October 13

The “Art” Of Follow-Up


Follow-Up4 Sales Strategies To Know When It Is Time To Give Up

Follow-up is at the core of my job. As a sales speaker, one of the questions I get asked most often is “how do I know when to give up?” Give up on a prospect that is. People really want to know when a prospect is not going to turn into a customer.  While it is one of the questions I am asked most often, it is also one of the most difficult to answer. I mean really, how do we know when it comes to sales and relationship-building when to give up? How do we know or how can we predict that our customer is really not interested?

Well let me make this simple, you don’t.  Follow-up is far more art than science. You can never be sure of when to give up. But there are some strategies you can use to ensure you use your time effectively. If you want to understand tune into which customers are interested and which ones are not, you need to understand the “art” of follow-up.  First, you need to understand customers and how they make decisions.

On average, it takes at least eight to ten touches before prospects even begin to being interested in what you are selling. Second, the average number of times we, as sales people, follow-up with customers before giving up is two. Okay maybe three, if we are pushing it. So that leaves a gap of six or so “follow-ups” that customers need from us before they are even ready to make the decision to buy. These are contacts they need that we are not providing.

So if customers need six to eight, why are we providing less than three? There are two reasons why I believe that we, as sales people, do not follow-up more. The first is we worry that if we keep following-up, we are going to be annoying to our prospect. The second is we think if they do not return our calls or respond to our emails they are not interested. Neither of which is true.

Let’s take the idea that customers are not interested. I’m assuming that you are calling on people that truly can benefit from your product or service right? Well if you are, the idea that they are not interested just isn’t right. Sure, they may not be buying right away. This is not because they do not need the product or are not interested. They are not buying because you have not provided enough value or enough reasons to make them want to buy now.

People are busy. More often than not the reasons they do not call you back is because something higher on their priority list took precedence. Your job with follow-up is to make your product or service hit their top five. Provide enough value that makes them not only want to buy it, but buy it now.

So let’s address your worry about being annoying. Well let me tell you, if you call me every week and ask me if I am ready to do business with you, then guess what you are annoying. Once a potential customer has not returned your call or email for the second time, you need to get the hint. The hint that email and phone calls are not working. Now it is time to get creative. Following up can be done in lots of ways! Invite them to events, connect on social media, introduce them to a potential client. Follow-up is about staying visible so when your prospect is ready to buy, you remain top of mind.

Here are 4 Sales Strategies to Master The Art of Follow-up

  1. Create Your Litmus Test

    The better you know your current customers, the better you are going to be able to choose your prospects. And by knowing them I mean, what characteristics and traits to they have in common? How and where are they alike? Once you know that, you know your type. Not only who is most likely to buy from you, but also who would be most open to follow-up. From there you can create a litmus test. A litmus test is nothing more than a set of criteria that helps you understand who will most likely buy from you and who won’t. For example:

    • Are they the decision maker?
    • Are decisions made locally?
    • Do they have the right employee size?
    • What is their sense of urgency on a scale from 1 to 5?

And so on. You get the idea. With a litmus test, you will have an objective set of criteria that you can use to help determine who is most likely to be interested in a follow-up call and just as importantly who would not.

  1. Be Direct

    Ask for the business twice then back-off. That is my rule of thumb. After a prospect shows interest, I make two directs asks to close the deal. If I do not get a response, then I know it is time to change my approach. Sure, I still follow-up. But the fact that they did not respond immediately tells me that something more pressing has come up or that I have not added enough value. I still know they are interested. I just change my approach to how I stay in touch.

  1. Get Creative

    So yes, I still follow-up but it is time to get creative. Who made the rule that following–up means that I call you every week and ask if you are ready to do business? Why does follow-up have to be boring? Yeah sure, you need to ask for the business. That is part of it, but the other part is just staying visible. Calling and inviting them to an event, introducing them to potential customers, sending them a quick video tip or sharing something you learned at a conference. All of these are great ways to “follow-up” with your customer without pestering them to death.

  1. Automate

    The answer to the question of when to give up is really almost never. Okay, I know we have some of those potential customers that we need to just take off the list, but honestly the crazy thing about business is you just never know. That is why it is so, so hard to know when to give up. Technology has made it so that we never have to. For those prospects that I have on my list that just do not respond, I simply put them on automated follow-up. Maybe they get my newsletter twice a year, a quarterly video tip I send out, or my holiday card. Just something that keeps me visible with them but does not cost me time and money trying to win the business.

So there you have it, the “Art” of Follow-up! The sales strategies you need to understand how to turn your prospects into your customers. Follow-up, a good solid strategy, is how you out-sell, how you out-service your competitors, and how you will succeed no matter what this economy does.

Visit Meridith’s Educational Resources 

Own It Book Cover With LinesMotivational Keynote Speaker & Business Growth Expert, Meridith Elliott Powell works with clients to help them instill ownership at every level to ensure profits at every turn. Meridith is the author of several books, including, “Own It: Redefining Responsibility: Stories of Power, Freedom & Purpose”. When not keynoting and leading workshops, she looks for inspiration cycling, golfing or hiking her favorite trail.  https://meridithelliottpowell.com

Meridith Elliott Powell

Voted one of the Top 15 Business Growth Experts to watch by Currency Fair, highly engaging corporate motivational keynote speaker Meridith Elliott Powell delivers a cutting-edge message, rooted in real-life examples and real-world knowledge. Meridith’s presentations are full of powerful content, highly interactive, and fun. She helps her clients learn the leadership development, sales and business growth strategies to turn uncertainty to competitive advantage.

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