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.

Why Everything You Know About CRM Is 100% Wrong

Everything You Know About CRM Is Wrong

Successful companies have always recognized the need for a CRM. They have a responsibility to their employees, vendors, and customers to keep information organized. But old CRM methods no longer make the cut.

Now, as people work anytime from anywhere, salespeople need customer information at their fingertips. They need data in one place that they can access or enter from a phone. Fancy spreadsheets and unique demographic pulls are no longer the priority any service can do that. What matters is accessibility.

The Problem

When business leaders decide to shop for CRM solutions, they usually delegate it to marketing or IT. Some plan to use that information from a marketing perspective to nurture prospects. Others send it to the IT department because it’s a technology solution. And IT technicians can figure out what will work with current software. What leaders don’t think about is the end user the salesperson.

What Typically Happens

CRM solution companies know who buys their solution and it’s not the individual sales rep. Therefore, most products appeal to marketers or IT technicians and disregard the ease (or difficulty) of entering the data.

After salespeople make calls and visits, taking notes and tracking appointments, they need about five hours each week to enter all that data. But they lack either productivity or time. Low performers often make up their data, completely skewing the CRM information, while top performers don’t have time to enter all their activity.

Instead, you need a CRM system that updates activities automatically. When a CRM depends on each sales rep spending hours each week correctly recalling their activities, your data won’t be reliable.

With old CRMs, you needed to remember to email your prospect. Then you’d craft the email, send it out, log into the CRM, and make a note of what you did. Now, CallProof reminds you to email your prospect, you send the message, and then it automatically copies your email to the contact record (along with any attachments). The activity is automatically updated, and you’re free to move to the next task.

CallProof also updates in real time. Why? So you can manage in real time. It’s not about micromanaging, but rather keeping your thumb on the pulse of activity so you know what’s going on. You can check in or follow up as needed.

The 3-Minute Sales CRM Test

How long does it take to enter data in your CRM? If it takes more than three minutes, that’s too long.

With CallProof, you can make any data entry in under three minutes. You can also find information you need for a visit, select the result of your appointment, or book a new meeting within that short time.

Your sales team (and people in general) procrastinate tasks that take too long. In fact, they often put tasks off so long, they never complete them. That’s why CallProof keeps the process quick and easy.

CallProof gives you a solution that stores functional, accessible, and accurate data in a central location. Because of that, our adaptation rate is stellar. It’s the easiest CRM for salespeople to use, which means companies get more reliable information and better results than from any other service.

Instead of thinking of CRM as a tool to generate reports, focus on how you’re going to get the information into the system. How can you take this burden of documentation from your day-to-day employees, and yet have data at your fingertips? CallProof is a solution that automatically does this for you.

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

prospect follow up emails

Any good salesperson knows they have to follow up to get a response. Only 2% of sales occur at the first meeting, and if you didn’t follow up with prospects persistently you’d never meet your sales goals. But when should you stop pursuing a client? How do you know if it’s time to move on?

Spoiler alert: it’s probably not.

Before You Call It Quits

Remember, buying decisions are event-based. Whether it’s pain points or circumstances, the conditions have to be right for a sale to take place. So before you move on, make one last contact.

You never know when circumstances will change for your prospect. Recently, I found out a company we used was not honest in delivering the services expected from them.  Now it’s time for a new company. I get calls or emails from similar providers once a week. A week ago, I told them I wasn’t interested in changing.  But now, after a mistake like this, I’m a viable prospect. All it takes is one mistake for a prospect to go from telling you to go away to being willing to meet.

People make purchases based on pain points that they have today or expect tomorrow. If they don’t have pain, they don’t care about your service. So look for a potential pain point. Are they paying too much for the same service? When you point that out, you cause discomfort. Can you offer them incentives to sign up or give them additional benefits? When you show all they could gain with your company, you highlight the problems with their current situation.

Also, everyone has a different industry. If you know people become prospects seasonally, insert calls or emails before that time comes. If you sell landscaping equipment to landscapers, you know the season starts in February. Have your sales team work overtime in January to build those relationships and get your products delivered when the prime time comes. Look at the calendar, and plan the year down to a micro-level based on your industry highs and lows.

Not All Follow-Ups Are Created Equal

When you have a qualified prospect (but can’t make the sale), you may just need a different approach to your follow-up.

Sometimes you need to hit pause on the pursuit. If someone tells you no and asks you to stop emailing, set a reminder to check their profile once a month. As soon as they leave the organization, resume contact with the person who takes their place.

For those that aren’t responsive to your sales efforts, touch base for a different reason. If you see a prospect in a news article or featured in a blog, email them and say congratulations. Just set a Google alert for their name so you don’t miss an opportunity.

Also, look for introductions that benefit your prospects. Is there someone you can introduce them to that would help their business? Later on, they may return the favor. You can even just tell them, “Happy Birthday!” The key is to stay in their realm of contact. Stay on their mind.

You don’t always need to push the sale, but any communication that provides them value works in your favor.

How Do I Track My Follow-Ups?

Keep track of when you talk to your prospects so you can stay in touch regularly. At CallProof, we track follow-ups by the last point of contact and we organize this oldest to newest. That way, you know that your next follow-up should be with the prospect that you talked to longest ago.

The software automatically takes emails, follow-up calls or face-to-face meetings, and puts them into the database, so you know the last time you communicated. It also keeps the actual recording or email. I recommend going back and listening to those previous calls before you make the follow-up call. Then, reference things from that last conversation to show the client you’ve been paying attention.

Is It Time to Stop Following Up?

The only real time to stop following up is when someone isn’t a qualified prospect. Maybe you realize they don’t have the money for your product or aren’t the right size for your service. If the company is too small for your service to apply or too big for you to provide for, it’s okay to call it quits.

When you have a good prospect, don’t give up. Instead, get creative and clue in. The more intentional and valuable you are to your prospects, the more likely you are the close the deal, now or later.

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Use These Sales Follow-Up Strategies to Replace “Just Checking In”

sales follow up strategies just checking in

You’ve just met with a prospective client. The meeting went well and you gave the guy a business card, but let’s be honest. That card probably went in his pocket and will eventually wind up in the sock drawer.

Now, you need a killer follow-up strategy. Thanks to the onslaught of social media, emails, and texts we’re faced with each day, your follow-up won’t naturally stand out. But a follow-up email is your virtual business card, and if done well, it can rise to the top of an inbox rather than fall to the bottom of a sock drawer.

No More “Just Checking In”

What’s wrong with saying “Just Checking In” in your follow-up email after a sales call? You’re not asking for a response when you “check in.” Instead, ask something crazy that demands attention and a reply.

Related: Which Sales Follow-Up Strategies Work Best for Your Prospects?

Imagine you’re a salesperson pitching payment processors. To make this tough sale, you may say, “In your wildest dreams, what would it take for you to make a decision to save 1% on your payment processing?” Or you could ask, “If a magical fairy came along and sprinkled pixie dust over our solutions, how would the solution change so that you would buy it?”

It doesn’t really matter what you say as long as it’s outlandish enough to grant their response. You want your prospect to think and respond.

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The Best Sales Follow-Up Strategies

You jump in your car after a sales pitch, but before you put your car in reverse, follow-up. You made promises in that meeting to get some prices or put together a quote. Do it right away.

Outline the discussion points of your meeting and make a list of the next steps you need to take. Then, generate a thank you email. Include a recap of your meeting and the next steps in your message. This tells the client that you’re paying attention and helps each of you know what to do next.

Related: The Pocket Follow-Up Formula: A Simple Trick for Improving Sales Lead Follow-Up Success

Sure, you can send the email right away, but it’s better to send it first thing the next morning. As a part of your rapport building, ask the client what time he or she comes to the office each day. (You’ll notice your high-performance leaders get there early.) Then, send your email at that time. You want the client to read it before they enter the chaos and drama of the regular workday. A software like YesWare will allow you to set the send time for your email regardless of when you write it.

It’s Been a While

If you haven’t heard from your client in a while, the wild statement approach could do the trick to get a response. Maybe you say, “I’d love to deliver my invoice to you with some doughnuts. How can we make that happen?” Determine your own quirky approach. Once you find something that fits you, you’ll catch their attention and get a reply.

 

 

Which Sales Follow-Up Strategies Work Best for Your Prospects?

sales follow up strategies

You’ve just had a great meeting with a prospect. There’s no doubt in your mind they’re going to buy your service. Then you follow up and… nothing. You assume the prospect is no longer interested and it’s time to move on.

Don’t let that common assumption about following up cause you to lose sales. Just because a prospect hasn’t returned your call or e-mail doesn’t mean they aren’t interested. There are many reasons why prospects don’t respond and many strategies for following up with them.

Don’t let the lack of response keep your from reaching out again. Consider these questions to determine which follow-up strategies work best for your prospects.

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Do they need a Dear John email?

Some companies send a “Dear John” email to unresponsive prospects. This type of email helps you determine if your prospects simply aren’t interested, or if there’s a different reason they’re not responding. Here’s an example:

John,

You looked at our solution a few months ago. I’ve been reaching out ever since we talked, and I feel like I have been pestering you. I wanted to send one last email to let you know that I’m here to help, and if you want to do business with me, please let me know.

If there is something you feel is an obstacle to doing business with me, I’d honestly love to hear it.

Do they perceive your solution as additional work?

People generally avoid extra work. If prospects have the impression that signing up for your solution means more work for them, they will procrastinate.

Let’s look at an example. If I sell payroll services to a business owner, he’ll realize he needs to compile all of his payroll and human resources information to make the switch. He perceives my service as added work for him, even if it saves him money.

I need to figure out a way alleviate the perception of additional work. If my payroll solution can save him $1,000 a month, then it’s worth the 8 hours he’ll spend compiling the information.

I might phrase my email this way:

Rich,

Many customers thought switching to my payroll service would be a lot of additional work. If you call the 3 referrals I provided, you will see that it only took them an hour or two of their time. They all saved money and are very happy with the solution. I really feel that you are going to get a similar return on your time. Can we get together next Tuesday at 2:00 to discuss it further?

What’s the best channel for follow-up?

I like using multiple channels in my sales follow-up strategies. For example, I might send an email telling a prospect I’ll be in the area to see another client at 2:00, and I’ll stop by after. I like this strategy because it requires the prospect to respond and take action.

Following up by text message is also great. I’ve said in my previous posts that 95% of all text messages are read in the first 5 minutes. With a text follow-up, you are going to be seen.

I also love following up face-to-face. I can’t tell you how many times a salesperson has walked out of a follow-up meeting with a check in his hand. It’s easy to ignore an e-mail, but much harder to ignore someone standing in front of you.

According to Yesware, “Follow-up emails are worth the effort. You have a 21% chance of getting a reply to your second email if the first goes unanswered.” Combining email with other channels like phone calls, face-to-face meetings, and text messages increases your odds of turning a procrastinator into a customer.