Improving your sales follow-up process is one of the simplest and most efficient ways to increase sales conversions.
Many small businesses and entrepreneurs often find themselves too busy running a business to follow up on sales proposals and leads. While some customers will be easy to convert, others may need more than one meeting, email or conversation to progress them from a ‘prospect’ to a ‘client’ in your sales pipeline. This constant follow-up process can be perceived as an unnecessary drain of time – but it shouldn’t be!
A study by Brevet revealed that 80% of sales require an average of five follow-ups. However, 44% of businesses only follow up once, and 94% follow up four times before giving up.
So, why do some people need so much convincing? The common misconception is they’re not interested. However, the more likely barrier echoes your own business challenges: they’re busy too. Decision makers have a lot of conflicting priorities and different demands for their time. According to Harvard Business Review, professionals have, on average, over 200 emails in their inbox at any time.
Many business owners and salespeople fear the follow-up stage of the sales process because they worry it annoys the prospect. Some people also don’t like to hear the word ‘NO’. However, this can be a gift, as a definitive answer means you can cross it off your list and divert energy to another prospect.
Here are five ways to improve your sales follow-up approach and increase your sales conversions.
1. Change your mindset
Following up on sales quotes and proposals is the simplest way to increase sales conversions. You’ve already put in all the hard work; it would be a shame to let all the potential go to waste because you didn’t send a few simple emails or made a telephone call.
Remember, you’re not following up with your prospect to spam them, annoy them, or pressure them into making a purchase. Instead, see this process as part of building a relationship, and you’re being persistent because you have a solution that can help fulfil a need.
2. Vary your approach
When people are busy, certain platforms (such as email) may become overloaded, and you may need to look at things differently to break through the noise.
If you’ve phoned a few times, perhaps follow up with an email or WhatsApp message. Alternatively, you can try ‘popping in’ on your way to another meeting or message your prospect on LinkedIn.
We’re not suggesting you bombard prospects. However, different people may respond better on alternative platforms. Varying your approach will help you understand which platform they are more likely to respond to you through.
3. Space it out
Decision-making processes can vary widely. Therefore, ensure you understand your client’s timescales and plan your follow-ups accordingly.
For example, on shorter timescales, when there is a looming deadline, it might be appropriate to follow up a couple of times within a week. However, following up frequently may be annoying if the process is longer.
Don’t be afraid to ask the prospect the best time to arrange a follow-up call, meeting or email. Once agreed, make sure it’s in your diary and follow through. Fulfilling these simple agreements will help demonstrate trust and reliability.
4. Provide value with each follow-up
The hard sell doesn’t work anymore. Instead, try and use each follow-up to build your relationship with your prospect. Even if they choose not to buy from you this time, keeping the relationship strong will increase the likelihood of them considering you in the future.
With each sales follow-up, try and add more value. You don’t need to continually focus on the sale; vary your approach and instead focus on building a relationship. Try:
- Asking them about certain aspects of their business (use your notes from your initial sales meeting)
- Send them a link to a relevant blog or news article
- Send relevant case studies
- Notify them of an upcoming sale
Remember that “value” does not have to be financial. You need to ensure that you are offering something useful to the prospect each time you speak.
5. Know when to stop
At a certain point, you will need to stop your sales follow-up process if you’re hitting a brick wall; continuing may seem pushy and aggressive. But, ultimately, unanswered contact can be a waste of resources. Know when it’s time to move on.
There is nothing to stop you from adding the contact into a ‘lapsed prospect’ list and occasionally updating them on relevant offers or services in the future. However, ensure enough time has lapsed before you reestablish contact. You can use your marketing intelligence to determine an appropriate time, for example, at the end of a typical contract length.
How ETC can help
If you need help creating a sales follow-up process and converting more sales, please get in touch.
If you are new to ETC, why not contact us for a free new business review? We’ll spend two hours with you, giving you professional coaching and will leave you with actions for immediate implementation.