Sales follow up activities are what takes you from the introduction to closing the deal. After meeting with a client, you have to keep the conversation moving forward. Therefore, knowing how to follow up is arguably the most critical part of the sales process—if you don’t do it right, you risk losing to the competition.
Keeping track of sales follow up can be tough, but luckily there are CRMs like Zoho that give you easy ways to track follow-up activities for all of your leads. Zoho CRM allows you to follow up with customers with in-app dialing, email template storage, live chat, and social media communication. Visit its website to choose a plan or start a free 15-day trial today.
Use these expert tips to master your email, phone, and video follow up:
1. Plan Next Steps Together
Always end the first meeting by asking about next steps. Often, your prospect will tell you what other decision-makers need to be involved at the conclusion of the meeting such as board members or their own boss. Or, they might want to schedule more time with you personally to take a deeper dive into your product’s capabilities. Whatever needs to happen, be on the same page so you can keep the opportunity moving toward a decision.
For example, imagine your company sells customer relationship management software and you have a promising initial demo with the CEO of a new small business. If they want to carve out an hour to look at specific features with you, get it on the calendar before you finish the meeting.
If they want to introduce you to the rest of their small team, ask if you can schedule it beforehand. If he or she needs to compare schedules with the rest of the team, send them a scheduling link such as Acuity or other free appointment scheduling software programs to pick a time at their convenience.
“Always present a ‘next step’ at the end of a sales call. This sends a signal to your prospect to begin noting down action items they need to tackle in between now and the start of your contract. If you’ve already shown your prospects the solution to their problems, illuminate the way. Then, gently remind them of how to efficiently make it so.”
—Reuben Yonatan, Founder & CEO, GetVOIP
Pro Tip: As a salesperson, your role is all about trying to make the prospect’s life easier. Demonstrate a commitment to that principle every step along the way during the buying process.
2. Determine Their Preferred Communication Style
It’s important to determine each prospect’s preferred communication style because everyone is different—and if you’re reaching out to them the way they prefer, the more responsive they will be. It’s a step many salespeople skip because they have the same process for each customer, but it’s a simple step to take—just ask.
“Establish rules of engagement with your prospect from the beginning. This sales process should be on their terms, so make sure you ask them how often they would like to be followed up with. Something I like to do with my follow ups is to include an in-depth report that will provide value for the prospect whether or not they sign up to work with us. It’s all about providing value.”
—Brandon Amoroso, Founder & CEO, electrIQ marketing
This principle could apply to any relationship—and it’s one of the simplest ways to let the prospect know you’re focused on helping them rather than the other way around. When you’re wrapping up your first meeting, ask, “What’s the best way for me to get in touch with you? I know there are so many methods to communicate nowadays, so just let me know what’s convenient for you.”
While some prospects find it easy to communicate via text messages or over emails and phone calls, many people reserve text messaging for friends and family—not for work-related communication. If you send an unsolicited text to a business prospect, they might be annoyed or view it as overstepping boundaries.
Some people dislike talking on the phone and prefer communicating through video calls because they can read body language. It’s also helpful to ask what the best time of day is for you to reach out. Many busy professionals carve out intentional time to answer emails and calls as well as time where they don’t answer calls or emails to focus on deep work. The more you know, the better.
Pro Tip: You’re probably in buying conversations with many prospects. So, how do you keep track of all this information? Use a CRM such as Zoho CRM to set reminders, take specific notes, and even create custom workflows that sends a follow-up email every time a prospect reaches a certain deal stage. Try Zoho CRM today for free.
3. Follow Up Immediately
Even if you had a great demo and the prospect is clearly interested, delaying your sales follow up after an initial sales pitch can seriously hurt your chances of closing the deal. Your potential customer has so many other things to do, if you don’t strike while the iron is hot, your opportunity can easily end up on the back burner.
If there’s a mutual fit between you and the person or business you’re pitching, they’re going to be excited at the end of that conversation. Your job is to give them information they need to make a buying decision and share with internal and external stakeholders involved as soon as possible. Capitalize on that energy and send follow-up email within two to 24 hours to keep the ball rolling and to stay in the forefront of the customer’s mind.
Your follow up message should include:
- The pain points you discussed that you’re trying to help solve
- They key benefits of your products and services—and how they present solutions to their issues
- An invitation to your next sales discussion meeting, if it hasn’t been scheduled during the first call
4. Add a Personal Touch in Early Follow-Up Efforts
Don’t forget to send a handwritten thank you card after your first meeting. In our digital-focused age, many people stop doing this, but it certainly helps you stand out and keeps your business conversation and potential partnership top of mind.
Invest in some branded thank you cards and mail one to each prospect you had a first meeting with at the end of the day. If you’re close by, you can stop by their office and drop it off personally. It’s one more touchpoint that helps you demonstrate the effort you’ll put in if given the opportunity to earn their business.
Another great way to quickly add a personal touch to an email follow up is sending a video that summarizes your conversation and next steps. You can easily record, send and track custom follow-up videos with programs such as BombBomb. Drop it in your email to create an engaging, custom follow-up touch that makes an impression.
5. Establish a Communication Rhythm
Just as you want to be aware of your prospect’s communication mode preferences, you also need to be on the same page about how often you’ll follow up. Fostering mutually agreed upon expectations helps immensely to keep lead generation and the sales process moving. If you don’t establish a good rhythm, you could be forgotten about while a competitor swoops in to earn their business instead.
“Create a sales environment where the customer CAN say, ‘yes’ at the time they’re most likely to say, ‘Yes,’ which is right after you present the solution. In a longer sales cycle with multiple stakeholders or demos, create an automated follow up email series and make sure they’re getting regular updates from you so you’re top of mind.”
—Jessica Magoch, CEO, JPM Sales Partners
For instance, sales follow up in a longer buying cycle often thrives with regularly scheduled follow-up meetings. Let’s say your main contact in an opportunity is a marketing manager, but they aren’t the primary decision maker. However, they are tasked with getting the right information from you to relay to the leadership team to make a buying decision.
Every week, your primary contact, Anna, meets with the leadership team and the decision to purchase your email marketing automation software is an agenda item. Her leadership team will be asking questions about your product and services, so it’s an excellent idea to set up a weekly sales follow-up meeting with Anna to answer the questions brought up so she can bring them back to her team.
Set a recurring meeting on both of your calendars and send a reminder the day before, also asking if your prospect has any questions you can prepare to answer beforehand to make the follow-up meeting as productive as possible. End each meeting with actionable next steps.
6. Reach Out–Even When It’s Not About the Sale
There are going to be times when you can’t follow up about the sale directly, but you still want to stay on the top of the prospect’s mind. For example, imagine a university is 100% on board with purchasing your technology products, but it has to be approved by the board first—and the next meeting is a month away. Or, they are currently contracted with someone else and need to wait until the beginning of the new fiscal year.
Keep up with the prospect to getting the deal to close when the timing is right with strategies such as:
- Send a link to interesting news relevant to their industry.
- Find out when your primary contact’s birthday is and send them a birthday card.
- Keep track of news happening in their specific company. For example, if they hired new staff, received a grant, or moved into a new office space, call or email to congratulate them.
- Send a testimonial from a current client or successful case study.
Pro Tip: Use Google News to create a category for a specific company, person, or industry. You can choose to receive notifications on any news that will be relevant to your prospect—giving you a reason to reach out even if there’s a lag in closing time.
7. Track Your Sales Follow Up Activities
A high-quality CRM allows you to track sales follow up activities in every stage of your pipeline, set reminders, store email templates, log phone calls, create custom fields, and more. For example, most CRMs will allow you to set up your next follow up step with a prospect and it will remind you automatically.
Keeping track of your sales follow-up activities is key to a robust sales process that helps you know what action you need to take with every prospect in each stage. However, remembering what follow up you need to take with multiple prospects is impossible—especially in long-term sales cycles—without a good customer relationship management (CRM) program.
For instance, even if you lose a deal, create a follow-up step to meet with the client about why you didn’t earn their business. You can use Zoho CRM to create reports that track the reasons leads aren’t converted into wins—helping to define your new features and processes.
Why Sales Follow Up Works
Sales follow up works because you are continually developing a relationship with prospects, while uncovering their needs and crafting a viable solution to make their lives easier. A prospect needs to know you care before they care what you know. On average, it takes seven “touches” or contact points/conversations before they know you care about their business, which gives them the confidence to invest in a purchase and partner with your business.
Sales Follow Up Email Templates
Remember, many sales reps give up and stop following up far too soon. Now that you know how important follow up is in closing any sale, you can use email to your advantage to engage your prospects more effectively and keep the ball rolling with every opportunity.
Here are some follow-up email templates you can start using today to more effectively engage prospects:
After a First Demo or Meeting Email
After your first meeting, it’s important to follow up quickly to recap the meeting, build on the prospect’s excitement, and clarify next steps. Send this email within 24 hours after your meeting.
Subject line: Next Steps From Our Meeting Today
It was a pleasure meeting with you today and learning more about [COMPANY NAME]. It was interesting to explore our opportunity to partner to help solve [COMPANY’S PAIN POINT] and deliver the results you’re seeking. To recap, here are the main ways we could help:
- Key point #1
- Key point #2
- Key point #3
I’m looking forward to meeting with you again on [TIME/DATE]. If you or any of your team members have any questions in the meantime, please don’t hesitate to reach out beforehand.
After a Trigger Event Email
A trigger event is when you’ve noticed that someone has opened a past email, clicked on a link, or opened a document you’ve sent. When this happens, you know they are thinking about your business, even if you haven’t been able to reach them recently. Send this template when a prospect demonstrates you’re on their mind.
Subject line: Interesting article
I know we’re not scheduled to touch base again until next month, but I wanted to send you this new article I found about your industry—I thought you’d find it interesting. I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Last time we talked, you asked for a price breakdown. Let me know if you have any questions about what I sent you.
Pro tip: You can use email-tracking tools to receive trigger event notifications, like when a prospect re-opens an email or proposal.
The Congratulatory Email Regarding Company News
Keep tabs on your prospects’ business news so you can reach out and congratulate them. It’s a great touch point and lets them know you care. Send this email whenever you notice exciting news about a prospect’s business.
Subject line: Congratulations on [COMPANY NEWS]
I was browsing the news today and saw the exciting announcement about your company! I wanted to send a quick congratulations regarding your [NEWS: company anniversary, award new hires, new office space, etc.] We at [COMPANY NAME] are thrilled for you and your team.
Looking forward to our next meeting on [DATE/TIME]. Talk soon!
The Case Study or Testimonial Email
You’ve pitched the wonders of what your product or service can do for a prospect. It’s also a great idea to back up what your business can do with a case study and testimonials. Send this email to a prospect to reinforce how you can help them reach their business goals by demonstrating how you did it for a current client.
Subject line: Here’s how [YOUR COMPANY NAME] helped [CUSTOMER NAME]
Over the last year, we’ve been helping companies just like yours achieve [RESULT THE PROSPECT IS SEEKING]. As you and your team are preparing a decision, we know it’s best for you to have the data you need to make the right choice.
I’m attaching a case study about how we helped [CLIENT] by:
- #1 result
- #2 result
- #3 result
[Include client quote from case study, if possible]
Let’s set up some time about how we can create similar results for [COMPANY NAME]. Please me know when works best for you, or connect directly to my calendar with my Calendly link to schedule a convenient time.
When the Prospect Has “Gone Dark”–aka, The “Hail Mary” Email
It’s happened to everyone in sales—the prospect is super excited, then they seem to fall off the face of the earth. You haven’t been able to reach them in weeks or months. If you simply aren’t getting responses, send this email.
Subject line: What went wrong?
I’ve reached out a few times over the past several weeks after our last meeting. I haven’t been able to get in touch with you so I can only assume one of three things:
- You’re good to go with your current solution, so I should stop emailing you.
- You’re still interested—but you’re busy and haven’t had a chance to write back.
- You’ve been held hostage by the email warlords and need help.
Regardless, please let me know so we can explore next steps, if any.
Pro-Tip: Don’t be afraid to be creative with this email and interject some humor. You haven’t heard back in several weeks and have nothing to lose. Plus, you’ll come across as a real person and likely get your prospect’s attention.
Want even more sales follow-up templates? Here are 13 more sales follow up email templates you can download today.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) (if applicable)
How do I know when I should follow up with a prospect?
When it comes to follow up, don’t expect that the prospect will follow up on their own—it’s up to you. Follow up after the first meeting, and create communication expectations so both you and the prospect are on the same page about when you’ll talk again and the next steps.
What questions should I ask when conducting sales follow up?
Be clear with the prospect. Ask if they like the solution you can provide and if it would make their life easier. If it’s a “yes,” ask what needs to happen next in order for you to earn their business. Usually, they will reveal information about decision-makers and their purchasing process.
What should I do if a prospect “goes dark” and I can’t reach them?
Send an email with a catchy subject line or even make a video and ask them if you should keep following up. If the answer is no, a prospect will often tell you why. If you’re local, stop by their office to check in—just don’t pressure the prospect into making a decision.
The Bottom Line
Sales follow up is a critical part of any sales process—and one that takes place in every stage of your pipeline. However, many salespeople quit following up with prospects far too soon. Keep your sales opportunities alive with robust follow up including clear next steps and expectations, emails, phone calls, and even snail mail to close more deals and reach your sales goals.
Remember, using a dedicated CRM is an excellent way to keep track of your sales follow up with every prospect. Zoho CRM offers an array of plans, including a free-forever option for up to three users. Visit their website today to explore their plans and sign up for a 15-day free trial.