You’re losing deals that you are already 80% of the way to closing because you’re not doing follow-ups right.
How do you know? Well, are too many of your deals going dark on you? Do you get a lot of new prospects but you lose traction after the first meeting? Are you wondering how to effectively follow up and maintain momentum while not being annoying?
Well, you’re not alone. Thousands of salespeople say that following up and managing their deals through the sales cycle are the most challenging parts of the sales process.
Alright, it’s time for the field sales stat of the week: 80% of deals require 5 follow-ups or more. Think about that: On average, it takes at least 5 follow-up efforts after the initial sales contact before a customer says yes.
This is hard because salespeople are often socially well attuned, and being annoying is against their nature. As a result, a lot of salespeople end up giving up too soon and don’t follow up enough. After all, their instincts are telling them not to.
But an extra call often makes the difference between winning and losing a deal—and winning or losing a deal is often the difference between crushing your quota or having your quota crush you.
In this guide, you’re going to learn the secrets to mastering sales call follow-ups so you’ll stop losing those deals you were already 80% of the way to winning.
The key skills that we’re going to cover today are:
When to follow up
How to follow up
Follow-up tips and tricks
When to Walk Away
Part 1: When to follow up
When is the best time to follow up? Right after the meeting. As soon as you leave the room, the prospect’s emotions and interest in your products are sky-high. But, with each passing day, emotions go down and your number one enemy comes into play: procrastination.
Deals are often not lost to a competitor, but to the status quo. If you procrastinate, your prospect will feel like your product is not that urgent. It can wait, and that’s when deals go sideways.
So how do we follow up? Send a thank you email right after the meeting:
First you say thank you for your time. This refreshes their memory about when you met and who you were.
Then you mention key takeaways from the conversation. This shows that you were listening.
Most importantly, the key piece is to address your next steps and their next steps. This is your task, and this keeps the ball moving. In sales, this is the classic give to get.
Here’s a sample thank you email that you can use. It’s a template that I use at my company, Badger Maps:
Thank you for your time this afternoon. (Thank them for their time—Refreshes their memory that you met)
It was great to get a better understanding of your goals on this project - The key to success here is to get the sales reps in the field to get 2 more meetings a day. (Your key takeaways from your conversation—Shows you were listening)
I will build out the analysis that we discussed, where we talk about how much time your reps will save on a weekly basis from having better routes, then we can determine how many more meetings your reps will get. (Address your next steps, “I will do this”)
You mentioned that you can send me the mileage reports from the sales team from the last month so that I can build the analysis, just let me know when I can expect that so that I can reserve time with one of our consultants. (Address their next steps, “you will do this.” Give them a reason for why you need them to follow a certain timeline)
Have a great week!
Now I’m going to give you one of the best kept secrets—something to say during your next sales meeting, that will help you get a response out of your prospect, and keep them engaged throughout the sales cycle.
During the meeting, I like to say something like: “Mr. Prospect, what is the best way for us to keep in touch? I’m guessing you get 200-300 emails a day like I do. Is email the best way to contact you? Is there something I can put in the subject line that will help my emails stand out?”
By asking permission to follow up, you lower your odds of being an annoyance. But most importantly, you hear right from the horse’s mouth what the most effective way to reach them is.
This gets many steps ahead on your follow-up. You’re not just focusing on how to conclude a meeting when you’re on your sales call, you’re also paving the way to future follow-ups that you’re going to have with this prospect.
Just ask your prospect what works best for them and the will usually just tell you. This gets back to a piece of wisdom that salespeople should always keep in mind: “Ask and you shall receive.”
Part 2: Ways to follow up
There are a ton of ways to follow up after a sales meeting. To maximize your chances of closing a sale, you have to mix up the ways you’re interacting with your customer and have a multi-step follow-up sequence. It may involve email, phone, text, voice, invitations to webinars, conferences, etc.
The intention is to stay top of mind with your prospects.
Don’t forget: Your prospect is just one person. They can only do a few things at a time, and only top priorities get done in this busy world.
Let’s say that you’ve called to follow up with your prospect and they’ve missed your call. How do you leave a voice message that will actually get returned?
First, you have to provide your key information: your name, your phone number, etc.
Then, and here is the key, say something that is intriguing so that they want to call you back.
Here is an example of how I’d leave a phone message:
“Hi John! It’s Steve with Badger Maps. Thanks again for having me in last Thursday. I’m calling because I did the analysis on how many fewer miles your field sales reps would drive a week and how many more meetings they would get with that saved time.
I’d like your input for the next step of the model on how the conversion rates will work and so that we can get the ROI numbers for you. You can get me on my cell at 555-555-1234, that’s 555-555-1234.”
Do you see what I did there? First, I thanked him. Then, I said why I was calling. It was because I was doing an analysis that’s of interest to him. There’s a reason for him to call me back. It’s much more powerful than saying: “Hi John! It’s Steve with Badger Maps. Please, give me a call back. Thanks, bye!
Whenever you tell people to do something, they always ask “why” and “what’s in it for me?” This is a key concept in sales, which certainly applies to follow-ups, called “give to get.”
With the first message, you made calling back a priority that will get done, and with the second message, you didn’t.
Also, I left the phone number twice. That’s because it makes it easier for them to write down if they’ve heard it twice. You want to make it as easy as possible for them to call you back, just in case.
Part 3: Follow-up tips and tricks
When you’re following up, there are a few tricks that you can use:
First, if every email from you is a request, your prospect is going to cringe at the sight of your messages and avoid them like the plague. You want them to associate your emails and your phone calls with something valuable. So share industry news and interesting articles that might be helpful to them. If you’re giving them things, they feel that they owe you a favor and they’re willing to respond to you.
These last two are my favorite follow-up tricks that always help me move the deal downfield:
The first one is to personally connect with your prospects. During the meeting, you probably found out about things that you have in common and you can keep building on. Maybe you asked about the photos of their kids they had on their desk, or a picture of them skydiving.
Regardless of what the thing was, you can mention it to help you connect to them. Hopefully, in the meeting you’re able to find something that you can connect over and that you have in common.
The second thing is to reinforce your value—it's repetition. It's a proven fact that people have to hear something more than once before it sinks in. You know your product and why it's valuable, but your customers might not get it the first time they hear your message. Don't make the mistake of thinking that, if a prospect heard a pitch once, they understand it. Chances are they didn't. Tell them again, and again, and again!
Things to avoid:
So, what are some of the things that we should avoid when following up?
It's important to avoid saying that you're "just checking in" or that you "just wanted to follow up." It comes across as really annoying and doesn't position you as a person bringing value to the table.
Don't trick your prospect into clicking on an email. Nobody likes to be fooled.
Don't apologize for you emails. Don't say, "Oh I'm sorry that I'm emailing you right now.”
Don't say "Hope you're well!" because it's cheesy.
Don't reference past failed attempts at getting ahold of the person in the past. Missed calls or emails are just a part of the territory.
Don't use a weak CTA like "I'd love to hear your thoughts."
Don't try to re-explain all the features that you've already talked about. Avoid dumping information in a message.
Avoid industry jargon, you want your communication with your prospect to be as clear as possible.
Best times to follow up:
So now let's talk about the ideal day and time to follow up with your prospect. This is a key principal: People buy when they are ready to buy, not when you are ready to sell to them!
Not all days of the week or times in the day are created equal. Based on prior experience, try to target the best times to follow up with each of your customers. Then follow up when you have the highest odds of getting a response.
Based on research done at MIT, the best days to connect are Wednesdays and Thursdays for both emails and calls. The worst day is Monday (obviously, everybody hates Mondays). And the best time is between 2-4 pm because people have just eaten lunch, so they are in a good mood. They’ll be more receptive after they've eaten lunch (everybody likes lunch).
During commute times can be a good time for some people depending on their preferences and how they commute. Maybe they like to catch up on emails when they're on the train, maybe they like to take calls when they're in the car.
The key is paying attention to what works for a given prospect, and just doing that thing. I once had a customer that I figured out I could always catch her at like 5:15 in the evening on a Friday, because that was the only time she was free. I've had other customers that would have been 3 drinks deep at the bar by then, but she was available.
Part 4: When to walk away
Next I'd like to talk about when you should walk away. At what point do you just stop following up? You know you have to sometimes. Your time is valuable and you have to taper off the investment in a prospect at some point.
But as you consider walking away, keep in mind that 80% of deals take more than 5 attempts to close and 44% of sales reps stop after the first follow-up. Don't make the common mistake of stopping your follow-ups too soon.
What you should do is what I call the "5 attempts follow-up strategy.” 5 is not a rule—some deals will close after 2 attempts and others will need 12—but follow your instincts and use your own judgement.
You need to understand if your prospect is saying "no" or "not now" or "not yet." If they're saying "not yet," it's fair to ask: “When would be a good time for my next follow-up?"
They'll be honest with you because they don't want to waste their time or yours. If your prospect finally indicates that they aren’t interested in progressing in the sales cycle, you’ll know to stop following up. Seal the deal with a breakup email like this:
Are you open to discussing using Badger Maps for your team? Let me know if I should stop following up. I’ll be happy to reconnect in the future at a better time.
All the best, Steve
And that's it guys!
Start improving your follow-ups and start closing more deals. Another way you can close more deals is by signing up for a free trial of Badger Maps.