It is an unrealistic expectation that every sales call you make will go well and result in a positive attitude towards your proposed partnership, let alone a sale. Sometimes you catch people when they are busy, pre-occupied or simply just having a bad day. This is why the art of effective follow up is an essential skill that all sales people should posses, and a process that all should follow.
Persistence is also a key skill that you need to posses in sales, but it’s also vital that you know when to cut your losses and let some leads go. The ability to tell when a lead is going nowhere, and when to follow-up one more time is one that you learn over time. While some are not receptive to numerous follow-ups, other prospects will thank you for it especially when they have a lot on their plate during your early conversations and more time to speak and weigh up your proposal when you next make contact.
Taking the bull by the horns and being proactive by following up on a lead can make all the difference when it comes to making that all-important sale, so here are just a few reasons why you should always follow up on a sales lead:
Your prospect may have been busy
We know too well that when your to-do list is growing rather than shrinking, you have reports to write, staff to manage and leads to follow up; engaging in an uninvited sales call is the last thing you want to do - even if the service is relevant to a business pain point.
In this instance, a follow up email which summarises why you think a partnership with your business would benefit the prospect and their work is the perfect way to allow them to revisit your service or product at a time that suits them best. It is always a good idea to include in this email when you will call them again, so they can keep their diary free and allow you past the gate keeper as they will be expecting your call, or even include a calendar link so they can choose a time that works for them and book the follow up in.
Your prospect may have been having a bad day
We can all empathise with this one. It happens. No matter how much you love your job, not all days are great. Things can go wrong, your schedule can be thrown off by staff illness, you might have misinterpreted an email and made a mistake, or perhaps you simply had a rubbish night sleep the night before.
It might be that on the day you speak to your prospect, they are just not open to to new ideas. If you can sense this on your call, leave it 24 hours before sending your follow up. When you draft it, ensure your tone is light and friendly and suggest an alternative time for you to speak again, as well as your businesses USPs and the value it can add to their business so that you can pick things up on a brighter day.
Your prospect may have a change of heart or circumstance
If you are able to create a good rapport on the phone with your prospect, but your service or product is not right for them at the current time, your follow up is absolutely essential.
This is what your prospect will refer back to if and when their circumstances change. It needs to be brief, but thorough in detailing the way that they can benefit from your product or service. Furthermore, it is always worth scheduling in your own calendar, a second follow up to check in and keep your relationship at the forefront of the prospect’s mind.
Your prospect may not have had chance to process all of the information
Your sales pitch is second nature to you, but it is important to remember that your prospect (a lot of the time) is hearing it for the first time. There is often a lot of information to take in which can sometimes be overwhelming, especially if it is particularly technical.
Sending a strong follow up email provides you with the opportunity to solidify your pitch in your prospect’s mind and clarify the key points made during your initial contact.
An opportunity for them to ask questions they didn't think of before
When sales leads start asking questions about your service, it is an indication that they are genuinely interested in what you have to offer. This is a good sign!
In sending a summary follow up email, it gives your prospect the opportunity to absorb the information you have shared with them and to think of questions they may not have initially thought of during your phone call. In this instance, booking a second call is the perfect way to then provide the space for them to ask those questions and you can then share the information they need to make a firm decision.
You may have spoken to the wrong person
However frustrating it is, it sometimes cannot be helped that as a sales person you end up pitching to someone who is not the relevant decision maker. In this instance, a follow up email could in fact be the first communication you have with a business decision maker, and a crucial move.
This outreach will make them aware of your conversation with their colleague, so providing evidence of the rapport you have built with them as well as details of your USPs is a great move in building that relationship.
These six reasons highlight the importance of following up every lead or prospect you contact. It continues to build that relationship, provides them with a personalised reference point (opposed to the generalised information on your website for example) and keeps you and your product or service at the forefront of their minds.
Not only this, but when it comes to the number of touch-points necessary to guarantee prospecting success, there's plenty of evidence that suggests response rates rise with each outreach attempt. So don’t give up on that sales lead because the first call didn’t go well, or because they haven’t responded to your third email - keep following up if you have a good feeling about the lead and you’ll see that conversion rate start to climb.