Effectively nurturing prospects from lead to customer requires maintaining a steady flow of communication; sustaining constant momentum without tipping over into being perceived as annoying. A careful balancing act that once tipped in either direction can be difficult to recover.
The sales follow-up process for each prospect and situation can vary, but an experienced sales consultant should have a keen eye for recognising the signs and some well-practised techniques for ensuring they remain on top.
We’ve put together a list of 5 techniques for an effective sales follow-up process that we think no sales consultant should be without.
1. Avoid becoming annoying by continually adding value
If each communication you have with your lead is one which adds value, then your prospect will find it increasingly difficult to ignore or deem annoying. The most important aspect to becoming a successful sales consultant is to consult - offer insights, knowledge, content and even advice to your prospects. By keeping your follow-up processes packed with the latest news and information available within your field, you can position yourself as a resource they can’t – and shouldn’t – live without.
2. Take direction from your prospects
But what will your prospects consider valuable? Truly, only they will know.
Look to understand what goals and challenges your prospects are currently facing in their day-to-day roles and use this to identify what value you can add to your communications. This information will come direct from the source and in more ways than one:
- Listen to your prospects to gain insights into their day-to-day roles. As your prospect speaks about various different aspects of their role and their organisation as a whole, you can begin to build a much bigger picture and identify further opportunities.
- Ask your prospects what topics are of interest to them. There maybe things left unsaid, so take the opportunity to allow your prospect to introduce a topic area you might not have considered.
- Use your own knowledge; accurate and up to date buyer personas can prove invaluable in inferring knowledge about your prospects, giving you the opportunity to highlight something they may not yet have considered.
- Consult the lead history. When a lead is passed from marketing to sales, it is accompanied by a wealth of information. Marketing has the ability to capture information such as the website pages visited, blog posts read and content downloaded; by taking a moment to understand what information has already been captured, you will be in a much better position to offer value going forward.
3. Find the platform which works for them and your response rates will increase
Everyone has different preferences in terms of their preferred form of communication, and response rates can be so much higher when you can position your offer of value in a format that works.
Once the communication begins to flow, ask your prospect how they would prefer that you reached out to them going forward.
More often than not, email will be the response you receive. So don’t just leave it at that; find out if there are ways that you can ensure that your communications stand out from the crowd - maybe establish if there is a time of day which is a little quieter than others or if a particular subject line might be more eye catching.
By establishing basic expectations early on in your relationship, you can begin to build upon these understanding as you work towards creating an easy rapport of open communication.
4. End each conversation with a clearly defined next step
If you hang up a call without knowing what comes next, then it is also highly likely that your prospect is in the dark too, each with hazy expectations of who should make the next move.
It is much easier to get a commitment on a next step at the end of the call or meeting you just had, especially when it is a conversation that went well. Your prospect is also much less likely to refuse if you’re still in front of them so sending the next meeting invitation while your still in the board room makes things even more difficult to avoid.
When things are left undefined and up in the air it becomes much more difficult to regain that direction, and it can become a dangerous game of cat and mouse as you fight to re-engage with your lead. What’s more, you also leave the way open for your competition to swoop in, capitalising on the ground work you’ve just laid.
5. Ditch the phrases “touch base” and “checking in”
"Touching base" and "checking in" with your prospects have become a cliché calling card of sales professionals, one that yields poor results.
Your prospects will always be much more receptive if you have a purpose for contacting them. If you have no reason to speak to them, why should they speak to you?
Be aware of what’s happening with each of your prospects in their world - set up Google alters or monitor platforms such as LinkedIn to be notified when something is happening in their business that you might be able to make a connection to.
Ready to get started on your own?
We've consulted some our best performing sales team members and working with each of them we've created a collection of email templates designed to help you make each and every interaction with your prospects count.