Whether you’ve reached out once, or have built a relationship and sent a full on proposal to a prospect, the follow up is often where your sales efforts can falter. Too often business development/sales staff can either leave their follow up efforts too long to have an impact, or be too persistent to the point of annoying the potential client. The key is to strike the right balance in frequency, tone, and message when following up.
How often should you follow up with a prospect? This mainly depends on where you are in the sales process – as your follow up process will be quite different if you’ve just introduced yourself, versus if you’re waiting on a purchasing decision to come through.
If you’re at the early stages of contact and things go a bit cold, you don’t want to go too hard with your follow up. Your second contact, should be done in a way that looks casual, but that reminds the prospect of who you are and why you’re getting in touch.
A good tip for this is to connect via a different medium. If you’ve emailed the prospect and are waiting for a response, after a few days try connecting with them on LinkedIn and reaching out that way too with a simple message about connecting there, and a quick chaser/reminder on your previous email.
If you’ve already moved into the sales process and have sent a proposal for instance, chase every 3-5 days to find out the status of your proposal – there’s numerous things you can try to push action without demanding an answer, such as saying you need to plan in workload, you’ve got other jobs coming up, and you want to make sure that your prospect is prioritised so would like to get them booked in.
Don’t be too pushy, and don’t start calling them or emailing them everyday, but let them know you’re there and that you’re interested.
Getting the tone of your follow up’s right is vitally important. If you come across pushy, aggressive, or desperate, you’re going to put the prospect off.
It’s best to feel like you’re in a position of power, where you’ve positioned yourself in a way where you’re the expert and you don’t have a need for the work. In that way, you have the upper hand when it comes to follow ups.
However, that’s not always possible, and depends on the dynamic with the prospect.
You should always keep your tone breezy, casual, and fair. One good example of this is the ‘break up’ email. This is a common tactic for if you’re not getting responses to multiple contact attempts with a client. Once a threshold is hit, you can send a ‘break up’ email that says how you don’t want to keep bothering them, but here’s your details if they want to get in touch. It indicates the end of your attempts in a casual way, but often brings a response that may start the conversation up again.
As mentioned above, there are a number of message tactics to use such as the ‘break up’ email.
Getting the right message to your prospect is crucial. Too casual and you’ll appear overly-friendly. Too serious and you’re easy to ignore.
Each message needs to be tailored to their needs and the situation. Don’t rely solely on marketing automation for the follow up process for this reason.
Mention what you know they’re into to try to get conversation going – if they support a sports team who won last night, lead with that, before getting to business.
Be personable, relatable, and honest, and you’ll give yourself the best chance to get a response.