clients Effectively
There are three main methods you can try — and combine — to get back in touch with a potential client.
Salespeople and customers alike tend to prefer texting because it’s so easy and so fast. It’s also less obtrusive than a phone call.
If you’re going to have one contact, you want it to be their personal cell phone number.
Make it a priority to ask, “What’s your cell number?” Or even better, “Where can I text this to you?”
It doesn’t matter if it’s a piece of information, a photo, or a link — just ask where you could text the data. If you’re meeting with them in-person, you can even take a picture of them with the product and then send it.
Whenever possible, try texting data while you’re selling. When someone is requesting data from you and you text them during the sale, the chance of converting goes up 300%.
Make texting prospects a priority — it has proven to be the number one tool when following up a potential customer.
The follow-up call is what will really get your sales cycle rolling.
Personally, calling is one of my favorite ways to follow up, even though I go through all the same doubts that you probably do in the process.
Am I being too persistent? Will they answer? Are they going to tell me not to call anymore? Will they deny me?
I go through all that — but at least I know I’m talking to someone.
IF I TALK TO ENOUGH PEOPLE, I’LL SELL SOMETHING.
So, when you’re ready to dive in, where do you call? Cell first, then office, then home.
Who do you call? Everybody.
When I make a call, I actually make six to eight phone calls. If I call a company, ask for Bob, and he’s not there, I ask for his voicemail. I leave a message, then call the receptionist again and ask who is underneath Bob.
She says it’s Jack, then I ask for Jack and get his voicemail. “Hey, Jack. I just left a voicemail with Bob and wanted to leave a voicemail with you. Here is my number.”
Then I go back to the receptionist and ask who is under Jack. Shelly is. I call her and she finally picks up. It’s the first contact of the day.
You see, I don’t just leave messages, I always talk to somebody. And you should, too.
Remember to always have a specific reason for calling. Start with, “The reason I’m calling is…”
Also, keep it tight — people don’t have all day.
If you think you’re following up just because you sent an email, you couldn’t be further from the truth.
If you send an email and it goes to spam, nothing happened. Nobody heard anything, the communication wasn’t completed, and therefore there was no following up.
With this in mind, you can see why I’m not the biggest fan of email follow-up — at least when it’s used alone. The reason I follow up is so I can come out of doubt, and email doesn’t give me any certainty that I’m getting my message across.
Also, you need to understand that emails are forgotten very quickly.
Who texts you? Your friends do. People that are close to you.
Who emails you? Everybody.
That’s why whenever you use email to follow up, you need to embed a call to action and a phone number. That number should be your cell, not your office number.
Always bring them back to personal communication — text and calls.
You have to build your credibility, prove your commitment to your product or service, and ensure you remain at the forefront of the buyer’s perception. The best way to do this is by using all three primary types of sales follow-up methods.
Here’s How I Combined Text, Call, and Email for a Winning Sales Follow-Up Flow
A couple years back, in consulting with one company, my firm discovered that their industry in general struggled with the practice of following up with customers.
So, we looked at what their competitors would NOT do. We found that none of the competitors called back clients as they left the store.
This led the company to initiate programs in which clients would be called back as they drove out of the parking lot.
Managers then immediately started calling clients’ cell phones as they left the company’s premises and asked them to return.
If the call went to voicemail, the manager left a message requesting the client to, “Please come back immediately. I have something you must see right away.” To top it all off, they’d also send a quick email and text with a clear call to action and their number.
If there was no successful contact made, another manager repeated the callback program the same day — and again the next morning.
THE RESULTS WERE CRAZY.
Almost 50% of the clients returned immediately, and nearly 80% of those became buyers at that time. Another 20% returned as a result of the later calls and increased the sales of that organization to new levels.
Now, let’s take it back to you and your business. How could you get massive results and go above and beyond your prospects’ expectations?
Get Creative with Sales Follow-Up
Although texts, calls, and emails are your must-haves, you need to think outside the box to retain your lead’s attention.
If you’re not sure where to start with creative thinking, here are some ideas you can try to get the ball rolling.
“I Saw This and Thought of You”
If you’re reading an interesting article, blog, or social media post, share it with your potential customer. Text or email the link, or even tag them in a tweet.
Alternatively, if you go to an exhibition or trade show, collect data there. Follow people up with links, ideas, or cool products. You can phrase your message like, “I saw this car/painting/book and thought of you.”
For a great book, text them a picture of the cover and ask, “Do you like to read? If you do, I’d like to send this to you.”
Notice that you didn’t send the person the book — you took a photo and shared the idea. You didn’t invest in the book yet. If your prospect says, “Yes, I like books”, then you can send them a copy.
As simple as it sounds, it’s highly effective.
Send a Regular Newsletter
What do you do in a newsletter?
It’s not about selling your product, even though you can do a little bit of that. The purpose of a newsletter is to be first in your buyer’s mind.
That means you have to give data — to establish, justify, and bring credibility to your brand.
Stay in touch, remind people who you are, and give them information. Keep dripping and keep paying attention to them.
And to go beyond digital communication, there’s another way to reach out with a personal touch.
Drop a Handwritten Note
Think about the last time you received a letter from someone that was written by hand.
If it wasn’t a Christmas or birthday card, I can bet you can’t remember getting any handwritten notes recently. And that’s why it’s such a powerful idea to have in your sales follow-up toolkit.
To demonstrate just how committed you are to earning your client’s business, go the old school route.
Pull out a piece of paper, a pen, and an envelope. Write them a letter, or even a quick thank-you note for their time and consideration.
Although it probably won’t get them to close on the spot, they’ll surely remember that you went the extra mile to show them you care.
Want to get even more personal than that?
Shoot a Video Message
Right after your first interaction with the prospect, send them a selfie video. It’s similar to texting, but it takes you one step closer to building long-term trust with them.
Get over any camera shyness you might have and do it. Nobody will care what you look like or if you mix up your words. Pull your phone out, open the camera app, and record a casual message reaching back out.
Even if some time has passed since you last touched base with the client, do the video message anyway. It’ll help you warm up a cold contact in one of the most genuine ways possible.
Over time, as you use one or more of these creative methods on a lead, you can also add this phrase: “Obviously, John, you can see how hard I am working to get your business — and I’m going to continue to do so. Just think about how hard I will work to keep your business.”
Once you master the creativity part, it’s time to develop extensive methods to stay on top of your sales game.
Try These 3 Advanced Strategies to Improve Your Sales Follow-Up Skills
1. Get Past the Gatekeeper
No matter how many problems or challenges the gatekeeper creates, you have to love them and put yourself in their shoes. They were given a task to protect their boss from people getting to them.
It’s your job to impress them so you’re not left on the outside.
TREAT THE GATEKEEPER LIKE A MILLION BUCKS.
Most people treat the gatekeeper like they don’t exist, but the more the gatekeeper likes you, the better off you’ll be. Don’t forget that they have the keys to the deal.
So, send gifts. Tell them you appreciate them. Pour it on. The better you treat the gatekeeper, the greater your chances of getting past them and making the sale.
2. Do Five ‘No’ Calls — Then Flip
After you reach the decision-maker, start thinking about how you can first move them to a ‘no.’
“Hey, could you agree to move up this order date?”
They’ll probably respond something along the lines of, “What do you mean, I said I’m not doing this?”
You respond with, “I know, the reason I’m calling is I just want to see if there’s any possibility, any chance of you moving up the order date”.
They’ll say, “No”. Boom. You got no #1. You’re in communication.
Then, ask for the second ‘no’: “Would you agree to shorten your decision-making time, assuming I can handle all other issues that you’ve mentioned?”
Insist with a third ‘no’: “For your budget considerations of your next quarter, could we move up the schedule, if I could figure out how to delay the payment schedule?”
Keep going. Look for a fourth ‘no’: “Look, I really know how much your company is going to benefit from this product, this service, and that’s why I continue to persist with you. Can we do this? Can I get you to change your mind on this?”
Prepare for your fifth ‘no’: “You’ve told me how you can’t do this, let me ask you — how could you make it work?”
Now, the next call is where the flip is. Management makes a call for you to find out from this customer why they have not bought.
“My name’s Grant, I’m the manager, I have a request. First of all, I have two questions for you. Number one, do you have 25 seconds? Number two, I want to know why you have not bought our product yet?”
At that point, just listen. The manager should not try and close, although a close may present itself.
Repeat the process consistently.
3. Master Persistence
Becoming great at sales follow-up only happens after you commit to making investments in people. Persist over a long duration until the person you are taking interest in actually becomes touched by your genuine interest in them.
This will forever separate you from the rest of the field. Most salespeople neglect staying interested in their clientele and they pay the price when they finally get in front of the neglected customer.
Persistent contact — for example, 12 contacts over a six-month period of time — will make your next sale more possible and more profitable.
If you want to really max-out the income opportunities in your career, you must make sure that you stay interested in your customer, no matter the outcome.
Make investments in showing your interest in those prospects you don’t sell today. The ancient saying “you reap what you sow” suggests the same thing.
Stay in touch, keep plowing the field and planting seeds of, “I am interested in you.”
And Last But Not Least — Be Unreasonable
Look, you must have an unreasonable attitude with sales follow-up.
Most people don’t quite get what I mean when I say “unreasonable.” Unreasonable literally means without reason.
Follow “The 10X Rule“. Keep pushing with 10X actions because you believe in your product, in your company, and your service.
Be unreasonable even if your client doesn’t like you calling on a Thursday afternoon after you’ve already called them 10 times, texted four times, and sent two handwritten letters.
I get this all the time, “Grant, don’t call me again.” I say “OK, you got it, it won’t happen again.” But the next day I’m going to find a reason to follow them up.
You think this is crazy? It’s because you are reasonable. Someone sold you on not doing your job. And your job is to take care of your family, your business, and yourself.
Your commitment must be so unreasonable that you keep popping up with ideas on how to follow up even long after a client has said not to call again.
Do whatever it takes to become an all-star at sales follow-up. You’ll thank yourself later.