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The Importance of Follow-Up

Image of Michelle Farnsworth
Michelle Farnsworth

 

Let’s begin with a simple, yet profound, question. How much time and effort, if any, do you put into following up with leads when they come in?

Why Ask?

This is simply a rhetorical question, intended to get you thinking about your current follow-up practices. While such continuous contact is an indispensable part of the sales process, it is often a component that many people fail to devote much, if any, thought or time to.

Research shows that a meager 2% of sales occur on that first contact between a sales professional and a lead. Even then, the small percentage of those who are actually closing on a deal do so only because the leads themselves have previously looked into the subject matter, and know exactly what it is they are looking for. Basically, all the agent had to do was show up.

Numerous studies have found that it takes at least five ongoing follow-up efforts, after the initial sales contact, before a customer will say yes. FIVE! Nearly 80% (yes, 80!) of all sales are made on the fifth through the twelfth contact!

Take a look at these statistics:

    • 44% of sales personnel give up after one “no”
    • 22% give up after 2 “no’s”
    • 14% give up after three “no’s”
    • 12% give up after four “no’s”

Thus, 92% of salespeople give up after hearing ‘no,’ ‘not yet,’ or ‘not now,’ up to four times. Which means:

8% of sales personnel are making 80% of the sales!

Does it make you wish you had been engaging in an ongoing dialogue with your leads with a bit more gusto? I know it does for me. Persistence, my friend, truly is the secret to being in the top 10%!

Go Further wooden sign with a paradise on background

7 Foolproof Follow-Up Tactics

So, how do you maintain appropriate and timely follow-up? The following 7 items are strategies that will help you move follow-up from the back burner to the forefront of your priorities list!

1. Create a Follow-Up Timetable

Clearly, follow-up doesn’t just happen when it is left to chance. Establish a schedule that maps out when calls and emails should be happening. Leads will no longer slip right through your fingers.

In the beginning, you will only need two types of contact schedules:

  • Active Leads: These leads are responsive and ready to buy in the short term.
  • Passive Leads: These are qualified leads that are on a long-term buying timetable.

Such schedules are often mapped out up to one year. Although, frequency and intent of communications should adjust with time-based on the level of interest shown and current needs of the prospect. 

2. Vary Methods of Follow-Up

The goal here is to contact prospects in several different ways in order to avoid getting lost in the competition shuffle and to stay at the forefront of the prospect’s mind. Reach out using snail mail, emails, phone calls, texts, tweets, Facebook and LinkedIn posts, or any other acceptable social contact method.

3. Timing is Everything 

We all have certain days of the week, and even times of the day, that are busier than others. These are the times you want to avoid when trying to make a connection with your prospect because chances are whatever is being said will go completely unnoticed, and not intentionally.

chart1

Both, Wednesday and Thursday appear to have the best email open rates and phone contact rates. In fact, research shows that Thursday is 26% better for email open rates than the worst email weekday, which is Monday. Thursday is also 49% better for phone contact rates than Tuesday, phone contacts worst day.

chart2

The bottom line is, by timing your method of contact within the perimeters of these sweet spots in communication, you will have more success making contact or receiving a response from a prospect. While this will be helpful in some situations, research is finding that customers who are contacted within five minutes of submitting showing interest, no matter the time of day, is a better determinant of converting into a sale. Giving attention quickly shows the value you place on their time and highlights your great customer service.  

4. Design Email Templates

Beginning with your most common and repetitive emails, design templates that will offer you support in the follow-up process. Keep in mind these are not meant to replace your workload, but to assist you with it. It is still crucial that you go in and personalize the message so that it does not come across as candid.

By doing this, you will decrease the amount of creative effort needed throughout each step of the follow-up process, leaving you no excuse not to contact your prospect in a timely manner. Increased email quality and consistency with less effort, what could be better?

5. Get Permission to Continue Your Follow-Up

I hope it is obvious that if someone really wants you to stop contacting them in any way, you should stop – immediately. But, often times it is not always so clear if continuing contact is necessarily desired from the prospects end.

That is where getting permission to continue comes in.

By asking for their approval to continue following-up, you decrease your chances of becoming a nuisance and losing any rapport you had built up to that point. For example, you could say, “Do you mind if I check back with you in 2 months to see how things are going?” or “Would it be alright if I sent you an email with more information in a week or so?”

Despite how motivated a prospect may appear, ending each conversation by asking permission to continue will create an atmosphere of mutual respect and consideration. If the answer is no, at least you have a clear understanding of where you stand with them. If the answer is yes, following-up will be a more pleasant experience knowing it is wanted on the other end.

6. It’s Important to Use Meaningful Content

I’ve already mentioned the importance of varying your methods of contact, but it is also important to vary your message content in order to create more meaningful interactions. Why? Because no matter how many ways you ask, “Are you ready to buy?” you can only ask it a number of times before it will totally irritate your prospect, something that is especially true if they also have several other companies doing the same thing. The truth of the matter is, people buy when they are ready to buy, not necessarily when you are ready to sell.

So, what do you do?

Send them a variety of useful content that will not only help you maintain contact but will also add value to their life or business. Although good content takes a great deal of time on your side of things, it is something that will pay off in the end. Such interactions will let them know you have been thinking about their business and it will remind them how you can help them succeed.

When a consumer is ready to spend money, most often they will select the company that is on the forefront of their mind – meaning the one who has stayed in contact the most recently, frequently, or meaningfully.

7. Track Email Opens and Click Rates

By knowing if, or when, an email has been opened and the click-through rates it has generated, you gain a huge level of additional insight into what prospects are particularly interested in.

Some possible reasons you may be having low open rates are because your subject line may not be relevant or interesting enough to your prospect or you are sending too many or too few emails, resulting in your email being skipped over. Finding a balance is crucial!

Improving click-through rates goes hand in hand with creating meaningful content. The more useful and intriguing the content is, the more likely it is that your prospect will read on. It is also helpful to avoid using generic phrases such as “click here” because it leaves the reader unclear where the link will take them. In order to get them there, they need to know where it is you are wanting to take them. You may also have more success with click-throughs if you include multiple links to the same content in a single email, giving the reader several opportunities to click.

Young businessman wondering with sketched strong and muscled arms

Stay Strong 

In the business world, it is unrealistic for agents to expect to close important deals during a single conversation. Humans have to hear the same thing multiple times before it truly sinks in, something that is no different in the business realm. There has been a long-held and restricting belief that following up with a lead is not worth the time spent doing so. As you have seen from the statistics, this notion is completely FALSE! Be persistent in your lead follow-up. There are deals to be made for those who persevere!

Would you and your team benefit from implementing these strategies? Or, do you have your own effective tactics you use to seal the deal? Share this post or highlight those words of wisdom by commenting below! 


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