You are over the moon that your sales pitch was welcomed with great interest and admiration in the very first meeting. You’re proud of your prospecting and communication skills and now all you want to do is sit back and wait for the prospect to get back! It’s exactly the point where most sales executives go wrong!
As per the Brevet study, 80% of sales require an average of five follow-up calls after the meeting. However, 44% of sales executives give up after just one follow-up. Another study reveals that 92% of sales executives give up after the fourth call, but 80% of prospects say no four times before they say yes! Hence, it is indeed a terrible loss of potential revenue and customers when sales executives give up.
When prospects don’t respond even after the fourth follow-up, giving up is quite natural as no sales executive would like to sound pushy or annoying to his customers. But, it is possible that your prospects are interested in your product but they’re super busy to get back to you. As per Harvard Business Review, professionals have an average of over 200 emails in their inbox but only respond to 25% of them.
Instead of taking no response personally, sales executives need to be objective about it and find out how and when they can follow up without being pushy or annoying. Let’s explore some of the ways sales executives can do this to close more deals and drive more revenue.
Effective Sales Follow-up Techniques
● Ask the Prospect for the Best Way and Time to Follow Up
When a prospect doesn’t get back after a promising first meeting, sales executives often feel guilty about following up. To avoid this guilt feeling, it is best to ask a prospect in the very first meeting when and how they would like to be approached again for more details. This straightforward approach, recommended by Jon Barrows, a sales trainer for companies like LinkedIn, Salesforce, and Box helps you form a healthy and trusting relationship with your prospect. Your prospects would appreciate your understanding of the value of their time and they would be more than happy to share at what time and through which mode you can follow up.
● Conclude Each Meeting with At Least One Clearly Defined Next Step
Any sales meeting without a clearly defined next course of action is a waste of time. This clearly defined next step can be anything from a higher management meeting to a detailed product brief or a demo. For example, if a prospect asks for more time to review the proposal, agree to follow up with them a week or two later. While you don't want to be pushy about it, it is important to lock the exact time, day, and mode of communication to keep the momentum of a sales cycle. The easiest time to get a commitment to the next step is always at the end of the meeting. Ensure that you conclude each meeting with a solid commitment that requires both of you to communicate again and stay in touch until the deal is sealed successfully.
● Bring Value to Each Follow-up
A modern B2B buyer doesn't want to just buy a product, but he wants to buy an experience that makes a difference to his business model. It is important that in each follow-up you offer your prospects something so valuable that their interest in your product gets increased. This can be accomplished by studying the prospects closely, their aspirations, their accomplishments as well as their pain points. Value doesn't have to be about monetary benefits. It can be anything useful such as relevant content or information about a short-term discount or special offer. When you bring value to each follow-up that revolves around their pain points, you build a trusting relationship that often gets you better results.
● Decide When to Stop
Some marketers recommend endless follow-ups. But, that is an unhealthy and unproductive approach. You can decide on a baseline with the help of reliable statistics. For example, as we've earlier mentioned that 80% of prospects require five follow-ups on average, you can set up a baseline accordingly, taking into consideration the nature of your sales cycle. Sometimes, a no response means no. Sending one final email which is often called a break-up email before stopping can get you clarity on this. Also, irrespective of the number of follow-ups, when you get a clear "no" it is time to stop and move on to your next promising prospect.
When sales executives realize that follow-ups are not just tedious or dreadful chores but rather an intrinsic part of the sales cycle, they learn to approach them differently. And, when they do so, they are not only able to sell more but are also able to build confident, trusting, and long-lasting business relationships.