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Become a Follow-Up Fanatic Far too many startups lose valuable sales through a lack of consistent follow-up. Here's how to do it better.

By David Port

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Prime Time has finally arrived. After all the planning and plotting, your startup is ready for launch. The shingle bearing your company's name has been hung. The website is live. Like a bull in the chute, your sales team is clawing the ground, frothing at the mouth, hungry to corner and close prospects. Time for one last pep talk."OK, everybody," you say, your voice rising to a crescendo,"let's get out there and.nurture!"

Not exactly the words Patton would have used to rally his troops before battle. But given the prevailing mindset of B2B and B2C prospects today, it's just the kind of tactical advice a fire-breathing sales force needs to hear to set the tone for a successful sales campaign, asserts Sam Eidson, a founding partner at 90 Octane, a Denver marketing firm. "There's a perception--and, I think, often a valid one--that salespeople tend to be hunters, not nurturers. But in our experience, if you go through a nurturing process with your prospects, you will have a competitive advantage over the hunters, and your margins will improve."

A gung-ho attitude is great, as long as that energy is properly channeled during the sales process, Eidson explains. What plagues many lead-conversion efforts is an overemphasis on low-hanging fruit--"sales they can close today." That takes focus away from where it should be, on differentiating oneself in the eyes of prospects through a more studied sales approach that relies as much on old-school tactics like timely response, consistent communication, person-to-person contact and a deeper understanding of a prospect's business needs as it does on leading-edge tech tools.

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