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Following up is essential for sales professionals. This is how great professionals meet or beat their sales targets and convert lead developments into purchases.
However, with no organized process, this phase can become tiresome and stressful for both the seller and the prospective buyer. It’s normal for vendors to hear “yes” and “no” from potential customers during the shopping journey. But the difference is in how these sellers react to negative responses.
Follow-ups are connections, i.e., mechanisms to ensure lead evolution throughout the shopping stages. Therefore, in order to improve sales, it’s important to understand this concept and learn the best way of implementing all of this into your daily routine.
To master the art of following up, let’s take a look at the complete steps to build a well-structured routine.
The importance and definition of follow-up
To follow up is defined as the monitoring of a lead or customer by a sales professional. This contact can be made via email, phone, LinkedIn or any other means of communication.
Although it’s an important phase for sales conversions, many professionals ignore it because they find it complicated, unnecessary or invasive. But studies reveal that permanent contact is what helps boost sales.
Data disclosed by the BDX blog confirm that 80% of sales are closed only after the fifth contact and that number could reach as high as 12 so that a sale can be made. Despite this display of the power behind lead monitoring, the study also showed that amazingly, 48% of vendors don’t follow up!
These numbers of five to twelve contacts might seem high, but when it comes to sales, especially in the B2B scenario, it’s normal for the average ticket to be higher, requiring several contacts before a definitive response.
Good vendors use this follow-up to show customers that their brand is truly interested in delivering a solution. With every new contact, sellers must make it clearer that they recognize the prospect’s problems and that the vendor can solve them.
Therefore, a structured and periodical follow-up is imperative. By ignoring this phase, you’ll have wasted all the work you and your marketing have performed. After all, if contacts put in the effort to find you to begin the process, at some point they really had an interest in your product.
The follow-up step by step process
In order to perform a good follow-up, it is necessary to create a structured process and follow a few important steps. Below you’ll find a few tips.
1. Plan the process
The first step for a successful follow-up is planning and structuring all actions. Only by planning will it be possible to effectively identify and follow up during each stage of the journey.
Get started by analyzing your contact routine and try to spot a pattern or average connected to every situation.
For example, if your product is a course on personal finances and on average a prospect takes 2 months to purchase it; you may try to reduce this time with a greater number of contacts throughout only 1 month.
At first, you’ll need to test different forms of communication, times and approaches. All the while, make sure you constantly document these processes.
Nowadays, you can get this documentation by means of spreadsheets or even by using customer relationship management systems.
2. Build a good cadence flow
Cadence flow refers to the various follow-ups with the same prospect, maintaining the relationship close and ensuring progress to the next phase.
Therefore, this flow needs to have periodicity and accurate content, so that each contact is decisive in closing a purchase. It’s worth emphasizing that each persona has its own decision profile. Thus, vendors need to know their audience extremely well so as not to become too invasive or too distant.
There are customers who like exclusive attention and are ready to listen to you. On the other hand, if the prospect is very busy phone contacts may become exhausting.
If the majority of contacts is made via email, a good idea is to create automation flows that automatically foster prospects. For example, in a first cadence-flow email, it’s important to remind prospects of the problems they have and how your brand can help them.
If the contact is made by phone, at the end of the conversation schedule a specific date for the next contact or a deadline for the final response.
Remember that the focus of the contact should be the prospect and not you. Therefore, don’t use the entire content of the email or phone call talking about your brand or product — if this happens, the prospect might lose interest completely.
3. Create an effective communications channel
In order to create an effective communications channel, it is necessary to know your audience well. Therefore, in this case, you need to know what the best communications channel is with your persona.
One way to find this out is by applying forms and performing tests. Thus, the effective channel will be the one in which the potential buyer engages, answers and listens to you.
Choosing the right communications channel is important because this is the way a connection is created and the prospect will begin to trust you. At the end of the contact, you can ask leads about their experience and if they would suggest any changes — it’s this transparent feedback that will help you create real bonds.
4. Use good mental triggers
Mental triggers are stimuli that help a person make decisions. Making a choice or a purchase sometimes requires a lot of effort. Before making a decision, the brain usually ponders several situations that may make a huge difference in the results.
Therefore, mental triggers are very important. They will assist the prospect to make a decision more easily and faster, ignoring various problems and closing in on a final decision.
For example, one trigger that is commonly used is scarcity and urgency. When considering a purchase, the brain attempts to balance the real need for the product, its price, how it can help with the problem, among a wide-range of other considerations.
When vendors activate the urgency and scarcity trigger, saying that the discount will only last for the next 24 hours or that the product is the last one available in stock, the brain understands that all other problems should be ignored. After all, this is the last opportunity to purchase this product with these conditions.
Therefore, a good vendor studies and is familiar with several mental triggers in order to use them at the right times.
5. Use content marketing strategies
The sales department is closely linked to the marketing department, because both work together in prospecting, nurturing and converting leads. Therefore, understanding the content marketing strategies can make all the difference for a vendor.
First of all, good vendors know how to add value to their products and that every contact between the professional and the lead must be unique.
With this in mind, never send generic emails requesting answers from the lead. Try to be as personal as possible, addressing the prospect by named, using a particular situation and giving details about their potential transaction. Doing so, users can feel responsible for replying to the email in order not to leave the seller without an answer.
In addition, during this phase, leads might still have questions about your brand or service. Thus, using materials, such as ebooks and blog posts, during the leads’ nurturing, may help you convert them faster.
6. Choose good follow-up times
Follow-ups may become inconvenient if vendors approach leads at a bad time. For example, no one likes receiving sales calls at 7am or 8pm. If the contact is made by phone, it is essential that business hours be respected.
There are no problems in the case of emails, because prospects choose the time in which they enter their inboxes and when to reply. However, we recommend that you send this type of content early in the morning. This is the time that leads are starting their work routine and are defining their goals for the day.
7. Use your success stories
There are cases in which prospects know their needs, understand how your product or service can help them, but still aren’t fully confident that your brand is the best option.
At this point, the best strategy is to show your brand’s success stories. With these anecdotes, you can provide more credibility to your service and show potential customers that the same problem they are experiencing has already been solved by your brand before.
In certain cases, talking about yourself can become pedantic, but it isn’t a problem when a customer does it.
8. Summarize the contacts and send them to the lead
The follow-up process is a ladder that needs to be built gradually through each contact. Therefore, if you make most of the contacts by phone, try to write down the main points to be addressed with the lead, and send them via email after the contact.
In addition to creating a document to be analyzed afterwards, the leads themselves can go over these points when they are getting ready to make a decision.
This habit will help you make more direct and accurate contacts, because nothing is more annoying than vendors making contact without knowing what the problem is.
9. Make contact at intervals
As we have shown earlier, creating a good follow-up routine is merely identifying and organizing the process. Thus, defining correct time intervals is also a decisive factor in order to close the deal.
For example, after the first contact, it is common for vendors to take their time before the next call. The lead usually isn’t the only person responsible for making decisions or still needs to get to know the benefits of the service better. After the second contact, the subsequent calls may occur more frequently, such as every 5 to 10 days.
Follow-ups changing the sales scenario
To wrap things up, effective follow-ups are no longer seen as annoying pestering. In fact, they are decisive allies in the life of a vendor. As long as the follow-ups are relevant and generate value for the prospect, it will be possible to qualify further leads and build loyalty even after the first purchase.
Did you enjoy our content? Would you like to read more about sales? Then check out this post about customers’ purchasing cycles sales and learn how to handle them when closing a deal.