Not every aspect of sales is fun.
Following-up is one of those things that every salesperson knows they need to do, like admin.
And like updating the CRM, most of us don’t find this very enjoyable.
Let’s stop and think why that is, for a moment.
Assume you met or had a call, or an online demo with a prospect. It went well.
No matter how you connected, whether they were inbound or you reached out first, this prospect has shown genuine interest in what you are selling. Brilliant!
During this fact finding call, you qualify them as a viable lead (sometimes known as a Sales Qualified Lead).
In turn, confirm they ticks all the boxes: some urgency, a budget exits, they need the solution. Win, win!
Now it should be a simply case of getting them to sign and starting to work together. If only!
Why should you keep following-up?
In sales, it rarely ever works that perfectly.
Even prospects that do have a need, a budget, and the authority to go ahead aren’t often in a position to say yes straight away.
For one reason or another — and if you’ve worked in any kind of sales/growth focused role for more than a few years, you’ve probably heard them all — they can’t go ahead yet, but they do want to proceed.
Prospects get busy. They have other priorities. Other projects already on the go.
Even large organizations can only commit to so much at once, even when they have the budget and resources.
Often, one of the challenges is people within the company finding the time to do what they need to make a new project a success internally.
As a result, this forces salespeople into a holding pattern of following-up.
Failure to do this means a sure thing can quickly slip off your radar. When it comes to implementation, a prospect might have been contacted by a competitor.
Through inaction, a guaranteed win can easily be lost.
For many salespeople, they know following-up is a necessity. The problem is, either they forget as new opportunities land, or they simply give up.
Putting repeated effort into something that generates no returns forces even the most persistent to give up.
So, let’s look at ways to keep following-up without getting tired of the chase: low-touch methods that every salesperson can implement.
7 Low-touch follow-up methods for easier wins
Before we look at the most effective ways to follow-up with a lead, have you ever considered some of the lazy or awful ways some salespeople try to stay in contact?
And at times, have you found yourself writing something similar without thinking, such as:
- “Sorry for bothering you.”
- “Just giving you a ping about this.”
- “Wanted to move this to the top of your inbox again.”
Sometimes, these become unintentional viral stars on LinkedIn and Twitter, like this one from earlier in the year: “just bubbling this one back to the top of your inbox.”
From passive aggressive to apologetic, language such as this is a consequence of wanting a response, sooner rather than later, especially when keeping a close eye on sales targets.
But falling into this trap puts us in a weaker position. Psychologically it puts the person using this sort of language in a weaker position, either while concluding the sale or later in the relationship.
To avoid weakening your position, try one of these tactics instead:
1 Opt-in automated marketing
This is something a marketing team should be able to setup, if you aren’t using this method already.
Ask a prospect if they want to be kept informed, and then ensure their email is uploaded into an automated campaign.
Sends them something useful and interesting once every few weeks or months.
For this to work, an automated campaign needs to be managed proactively.
Ideally, you need content to feed into this, with calls-to-action so that prospects know they can contact you anytime they’re ready to continue the conversation.
2 Send them a useful link
Seeing something a prospect might be interested in and sending it shows that you were paying attention.
It’s a low-touch way of keeping on their radar, without falling into one of those bad habits that are best avoided.
Drop them a line along these lines:
“We talked about [x], I saw this article and thought it might be of interest.” No pressure, no “call me back when you can”, just staying on the radar and showing you paid attention.
Everyone loves referrals!
You don’t need to be in BNI or similar business networking groups to benefit from someone referring a potential client, investor, supplier or mentor.
Use your network.
Be careful when doing this; any intro reflects on you, so don’t introduce someone to a prospect when they’ve caused nothing but stress.
But if you get this right, those who share connections and knowledge often gain more than those who keep everything to themselves.
4 Case studies
It is always useful to have a resource bank of case studies.
Again, this is something a marketing or sales enablement team should have ready for a sales department.
Send this in the same way as an article:
“We’ve recently published this on [X] — they were having a similar challenge as the one we spoke about, thought you might want to take a look.”
5 Look at other ways you can help
Intros’ are wonderful ways to help out a prospect while waiting for a decision.
If you can help in other ways too, e.g. keeping an eye on something you talked about, whether that means who’s getting funding in their space, or local government policies that impact businesses, then use this to your advantage during a casual follow-up email.
6Talk about something apart from work
Sales is all about building rapport.
If you can establish a good relationship with a prospect, especially if you’ve got interests outside of work in common, then use this in follow-ups.
Talking about hiking in the mountains or a sports game on the weekend keeps the connection human and friendly, and should warm them to you even more than a 15 page industry report.
7 Walk away
What if you aren’t having any luck?
No response is forthcoming. You’ve tried all of the above, in one format or another, and a prospect has been quiet or largely unresponsive for 3 to 6 months.
In that case, send them an email that indicates when you don’t hear from a prospect for this amount of time that it often means your solution isn’t for them.
If they get back to you, then it’s possible to re-establish contact. If you are met by more silence, or a polite not interested anymore , then now is the time to walk away.
In sales, you win some and you lose some.
Using one or more of the methods outlined above means you’ve kept going without weakening your relationship, while ensuring the contact methods have been low-touch, allowing you to focus on quicker wins at the same time.