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The Art of the Follow Up
It doesn’t matter if you’re a sales person, a marketer, or neither. All of us need to follow up, whether it is with a family member, a coworker, or friend. Following up is a critical part of the sales process. Not everyone is ready to buy, therefore perfecting your follow up skills is key.
I am not going to go on a rant about how you should be writing hand written thank you notes (even though I am still a fan), but I will tell you what I have learned about the follow up, both in my personal and professional life.
My phone is ringing, I look down to see an unknown number from a random city in a random state. Out of curiosity, I answer the call only to hear a salesman on the other end asking if this is a good time. When is it ever a good time? Well, the reason why this doesn’t work is because blindsiding a person with a follow up completely catches the person off guard, unprepared, and unwilling to engage with you. Consequently, they are off-put and have entered into the conversation on a negative note.
How to fix it:
Whether it is your first, second, or third call, always remember to schedule a time to speak in the future. That way the person on the other end is expecting to speak with you and will therefore be more open to speak. Also, it holds both parties accountable, which increases efficiency on both ends.
Make a cocktail
Yes, you read that correctly. But, no I am not referring to an alcoholic cocktail (unless of course you are following up in person for happy hour)! What I really mean is that you should be following up in a variety of ways including, email, phone, in person, or messages. You should ask how a person prefers to be contacted, as you want to accommodate each person more as it will improve responsiveness and hopefully engagement.
Don’t be a salesman
This is true…even if you are, in fact a salesman. When you follow up with someone, the conversation should be about them, not you, your product or service. Rather, this is a good time to learn how your lead is feeling, what they are thinking, and where they are in their decision process.
How to fix it:
When you’re following up, stop thinking about your end goal for a second (if that end goal is to convert a lead). Stop being a salesman and talk to the person as a human. By this I mean, ask them about them – be genuinely interested in what they have to say.
I asked the GreenRope Director of Sales, Bjorn, some key follow up best practices. “I like to be more personable and offer advice, tips see what they thought of other demos and ask if they need assistance with anything,” Bjorn says. “Then I guide the call based on their mood, and how warm they are. If I get buying signals I push towards that.”
Use a CRM as your second brain
This point piggybacks off my last. You should focus on building a long-term relationship rather than making a sale. The reality of today’s business is that it is centered on authenticity and relationships. However, remembering every person, their specific needs, and when to follow up is unrealistic. That is where your CRM comes in handy.
The CRM acts as your second brain, calendar, and note taker. Put every conversation, engagement, and follow up in the CRM so that you do not miss a beat with your lead. CRMs, like GreenRope, also have the ability to notify you when it is time to follow up with a lead so that you always stick to the schedule. This artilce on The Short Life of Online Sales Leads via the Harvard Business Review (hbr.org) further explains the importance of using CRM to schedule follow ups when your leads are hot, backed by a few large case studies.
So, now that you know how to tactfully follow up with your leads and clients, make sure to keep these tips in mind when actually doing it! So many of us fall back into the same habits, but if you make these efforts then I can assure you, you will see better attitudes toward not only you, but also your brand.
How are you currently following up with your leads? Are you only using one form of communication? Are you always thinking about the pitch? Or, are you being too passive? Some questions to think about before your next follow up!
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