Only 2% of all sales take place on the first contact. That means 98% of sales take an additional contact, which means we have to follow up. The bad thing here is nearly 50% of sales reps do not follow up.
The mistake sales professionals make is treating follow-up like an obligation versus treating it like a strategic part of the sales process. But once you take the mental shift and realize that follow-up is a strategy and not an obligation in the sales process, you’ll have a different approach.
Following up is the number one thing that separates your income from average income to top-tier income. So here are the five steps to ensure you’re following up effectively this year:
1. You have to follow up immediately. Act now, act today.
If you’re not following up immediately on inbound leads, you’re missing out on a major opportunity. Only 47% of sales professionals follow up within the first two days, and according to Forbes, the average company takes 47 hours to respond to an inbound lead. By taking two days to respond, you’re losing out on the chance to be the first vendor to respond and have a 78% better chance of closing the deal. The crazy thing about taking two days is that it’s almost always the first company to respond who has the highest likelihood of closing the business. So as a sales professional, avoid letting two days pass without following up.
To increase your chances of success, follow up immediately on any inbound leads. The quicker you act, the less likely you’ll have to go through a traditional follow-up cycle after you present your prospect. So if someone shoots you a DM, fills out a lead contact form, comes to you at a trade show, and drops their business card, follow up with that person immediately.
2. Implement the value ladder in traditional follow-up methods.
Salespeople often make the mistake of following up with their prospects without providing any additional value. This can be a turn-off and may lead to the prospect losing interest. The best way to follow up is by using the value ladder, which involves continuously providing valuable information that is relevant to your prospect’s business.
The value ladder says this every time I reach out to you, I’m going to give you some additional pieces of valuable information that is relevant to your business, to our discussion, to your industry, and relevant to the current time we’re in. You can deliver this information in various ways, such as helpful infographics, third-party stories, or social media posts.
3. Schedule your follow-up in the calendar.
If you don’t schedule the follow-up in your calendar, planner, or in your automation systems, it is not going to happen.
Scheduling follow-up is very easy if done immediately after meeting the prospect. So if I meet a prospect and we don’t negotiate a deal on the first attempt, I instantly go to my calendar and schedule all my follow-ups. If you already have a templated follow-up system, you can completely implement that right away.
It’s also important to stay relevant to current events, so always try to add new information before sending a follow-up email. Finally, remember that it will take an average of 7-10 interactions for your process to say yes – so don’t give up on following up after the fifth attempt!
Take that to the bank and put those systems in place.
4. The Accountability step: tell your prospect everything you’re going to do in advance.
Sales professionals need to be accountable in order to increase sales. This means following up with prospects after meeting with them and sending recap emails immediately afterward detailing what was discussed and agreed upon. Having an accountability system like this will help keep track of conversations and ensure that follow-ups are done effectively.
That business recap email can say, “Mr. Prospect, here are the problems you shared with me, here are the solutions that we’ve identified, and here’s our next scheduled time to speak. I look forward to working with you.”
If you share a recap of what your meeting is about, your prospect now has something to read to remind them of the conversation we just had. These recap emails will also help you hold the prospect accountable for what they said they were going to do.
5. Only follow up with somebody who genuinely intends to do business with you.
If someone genuinely has zero intention of ever doing business with you, they aren’t someone you want to spend a lot of time on. And sometimes we end up in the follow-up stage because people genuinely have a difficult time telling us no.
In order to get the right people to the follow-up funnel, follow these two steps:
Ask for permission to follow up at the end of the conversation. If they say yes, you have permission to ‘pester’ them with valuable information. If they say no, then you know they don’t want to hear from you. It literally recreates the conversation.
If you have proper pipeline management and your funnel is always full, the one that says no really is not going to hurt you. The only way it hurts you is when you dedicate tons of resources to somebody who never has the full intention of working with you. So ask for permission to follow up.
You can increase your sales and income by following up effectively this year. These five steps are tried-and-true methods that will help you stay on top of your follow-up game. Implement them into your daily routine and see the results for yourself. Which step was most helpful for you? How will you apply it to your business today?
Watch the video if you want further details on the topic with sample approaches! The 5 Sales Follow-Up Strategies to Increase Conversion Rates