Anatomy of the Perfect Sales Follow-Up Call

how_to_make_a_sales_follow_up_call

Benjamin Franklin once said, “Energy and persistence conquer all things.” Well, he may have exaggerated a little, but it sure does seem to apply to sales.

Sales relies on persistence. And often, that persistence relies on following up.

When you’re dealing with clients, you should always have a next step. No matter what. Follow-up calls can be the perfect way to close the loop and provide your next interaction with a prospect.

Contact Them… Then Contact Them Again

Sales is based on a series of touches. Sometimes you call prospects, and sometimes you need to make contact in another way. Before they buy, people need trust, timing, and money.

The faster and the more frequently you can interact with them, the faster you can identify those needs and build trust. Some interactions directly affect the sale. Others focus on building a relationship with the client.

Here’s how we get to know your future clients and move them through the buying process.

Ask, “When should I follow up next?”

Always pin down the next action step at the end of a sales meeting. Just ask them, “When should I follow up next?” so you know where the prospect is in the buying cycle. This closes the loop for the meeting and helps you plan your next steps accordingly.

Mail a Handwritten “Thank You” Note

Always drop a “thank you” note in the mail after your meeting. And, if you can, make sure it’s sent from their town. I write a note as soon as I leave a meeting and mail it right away.

Send Your Quote ASAP

If the call to action is to send a quote or proposal, send it soon. It’s helpful to tell your prospect exactly what to expect. I might say, “I’ll send you an email right now to make sure you have my contact information. I’ll get a quote together for you later today or early tomorrow.” Now, they have your information and know when to expect the proposal.

Follow Up Immediately After Sending the Quote

After you send your proposal, call your client ASAP. That way, you can make sure they received the quote before they can form an opinion on it. This conversation isn’t about finding out what they think about your quote, but rather confirming they have the information. I might say, “Hey, I just sent you the quote and wanted to make sure you received it…. Great! When should I follow up with you next?” They’ll tell you.

Call Back

Now, when you call for the next step, they’ve given you permission to contact them. Check and see where they are in the process since they’ve had some time to think about the quote.

As you take these steps, you build in touches along the way. From your first sales meeting, you’ve worked in three more interactions before discussing the quote. Some people say it takes 6 to 7 touches to close a deal. Obviously, that varies with different products and services, but consistent contact builds trust and moves prospects toward a sale.

If You Don’t Follow Up

Consistency takes discipline. As a salesperson, you need to follow a plan — not just for the sake of checking items off your to-do list, but because follow-through builds confidence and increases your likelihood of success.

People want excellent customer care. If you don’t follow up when you’re in the sale phase, you probably won’t respond to them in time once they’re a client. The sales process is like an interview. Prospects want vendors who stay organized, respond immediately, know what they’re doing, and know the next steps. And with good sales follow-up, you get to show them what it’ll be like to do business together. If you don’t follow up, they won’t want to work with you.

How to Make a Great Follow-Up Call

Before you reach for the phone, do your homework. Check your notes so you know what to say in a follow-up call. You’ll need to remind yourself when you last spoke and how you left the conversation. Here’s the basic outline for a great call.

1. Immediately say your name and your company.

2. Remind them when you spoke last and what you spoke about.

3. Quickly recap any of their concerns and provide solutions. This will remind them why they’re on the call.

4. Be persistent and polite, not obnoxious or pushy.

When to Follow Up

Generally speaking, you want sales follow-ups to be tight. Leads are like fish — the older they get, the more they stink. So keep leads fresh with a quick follow-up. If you’re selling to a really busy person, make their next steps easy so you can keep them in the sales process without taking up too much of their time.

Active and Latent Buyers

Also, consider what kind of buyer you have: are they active or latent? Active buyers are an active opportunity in the pipeline. You’re following up with them in 60 days or less, and they’re ready to buy a product.

But, if a prospect asks you to wait more than 60 days for your next follow-up, consider them a latent buyer. That means you’re nurturing them to become an active buyer in the future.

How a CRM Helps You Follow Up

A good CRM makes sure you don’t miss anything as you work to close the loop and set your next follow-up actions. Successful people in sales do two things:

1. They schedule a follow-up action every time they speak with someone.

2. They make notes about every interaction. Sometimes they even add notes that say, “Nothing to note.”

That’s why you need a CRM that plays well with the tools you use to keep track of your life. It needs to integrate with your calendars and to-do lists so no one falls through the cracks. You’ll also want a solution that files notes with each action step. That way, it’ll be even easier to access the information you need to make a great follow-up call. And, if the CRM is easy to use on the go, you can make your updates and action steps immediately — which is even better.

The Salesperson’s Guide to Using Texting for Sales Prospecting

salespersons guide to texting prospects

Did you know it took the US about seven years longer than Europe to catch onto texting? It gained momentum in Europe in 2001, and quickly became a popular alternative to calls.

But in the US, text messaging didn’t take off until 2008. With the growing popularity of the smartphone, namely the iPhone, texting skyrocketed.

Today, texting is the #1 used app on the smartphone worldwide. In fact, no one even thinks of it as an “app”. It’s not a bonus — it’s an essential.

But are salespeople taking full advantage of texting? Not even close.

In most sales scenarios, salespeople deal with the buyer’s discomfort. In any good sales process, the salesperson builds rapport, the buyer begins to like them, and they become friends. But maybe the price is too high, or the products don’t seem to fit their needs. Now the buyer feels uneasy because they don’t want to give their “friend” (the salesperson) bad news. For most people, telling someone you like that you don’t want to buy from them creates an uncomfortable conversation. So the prospect often avoids the conflict by avoiding the salesperson altogether.

In this scenario, salespeople end up in a cycle:

1. Build rapport with the customer.

2. Ask pre-qualifying questions.

3. Propose a solution via email or hand-delivered proposal.

4. Silence.

In the end, they’re left without a sale and without a reason why.

How Salespeople Can Use Text Messaging

The text message gives people a more comfortable way to communicate. Building a relationship with your clients via text opens a channel of communication where they can more quickly respond and more easily deliver objections.

The secret? Text from the beginning. Here’s how to build this communication channel from the start.

Begin the text conversation with an appointment reminder. Confirm the appointment and include the address so there’s no question where you’ll be at what time.

After your first meeting, text a follow-up message. Summarize the meeting and reaffirm any promises you made during your conversation.

Start the text relationship before you get into the groove of emailing. If you wait to text until you need a response to a proposal, that’s uncomfortable. They’re not used to you texting — it’s a “stranger” text. But if the relationship exists prior, texting can be your secret weapon.

Related: 3 Ways to Integrate Text Messaging Into Your Customer Service

The purpose of the texting relationship is to better move sales through the sales funnel. You’ve built the rapport, asked the sales questions, developed and proposed a solution, but you haven’t closed the sale. In many scenarios, this is where the sale falls flat. What comes between the proposal and the close? Negotiation.

If the customer isn’t talking to you, it’s likely an issue of product, price, or prior relationship. Texting makes it easier for them to communicate these objections. So ask for feedback via text. Be direct and be brief.

Your message may say, Mr. Jones, it was great meeting with you last week. I sent you the proposal on Friday, and I would love to get some feedback. How can we move forward?

Now you’ve opened the door for him to communicate his objections and to start negotiation if he’s still interested.

Short and sweet texts can be your golden goose for moving sales through the funnel. But they won’t work if you don’t play by the rules.

The Golden Rules of Texting

1. Save Emojis for Friends

Anyone talking to the opposite sex faces a challenge in texting. Save emojis (and selfies) for your friends. Texts can appear more friendly than you mean, so play it safe and steer clear of the pics.

2. Keep It Strictly Business

Don’t veer off topic or add flirtatious comments. If you receive a message that’s inappropriate, it’s best not to respond.

3. Keep It Short and Sweet

As you message your busy prospects, focus on the facts. Don’t use text messages as an opportunity to build rapport. You’re searching for facts, so get to the point. Texts don’t need the introductions you’d include in an email.

4. Be Aware of WHEN You Text

Consider the person you’re texting and their normal business hours. It’s best to message them after they’re up, but before they get into their work day. So for people with typical hours, text between 7 and 9 a.m. For someone with night hours (like a restaurant manager), texting around 3 p.m. may be better.

Regardless, avoid early-morning or late-night texts. Most people don’t turn off their notifications, so respect their time.

5. Avoid Abbreviations

You may know all the trending abbreviations, but your prospect may not. So don’t use them. People shouldn’t have to decipher your message, so avoid abbreviations altogether. Steer clear of even the most common acronyms (such as LOL or TTYL) to keep your message as clear as possible.

6. Add Product Pictures

Depending on your product, a picture may communicate better than words. If you’re selling cars or a hot, new product, send a picture. A glimpse of your product will be much more enticing than any description you’ll write.

7. Respond in a Timely Manner

95% of people read their texts within five minutes of receiving them. The average response time is just 90 seconds. So when you get a text, don’t over-think it. Respond quickly.

Ways to Use Texting With Text Templates

1. Follow-Ups

Whether you’re following up with a new potential client or a prospect that’s been in the funnel a while, text messaging can be a great way to stay on their radar. Use one of these templates to touch base:

First Follow-Up

“Hi John! This is Prat with Absolute Wireless. We talked about looking into Sprint for the best possible deals for your cell phone service. Please let us know your availability, and we will reach out to schedule an appointment to get you saving sooner!”

“Hi John! This is Prat with Absolute Wireless for Sprint. I’d like to work with you like we discussed earlier for the best possible cell phone plan to fit your needs. Please let us know your availability, and we will reach out to schedule an appointment to get you saving, sooner!”

Second Follow-Up

“Hello again! This is Prat with Absolute Wireless for Sprint. I am touching base regarding an appointment to help you switch over to save more. I’d be happy to send you home with a phone accessory without any obligation just for stopping by our store to explore your options. Thanks!”

“Hello again! I am touching base regarding your appointment with Absolute Wireless for Sprint to save you more on your service bill for your cell phone. Could I give you a quick call this week to follow up on your options?”

2. Automate Monthly Follow-Ups

To make following up even easier, use an app (or your phone’s built-in feature) to automate texts. So, if you’re thinking about work late at night or prepping when it’s not appropriate to text, write a batch of texts to send later. You can even schedule your messages months in advance.

Related: Follow-Up Emails: When Should You Stop Pursuing a Prospective Client?

3. Ask for Referrals

Texts offer a great way to ask for an introduction while your phone number is easy to access. LinkedIn messages often go unnoticed. So use the network to find connections, then send a text. When you see a connection between a client and prospect on LinkedIn, ask for the referral via text message. Then they’ll see your number and hopefully forward it to their contact.

“Hi John! I saw that you work with Sarah from Sprint on LinkedIn. Would you be willing to introduce me? I’d love to offer her the same great service we provide for you. Thanks!”

4. Send Happy Birthday Wishes

Use your social networks to find clients’ and prospects’ birthdays. Then send a message on their big day. So you don’t forget, set these up to send automatically. You can even offer an incentive as a birthday gift:

“Happy birthday from Team Absolute Wireless and Sprint! Best wishes on your special day. Respond to this text within 7 days to learn more about birthday incentives for our customers.”

5. Confirming Appointments

Like we mentioned earlier, text messages eliminate the questions of where and when before an appointment. Sending the address and the time assures the customer you’re ready to meet them.

“Hi John! This is Prat with Absolute Wireless and Sprint. It was great speaking with you recently. I am confirming our appointment on Tuesday at 2 p.m. Thanks!”

6. Recapping Meetings

Let the client know you were paying attention during your meeting. This shouldn’t be a long text, but it should summarize your discussion. If you made a promise, affirm it.

“Hi John. I am recapping our meeting from earlier today. Let me know when you have a moment to briefly chat.”

“Hi John! It was great meeting you this afternoon. I’ll talk to my design team this week to see the cost to add this to the proposal. Look forward to working with you.”

7. After Meeting People

Texting can be a great way to connect with someone new. If I meet someone I could do business with (but don’t have a card with me), I can ask for their number and text them right away with my contact info.

But even if we do exchange cards, it’s still a great idea to text after we meet. Business cards are easy to misplace, while messages are easy to find. I may not need a particular service when we meet, but then something happens weeks later. Now I’m in the market for your service. Rather than searching for the business card, I’ll just look through my messages to find your information.

Consider texting as your virtual handshake. You meet someone, shake their hand, exchange contact info, and send them a message like this:

“Hi John! It was great to meet you. Earlier this week, we talked about saving you money on your cell phone service with Absolute Wireless for Sprint. As a service rep, I’m able to work out the best deal for your plan. What time would you like to schedule a quick phone call to follow up and start saving?”

“It was great to meet you recently, John! We talked about looking into cell phone service with Sprint for savings on your monthly bill. As a service rep, I’m able to work out the best deal for you. What time this week can we briefly chat to explore your options?”

8. When They Haven’t Responded to Your Proposal

The most irreplaceable benefit of text messaging in sales is the ease of communication objections. So, when you haven’t heard back about a proposal after you’ve cultivated the relationship and messaged for the seven reasons above, reach out via text. Say something like:

“Hello again. I am checking on the status of the proposal I sent you earlier this week. Please let me know what you think. Thank you!”

Texting shouldn’t only be the most used app with friends, it should also be the most used app in sales. Take full advantage of this essential tool to communicate with your clients as effectively as possible.