I'm going to let you in on a little secret. A sales rep’s success depends entirely on their sales process. Well, you got me... it's not that much of a secret. However, optimizing and automating the sales process is how you turn your leads into more customers, reduce exhausting repetitive actions, and clean up that overbearing mental load of worrying about your leads.
By finding comprehensive sales tools that work for you and reducing that mental clutter, you can actually focus on giving prospects the time they need and stop wasting leads.
So, are you ready to trade out your lackluster follow-up strategies for these smarter practices? Then redefine your sales process using these simple steps.
1. Eliminate the Guesswork
This tip is #1 for a reason. It’s important. If you’re following up based on a “gut feeling” or a strict schedule, stop. You need to follow up when prospects are engaged or you’re just sending irrelevant messages that only annoy the prospect.
Back in the day, before social media and online dating, you had to ask someone out in person and hope they weren’t a serial killer when you got to dinner. Today, you can do a little research. Add them on Facebook, check out their Instagram, or simply Google them.
Prospects are just the same. Don’t leave follow up to chance. Treat it like dating; those leads are a packed bar filled with potential matches. Plus, keep in mind that a little research can save you time down the road.
Have a research checklist you walk through before contacting prospects that includes keeping notes of interesting information you find and use that in your follow-ups. Prospects will take note of your attention to detail.
To keep with the ‘sales as dating’ metaphor, it’s all about timing. The key, however, is not about waiting around until a prospect tells you they’re ready. It’s about setting up strategies for follow up and automating the process.
When a prospect is ready though, you need to be there. Although you can’t be sitting next to your phone every time a prospect calls, do your best to get back to them as quickly as possible.
Also, use sales automation tools to know when and how to re-engage dying deals. Build this into your sales process.
3. Try Different Approaches
You never know how someone prefers to communicate with there being so many options these days. A traditional phone call might not be the way your prospect wants to be contacted. Even worse, some consumers will often times give bogus contact information for their least preferred communication type. How do I know this? Because I'm guilty of it myself.
Don’t give up if you get their voicemail. Send an email, a text message, or a note on social media. You may be surprised what gets your prospect’s attention.
However you choose to contact a lead, track what you do. You need to determine what works and what doesn’t so you can streamline your process in the future. The best way to do this is to consistently log all your sales actions and prospect responses in a CRM.
We know, that’s hard. We do it in our office, and while it may be time consuming, the information you get from consistent record keeping keeps your team informed and up to date on how best to help your prospects and clients. Most reps hate logging because it’s distracting, which means most actions don’t get logged. But in order to understand what works and what doesn’t, this is what you need to do.
Remember, adding more steps to your process is not the point, it’s about efficient tracking and simplification.
No one wants to feel like one of the many on your email list. Prospects want to feel special. Use merge tags and your own research to personalize your follow-ups.
The more relevant you’re able to make your follow up to the prospect’s specific needs, the higher your success rate will be in getting a response. Remember, you’re talking to people, human people, not just anonymous “leads.”
To maximize your effectiveness, combine this task with decreasing guesswork and ask prospects specific questions in your follow-ups. Science has proven that people love talking about themselves, so asking questions might prompt them to engage in the conversation (source).
5. Tell a Story
You’ve seen your own email inbox—you get tons of emails a day asking you to buy something/sign up for something/donate to something. Your leads’ inboxes look exactly the same.
Along with the previous tip, you can’t get away with sending boring, irrelevant emails. To spice things up, get in the habit of turning your emails into a story. One study showed that after a presentation, 63% of attendees remember stories. Only 5% remember statistics.
Use the SCQA framework to practice your storytelling. Start with a familiar Situation to build relevance, move onto a Complication to develop intrigue, then state a Question to create a natural path to the Answer. Test out this framework and watch it work wonders.
6. Scale with Automation
Once you start to learn what works, scale that process by automating it. Test email templates, calls-to-action, and follow up regimens, then take the most effective processes and let them run themselves.
The easiest way to do this is set up prospect mass email campaigns. But the trick is to not start out this way. Your mass email campaign should be the result of aggressive testing and tracking to know what will actually work. Eventually over time, you'll have the automation down and you can start taking higher day caps, or more leads to feed into your system.
7. Reduce Your Mental Load
When you’re working on thousands of prospects, it gets really difficult to keep track of all your actions and their responses. Each of those prospects is in a different stage of the sales funnel, and you’ve taken different actions and gotten different responses from them at different times. It’s exhausting just writing about it!
When you sit behind your desk in the morning and ask yourself, “Who should I follow up with now?” This is often based on guesswork and gut feeling. As a result, you contact a prospect at the wrong moment with an irrelevant message, leading to your prospect being annoyed. And there’s nothing worse than your prospect being annoyed when you’re trying to sell them!
This chaos not only leads to huge mental load, it leads to loss of prospects. But the good news is, it can easily be avoided.
Your first thought would probably be to automate your sales, but that won’t help you much here. The trick is to keep a consistent follow-up schedule and log all your contact attempts. Most reps forget to log their actions, which is the #1 reason for a chaotic sales process. And most reps only keep a basic follow up schedule.
Make logging a habit, so you don’t even think about it, you just do it.
8. Use Email Templates to Speed Up Your Flow
Templates help you automate your own follow up process, but they shouldn’t be used blindly. Track each template’s performance and test small and big changes to make them as effective as possible.
Once you have followed tip #6 and you have your automation down, that is when I would typically include templates. When using a template, be sure to add some personalization into it, whether it's follow up to your prospects' party they went to, or answers to some of their questions.
9. A/B Test Your Follow-Ups
This goes beyond email templates and font sizes. Use research and psychology to fine tune everything from emails to pitches to collateral materials. Try not to get too caught up in minuscule changes, but focus on big differences that bring in big results.
See what types of emails work best for you, by testing on small samples. This prevents exhausting potential clients in your testing phases, and if one prototype email gets poor results, good thing you only sent it to 100 leads, not 2,000.
Sales Follow-Up Strategies & Key Takeaways
By implementing an efficient sales process, you will hit targets faster. Or you’ll at least hit them in the first place. Those leads aren’t for show, they are real potential customers and you can use this process to turn them into real consumers for your business.