As strange as it may seem, many sales professionals are actually afraid of making follow-up calls to prospects because they are concerned about being perceived as pushy. However, as noted by many leading certified sales coaches, this can prove to be a critical error as effective follow-up habits markedly increase the probability of making a sale.
In truth, few people are going to buy from you or your company immediately after that first introduction. Even though your first emails and meetings are important (after all, you never get a second chance to make a first impression), reaching out to your prospects again after they’ve had a chance to think everything over is equally important.
Why is follow-up so important?
In 80 percent of sales, according to top online sales trainers, sales professionals conduct at least five follow-ups to close a deal. That being the case, salespeople with well-structured follow-up plans have a significant edge on their competition who tend to give up after just one call or email.
Simply put, you are far more likely to secure a sale if you reach out to your customers more than once to see where are you with the deal and what can you do to close it. Also, conducting follow-ups helps build truting relationships with your prospects thereby increasing the likelihood that they will become loyal customers.
It is important to note that even after you close the sale, you or your team should carry out regular follow-ups to strengthen your connection and continuing building trust with your clients.
How to follow-up effectively?
Top online sales coaches swear by the following five tips when it comes to creating an effective follow-up strategy:
1) Provide added value
Don’t just follow-up just for the sake of following up. It is important you provide your customers with something of value every time you reach out. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time you follow-up with a new prospect as your nuggets of added value will often work on multiple prospects. Just try to remember some small details about each client so you can personalize your subsequent conversations. Asking questions about their business or offering them a coupon or a discount is another great way to personalize these calls.
2) Establish a clear path
Always end your call by telling your prospects what they can expect from you going forwards. Even if all you do is set a date and a time for your next call or visit, it is important to set a clear plan for what happens next before you let them go. If you have To Do items for them, keep them simple and only give them one clearly defined request at a time. Never assume they will already know what is expected.
3) Use a vareity communication channels
If your prospect is not answering your phone calls, try reaching them by email (and vice versa). These days, many people will not answer a voice call until they’ve received a brief text outlining what the call is about. Giving your prospects a varity of ways to respond to you in their own time is widely considered a best practice.
4) Stay in regular contact (but know when to stop)
There’s no rule that says you can’t simply ask your clients and prospects how often they want to hear from you. In fact, asking this question lets them know you value their time and are sensitive to their needs. It is also a subtle way of demonstrating that you are not arrogant or pushy. There are also no clear rules about when you should stop follow-up communications but most certified sales coaches suggest calling it quits after the sixth or seventh try.
5) Set a follow-up timeframe
Certified digital sales coaches agree there is no right answer when it comes to how soon you should call a prospect again after that first conversation. Certainly, you don’t want to seem too eager by calling the next day but you also don’t want to appear uninterested by letting it slide for a month. Carefully space out your follow-ups to avoid coming across as over-eager or pushy but try to remember that people will need some time to digest all the information you gave them the last time you spoke.
Conclusion: There’s no reason to be afraid of making follow-up calls as long as you have a plan and a schedule in place. Be organized and know that you are providing something of value to your and these critical calls might actually turn out to be something you start looking forward to (especially when you see the impact they have on your commissions!).
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Natasa Tomic is a journalist and content producer who specializes in writing about business and sales.