You have a great meeting with a prospect and it feels like the sale is in the bag, but then weeks pass by without a peep from them and you begin to wonder if you imagined the whole thing. What could be going wrong?
Possibly, it’s nothing. It may be that something else is happening in the business that makes it a bad time to be investing in your product. There’s no harm in asking the question, if you think that might be the case. It’s better to know than to annoy them with more emails.
On the other hand, it’s possible that something about your follow-up is undoing all the good you achieved during your sales conversation.
Let’s look at a few ways to improve sales follow up emails. Are you employing all these tactics to keep the sales conversation going?
1. Don’t leave the ball in their court
Obviously, the decision to buy is your customer’s, not yours, but that doesn’t mean they should have to do all the legwork. You may feel you’ve made such a great impression that they’ll be on the phone within days placing an order, but in reality this is hugely unlikely. As you leave a meeting, let them know that you’ll be in touch in a few days and then make sure you follow through with that. Doing what you say you’re going to do, when you say you’re going to do it, is one of the key ways you build trust with a customer.
2. Build a relationship
We all know the importance of having a relationship with our customers. People buy from people, etc. Finding common ground, or learning a little about their interests, is another great strategy for follow-up emails. Socially surround your customer – connect with them, or at least follow them, on Twitter and LinkedIn so that you can stay up-to-date with what’s going on in their lives. If they follow a sports team, for example, you could keep an eye on the games and congratulate or commiserate with your customer. Perhaps you know when their kid’s graduation is coming up, or a wedding is on the horizon, or new grandchildren are coming along. Try to make a note of these things and use it as a reason to drop them a line. LinkedIn will help you out with reminders of people’s birthdays and work anniversaries. Steer clear of politics – there really is no safe ground there! I’d recommend keeping contact about 20% personal, 80% business so that things don’t get weird, but in general getting to know your customer is a huge advantage both for follow-up opportunities and to build a partnership.
3. Don’t be desperate!
If your follow-up contact, whether it’s emails or voicemails, is all geared towards ‘are you ready to buy now’, your chances of success are limited. Nobody wants that kind of pressure. Remember, you are trying to be a partner in this process. Your customer needs to feel that your ultimate goal is helping them achieve success, not helping yourself achieve your quarterly sales quota. Change the way you talk to your customer so that the emphasis is on their business. Let them know you’ve been thinking of them. This kind of consideration is much more likely to win you a response.
4. Always add value
With that in mind, you should always consider how your contact with a customer can bring them value. As well as following them and their business on social media, set up a Google Alert so that you’re also up-to-date with any business news. Use this knowledge and that which you gained from your meeting to pinpoint the customer’s need and then gear the content of your email towards helping them fulfill this need. In particular, seeking out helpful resources gives you both a reason to get in touch (the ‘I came across this and thought of you’ excuse) and a reason for them to read your email – i.e. you’re offering them something valuable. This article from B2B sales expert Jill Konrath has some great pointers for follow-up strategy, including the replacement of banalities like ‘touching base’ and ‘checking in’ with direct business insights. Remember, you’re not in this alone – work with marketing to find and develop the best possible resources to add value.
5. Put it all in your calendar
If your brain is anything like mine, you’re going to need to make a schedule. Set reminders to get in touch. It’s easier if you also add triggers – for example, the release of their company’s annual report, or the occasion of their son’s basketball championship.
The easiest way to keep in touch
When you use a Sales Enablement Platform that is integrated with your CRM, you have the best of both worlds. You can store all the important customer details in the CRM – even inputting them direct from the Sales Enablement App immediately after your meeting – and you can mail helpful resources direct to your customer from the app. This saves rooting around on your system and ensures that what you’re sending out is up-to-date, marketing-approved material.
Do you have any top tips for following up when things go quiet? We’d appreciate your comments!