I was recently asked about my favorite ways to follow-up with customers. Considering how many touches it takes to make a sale, it’s both a delicate and rigorous process. Statistics suggest it takes eight touches to get an initial meeting and an additional ten touches to close the deal. So, 18 touches in all. Now let me ask you, would you assume that means making 18 phone calls in a row, asking the same things over and over?
In a word: no.
My first recommendation is to switch up your modalities: send an email, a message via LinkedIn, a voicemail, a text, a phone call and so on, varying the methods and repeating over longer intervals of time (two days, five days, a week, two weeks, etc.). All of these nudges could easily add up to 18 touches without making yourself a pest. Sometimes the process takes three or four months, other times longer! It might take 40 touches before they sign on the dotted line. So, be patient.
In my case I always try to do two modalities at a time, so less follow-up is necessary. For example, let’s say I have just emailed a short message and an attached one-page proposal to a customer. I usually leave a voicemail or send a text as well, saying “Hi John, just wanted to let you know I sent you the proposal you requested.” That way, the likelihood that they’ll forget about it is slim to none.
If I don’t hear back after a few days I conduct a second follow-up, either through a phone call or email. The message is pretty general: “Hello again, I thought I’d circle back and make sure you could open the attachment I sent. If you have any questions, comments or would like to get in touch, I’m available _____, ______, and _____.” I always offer the person a few different time windows, so things stay flexible. An alternative is to use a link that the prospect can click and schedule a 30 or 60-minute block on your calendar themselves. We recently introduced that innovation in our CRM and calendar apps, and it works like a charm. It avoids having a lot of back and forth communication coordinating a mutually convenient time.
My second recommendation is to keep track of each of these touches. One way is using an email program, HubSpot or another CRM that will notify you when your intended recipient has opened your email. If they haven’t, you can check back with them and ensure the email is back at the top of their likely overstuffed inbox. If using the phone or other modes of communication, take notes about each touch, recording the dates, times and details. It will take time to figure out which modalities work best for each of your prospects and customers.
As I mentioned before, be patient. Follow-up is a process; however, it is essential to closing the sale. Too often salespeople let potential customers slip between their fingers because they figure, “They’re not interested.” That is not necessarily the case, and it’s why going the extra mile (or miles!) is so essential.