How important is it for your sales team to follow-up on leads? An obvious answer yet we experience a lot of businesses not deploying a proper follow-up strategy – one of the key stages of closing your pipeline.

It’s easy to focus on your new business activities and initial contact (all the more reason to divide your sales team into specific roles).

Your first meeting went well, pitch run smoothly and positive indicators that your prospect is looking to proceed. Sit back and relax?

This is the one fundamental difference between rockstar sales teams and sales teams that struggle to reach their quotas each month.

Why do people avoid follow-ups?

It’s inbuilt in our psyche to not want to piss people off.  Sales people fear losing a sale by frustrating the prospect to the extent of not signing up. They fear following up too much will have a negative impression as opposed to a positive.

Consider this. Continue following up on your prospect (whether it be by call or email) until you receive a response. Do so in a polite and courteous way that is not imposing on them. If this chasing continues past ten approaches and you do not receive a response, what is the disadvantage to continuing (in the correct way) continuing to chase until you qualify their interest?

Consider deploying this strategy of qualifying their decision vs stopping after one or two chases.

It is an obvious point yet one that needs to be labored. To be clear, do not stop following-up until you receive a response.

Note, there are some guidelines around this such as who and how you can apply this philosophy to your sales.

How do you follow-up in the correct way?

There’s no hard and fast rule around following-up. It’s a learning curve and when working your pipeline you’ll begin to understand how to optimize it.

A few key points:

  1. Identify your Lead Stages. The stage your lead is at will define the type of approach you take. For example, an initial inquiry may require a very different follow-up process to someone who had promised to put their card details in yet not done so yet!
  2. Create a follow-up strategy. Analyze what’s worked and what has not. Identify timings around following-up and method of communication eg. Day 1, Day 3 email, Day 5 call, etc. This is a guideline and something to trial and refine.
  3. Automate like a human. Where you can (and it has no impact on the sale conversion) automate your follow-up. It’s important to clearly distinguish between specific follow-ups that you can automate and those that require that human interaction. I’d suggest an 80%/20% human/automation rule. Save 20% of your time? I think so.
  4. Stay on top of managing the pipeline. Make sure you manage your follow-ups through a CRM!
  5. Carefully select your way to follow-up. This may be a bit more case-specific but following-up by call or email is an important decision. Too much hassling via answerphones and PA’s messages will be overwhelming to a prospect and may impact your sale. In some cases, an email may not be actionable enough when close to closing and therefore warrant a call. Again, build on historical success and understand what works and what does not.

Above all else. Maintain a professional and friendly manner. Respect their time (or lack of) and be sure to sell the value of the product.

Understand their business and how your product will deliver on this. You must remember that people do ‘not reply’ because they are disinterested but more because it is lower on their To Do list.

Respect this and act accordingly when selling. Simply put, applying these best practices will put you ahead in sales.