One of the biggest challenges sales organizations face is securing customers who aren’t ready to buy. Maybe they’re considering a competitor’s offer or having internal issues that are delaying their decision-making. Whatever the case for their indecision, your goal is to convince these prospective customers to eventually buy from you.
To accomplish this often elusive task, you need to be savvy about the way you follow-up with prospective customers. Here are five keys to follow-up success:
1. Create a follow-up marketing budget. Your company probably spends significant dollars on marketing and advertising to attract new prospects. Why not invest more in converting prospects into customers -- particularly if they've already shown an interest in your company? This kind of approach will help you yield the highest return on investment for your advertising dollars.
2. Simplify their lives. While the ultimate purpose of your follow-up is to close sales, your messaging to prospects needs to go beyond selling. No prospect wants to constantly hear your message of “buy my stuff.” Instead, use the follow-up to establish yourself as a trusted advisor. You can send a prospective customers articles and information addressing their concerns, for example. By helping them, you build trust. When they are finally ready to make their buying decision, they will be more likely to buy from you.
3. Use multiple touch points. Email is the easiest and quickest way to follow up with prospects, but don't limit yourself to one form of communication. When following up, you an reach out with a phone call, through snail mail, or by sharing a video link. All of these give you a better chance of engaging prospective customers, increasing their likelihood of buying.
4. Set a follow-up timeline. Set a follow-up timeline based on your typical sales cycle. For example, if the typical sales cycle is one month, perhaps you should follow up with prospects twice per week for the next four weeks, once per week for the following two weeks, and then monthly for the next 12 months.
Most importantly, don’t give up. You’ll be surprised how effective reaching out to a prospect six months after your initial contact can be. Most importantly, because your competitors will rarely follow-up with prospects for that long, you’ll often be able to close sales without any competitive pressure.
5. Establish a follow-up system. It’s important to establish a system, particularly with follow-up sequences that last many months or even years. Without systems in place, it’s too easy for someone to drop the ball and for necessary follow ups not to get done. This can range from simple follow-up alerts in your CRM system to hiring a marketing manager whose sole focus is helping sales staff secure more sales from follow-ups.
In today’s competitive business world, it's all too common for buyers to delay making a decision. Those firms that can leverage this fact via effective follow-up will dominate their markets. Remember the old adage -- you can’t improve what you don’t measure. Measure the effectiveness of your follow-up campaigns. Determine what’s working and do more of it. Likewise, fix or refrain from continuing the efforts that aren’t yielding results. Do this and you’ll be the envy of your market.
The author is an Entrepreneur contributor. The opinions expressed are those of the writer.
Dave Lavinsky is the co-founder of Growthink, a Los Angeles-based consulting firm that helps entrepreneurs identify and pursue new opportunities, develop business plans, raise capital and build growth strategies. He also is the author of Start at The End (Wiley, 2012).