A famous comedian once said, 90% of success is just showing up. Many times in sales, at least 90% of your success is following up! Here are a few tips on how to stay in touch with a prospect.
- When you send a proposal, you've got to follow up from the start. I recommend a multi-modal approach. If you send a proposal by email, you should also send a text or leave a voicemail, something like, “I just want to let you know I sent this proposal so you don’t miss it. I’ll follow up with you in a couple of days.”
- When someone asks for a proposal, it’s best to send it the same day or the day after. Of course, there are situations where you’ll need additional time to gather the right info and connect the dots; however, it’s important to send your proposal as soon as possible. If someone asks for a proposal at 10 a.m. and they see the proposal was written at midnight and sent by dawn the following day, they will likely be impressed with your professionalism. You don’t necessarily have to do that every time, although you really should if you want to cement your professionalism in the prospect’s mind. That lasting impression of genuine responsiveness can be very helpful after they become a customer. It might even help catalyze a steady stream of referrals.
Now let’s say you don’t hear back right away, or if you do, they might say, "I'm not ready to talk yet. I've got to finish X, Y and Z and I have a meeting with a board next Tuesday." Put a reminder in your calendar for the next time you plan to get in touch with them. If appropriate, you could negotiate a time to get in touch (in this example, perhaps right after the board meeting). You don’t have to be pushy. When the time comes, you might send an email saying, “I trust the board meeting went well?”
- During these follow-up interactions, all you need are one to two-sentence emails. The most important thing is to keep connected with your prospect; however, use a light touch when doing so. Send them information they can use, whether it’s an article that reminds them of your proposal, or perhaps something that aligns with their needs or values. In most cases, your prospect will appreciate that you haven’t forgotten about them, especially if they’re swamped with other distractions themselves.
Staying in touch is both proactive and preventative. Your diligence in following up is not only a sign of professionalism, but also an indicator of how you’ll communicate in the future. It prevents proposals from being ignored or stalled. When thinking about follow-up, ask yourself, “What would I expect or be grateful for if the tables were turned”? If you meet or exceed those requirements, you’re doing more than following up. You’re making yourself a genuine asset and differentiating yourself from all of the other salespeople your prospect has encountered.
One final thought: 39% of B2B buyers will select a vendor based on the professionalism of the salesperson rather than the offering, price, warranty, etc. That’s two out of every five prospects! With stats like those, you can’t afford not to demonstrate your professionalism by being genuinely responsive and staying on top of your follow-up.