Follow-up is the cornerstone of a fruitful sales cycle in any B2B industry. It’s essential to building a base of loyal customers and helps sales professionals close new business and shorten the sales cycle.
Why are traditional sales follow-ups so ineffective?
There is no single reason why sales representatives often fail in their follow-up efforts. The majority of follow-up efforts fail because 44% of sales professionals give up after one follow-up attempt.
Disorganization is also a common barrier to success among sales reps who remember to follow up with clients. Here are three of the top reasons why sales follow-ups fail to produce desired results:
- The salesperson is disorganized
- Follow-up efforts lack a consultative or personal approach
- Prospect quality is poor
What are the keys to a powerful sales follow-up strategy?
While you cannot avoid running into low-quality prospects, you can customize and organize your sales follow-up efforts. Recognizing that sales follow-up does not occur in a vacuum is the first step in this journey.
Follow-up is an ongoing process that should begin immediately after you first encounter a prospect and continue after each sale is closed. Below are the top three keys to a powerful sales follow-up strategy.
Customize your CRM
Hopefully, you are not among the shrinking pool of sales agents who still save their contacts in a spreadsheet or e-mail list. If this is the case, it is time to transition to a CRM that you can tailor to suit your needs. Here are some of the key ways a CRM can help you optimize your follow up efforts:
- You can easily access your contacts from any location using your favorite mobile device
- You can prioritize your prospects based upon their purchasing timeframe and lead quality
- You can create a follow-up strategy that reflects your priorities
Prioritize your follow-ups according to time and specialty
Not all follow-up opportunities are equal in terms of quality or potential. In fact, many will not even lead to sales. The key to earning the business of your highest quality leads is to prioritize your follow-up activities. If you simply start at the top of a list of prospects and follow up with them in no particular order, you run the risk of losing the highest quality leads to a competitor who contacts them first. Here are some tips to help you prioritize your follow-ups:
- Use your CRM to filter your follow-ups according to the length of time with the prospect
- Always attempt to follow up within 48 hours of your initial conversation
- Filter your follow-ups according to customer type to optimize your conversations
Select the best mode of communication for your follow-up strategy
Before reaching out to your prospects, review your history with them to see which modes of outreach succeeded and failed.
One way to do this is to filter your prospect data according to how you have reached them in the past. For instance, if you are targeting a prospect that you have had difficulty reaching by email, try reaching him or her by telephone next time. However, if you know that a particular prospect has responded well to texts in the past, then it is wise to stick with that mode of communication as long as you continue to receive a response.
Sales Cycle Follow-up – The Bottom Line
A well-organized follow-up strategy is one of the most powerful tools in a sales executive’s arsenal. By following the three tips above, sales professionals can unlock the sales floodgates and improve their chances of securing a sale.