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Follow Your Leads

Thursday, November 22, 2007   By Mike Reddy


Aside from impulse buys or necessary purchases, sales typically take place over a period of time as the customer works through the options and alternatives to arrive at a final purchase decision. That's why following up with customers who have discussed your product with you is an important part of finally closing a sale. It's amazing how many businesses either neglect to do this or do not have an established plan for following up with their leads.If you want to really appreciate the importance of this point put yourself in the shoes of a consumer, let's say a woman who is thinking of adding a deck to her house. She contacts 5 firms for an onsite inspection and quote. Statistics suggest she'd be lucky if even 2 of those followed up with a visit and later sent her a quote. What if one of those two actually followed through with a phone call to ask if the information was what she wanted and could they be of any further assistance. Which is likely to get the job?

Why don't salespeople follow up?

There are a number of reasons commonly offered by salespeople for not following up with leads. Top of the list are:

  • Not wanting to appear too pushy
  • Didn't get the impression the prospect was really interested in their offer
  • Didn't think the prospect was ready to buy yet
  • They just simply forget!

None of these 'reasons' really hold water. They are based on second guessing the situation and losing the initiative by leaving it up to the prospect to call back when they are ready. This approach doesn't exactly increase the chances of making a sale. After spending time on the initial appointment, maybe delivering a presentation and supplying a quote, why let the deal die from neglect by not following up?

See it from the prospect's point of view

A reminder call to a prospect will rarely be considered as 'too pushy' by them. They will more likely welcome the opportunity to discuss things further or even to be given that little prompt to decide the deal. It's true that following up too frequently will come across as being pushy so you need to consider what might be an appropriate interval between follow ups. You can make follow-ups more palatable by keeping them short and to the point. If it's possible to provide some additional value during your follow-up call so much the better. This may give your prospect a reason to choose you instead of a competitor. A good sales pitch is no guarantee that a prospect will automatically call you back either. People get busy, they have other projects on the boil or they forget. The longer the time you leave them without a follow-up call the more likely they are to get somebody else for the job or it may even slip off their list of things to do.

Build follow-up into your sales process

Getting the most from follow-up contact depends on building it into your normal plan of sales activity. You can script it so it works smoothly and without causing you any qualms by tackling it this way:

  • Always ask permission to follow up. That's good manners and it provides the opportunity to check diaries and arrange a time convenient for the prospect when they are likely to be more receptive. Besides, you may need to allow time for them to try out the product or gather further information for them.
  • Put the time and date details into your planner. Now you won't forget it or have to place several annoying calls trying to settle a mutually convenient time. It's also a commitment to making the follow-up so that the opportunity isn't lost because you find yourself too busy on other things.

There aren't too many things you should be busier with than selling, so follow-up is a process salespeople really can't afford to leave out of their sales process.

Mike Reddy is a Chartered Accountant, business coach and advisor helping businesses in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Gold Coast to easily increase their profits and cash flow. He is currently President of the North Sydney Chamber of Commerce, a Regional Councillor for Sydney North East and a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants Sydney leadership team. As well as advising businesses, Mike presents business development seminars and webinars and is regularly contacted by the media to comment on small business matters. You can connect with him on Facebook, Twitter and Google+.