Why and How to Follow Up After Your Outbound Sales Appointment
Why and How to Follow Up After Your Outbound Sales Appointment
Did you finally set that appointment with the prospect you've been pursuing for weeks? Did you give a killer presentation at the meeting? If so, you're probably on cloud nine right now! But your work is far from over. In fact, you may be entering the most critical phase of the sales process: the follow-up phase.
Let's dig into why following up after your outbound sales appointment is so important, and how you can do it successfully.
Why is following up so important in sales?
The simple answer? If you don't follow up, you're going to lose deals that you would have won otherwise.
Interestingly, some sales experts say that 80% of deals require at least 5 follow-ups before they finally close. Think about that for a second! Four-fifths of your leads will need you to follow up with them at least 5 times before they finally commit to your brand. Viewed in this light, the initial sales meeting is just the beginning of the process that ultimately transforms your leads into paying customers.
Granted, most sales reps want to avoid "annoying" their leads at all costs. However, there's a big difference between annoying and persevering. When handled the right way, follow-up efforts can lead to exceptional results — both individually, and for the company as a whole
How to follow up after the sales appointment
Following up with a lead doesn't have to be a highly stressful endeavor. It's all about being organized, staying disciplined, and showing personal interest. Here are some key suggestions that can help you to successfully follow up after all of your sales meetings:
1. Send a thank-you email and a handwritten thank-you note within 24 hours of your meeting.
Sending a thank-you email is just common courtesy in today's business world. Make sure you send it not too long after your meeting ends — and definitely by the end of the day if at all possible. Your subject line should be attention-grabbing, and contain a personal touch. (After all, you just spent some time with the prospect one-on-one!)
However, if you really want to stand out from the crowd, send a handwritten thank-you note to the prospect as well. There's something about receiving a note on paper that differentiates it from receiving an electronic message. In today's plugged-in world, it takes significantly more time and effort to write on a paper card, place it in an addressed envelope, stamp the envelope, and mail it out than it does to compose an email. Sending your lead a handwritten card as a follow-up will impress them, and make them more likely to reach back out to you.
2. Compose a short summary of key takeaways from the meeting.
In some situations, it may be a good idea to write three or four bullet points that cover the main topics considered during your sales meeting, and send that summary to the lead some time after the appointment. This will help the prospect to remember the main thrust of the conversation, and show that you were truly paying attention to the needs and concerns discussed with you at the meeting.
Even if you don't send out the summary, it can still prove helpful to you moving forward. For example, if the lead mentioned his/her top priority when researching your product, you can use that information to help you inject some added persuasiveness in any future meeting with the prospect.
3. Mention some specific next steps — for you and the prospect.
A sales meeting that doesn't result in a specific plan of action is basically a waste of time. You don't want your leads to feel that way about their appointments with you — so make it clear what steps you will take in the days and weeks after the meeting, and what steps (if any) they should take.
For example, is your next step to provide them with a product demo? Or if you already gave them a demonstration (and they loved it), is their next step to sign up for a free trial? Be transparent with your next steps, and get their agreement before you end the meeting. And if you forget to discuss one of those key steps, use that as an opportunity to reach out again with a follow-up message.
4. Keep the promises you make.
This one should be obvious, right? If you promise to do something for your prospect during the course of the meeting (whether that's to send them a helpful piece of content, to give them a quote after some research, or anything else), then deliver on your promise. In fact, you could even promise to follow-up with them if they don't reach out to you within x number of days!
The point is, if you keep your word, even in the little things, it will show them that you can be trusted — and that you're serious about wanting their business.
5. Schedule your follow-up sequence.
There's a simple truth about modern life that all salespeople have to deal with: If you don't schedule it, it's probably not going to happen. That's especially true of follow-up calls and messages. Everyone leads busy lives, and it can be easy to forget about certain prospects if they're not "on our radar."
Perhaps the most effective way to prevent this lapse from occurring is to immediately add your prospect into a predefined "follow-up sequence" after the meeting. This could be in your calendar app or your CRM platform of choice.
Your follow-up sequence will likely include that thank-you email mentioned earlier (along with the handwritten note), a recap of next steps, and then a time slot for reconnecting with them, perhaps within 2-3 days. Instead of leaving your follow-up sequence to chance (and memory), this framework will help you to keep track of all the prospects who are due for a call or message, so that none of them slip through the cracks.
6. Go the extra mile by (unexpectedly) giving your prospect something of value after the appointment.
This final suggestion can mean the difference between slowly losing prospects vs. winning them over with your thoughtfulness. This is also where personal interest takes center stage.
Even after you've delivered on the promises made during the sales meeting, keep thinking about ways to delight your lead. Did you learn about some of the prospect's hobbies or interests during the sales call? If you come across an article or book that discusses one of those topics, send it their way! Is the prospect planning an upcoming trip? Send them a guidebook for the local area, or a list of attractions and restaurants they may enjoy. Then again, providing the prospect with a referral for their business is certainly a way to unexpectedly delight them.
Other helpful tips for following up
Apart from the techniques discussed above, here are some other tips that can help you to gain the attention and confidence of your prospect:
- Don't make every email a request. Have you ever had a friend who constantly wanted you to give, without offering anything in return? How did you feel when that friend gave you a call? Did you always pick up? The point is, if every interaction you have with a prospect is based on them doing something for you, you can bet they'll start to ignore your messages. That's why it's so important to share something valuable and interesting with your prospects on your follow-up calls. If you're constantly giving, instead of asking to receive, your leads will be more inclined to respond to your outreach.
- Make personal connections with your prospects. Try to build a rapport with them in your initial sales meeting. Look for things that you both have in common: children, pets, sports, hobbies, etc. Whatever the connection may be, spend some time talking about it, and then mention it — organically — in follow-up calls. Those personal connections will make you (and by extension, your company) more relatable.
- Constantly reinforce your value. You don't have to be heavy-handed about this, but you should be intentional. You may need to repeat your core message several times before it finally sinks in for the prospect. Look for opportunities to reiterate why they should buy from you. Here's a simple formula that can help you both during the sales meeting, and when following up with the prospect: Tell them what you're going to tell them, tell them, then tell them what you told them. Remember: repetition is the mother of retention!
- Know when to walk away. Finally, it's important to know when to throw in the towel, and move on to other prospects. Some leads may be saying "not now," or "not yet" — but some are just saying "no, period." You'll need to use good judgment to distinguish between the two situations. You may have to ask the prospect when they would like you to follow up with them next — and if they're not really interested, they'll likely express that to you.
At the end of the day, following up with prospects is an oft-overlooked, but absolutely essential part of any effective sales process. If you need an extra boost for your follow-up efforts, our team of outbound sales experts at Leadium can help. Reach out to us today to learn more.
80% of deals require at least 5 follow-ups before they finally close. Four-fifths of your leads will need you to follow up with them at least 5 times before they finally commit to your brand.