Too many salespeople fail to appreciate the importance of timely follow-up. They don’t realize it’s what truly gets the job done. It’s often said that it takes seven touches to make the sale, and it’s tough to execute seven touches without an intense appreciation of follow-up.
It's amazing how busy salespeople can become and how easy it is to forget about their list of leads. Even in situations where they’ve completed their sales pipeline report, it’s not uncommon to hear something like, “Holy Cow! There are people here that I haven’t followed up with in eight weeks. I wonder if these deals are still alive??” At that point, the belated follow-up becomes an embarrassing chore, something they do to defend themselves from their sales manager’s queries.
What they should be doing is revisiting their sales pipelines every day to make sure they’re circling back with prospects at the appropriate times and using time-efficient protocols and tools. For example, templates can help streamline email follow-ups. People spend too much time writing emails, with at least two unfortunate consequences: 1) They write something much too long for a reader’s attention span; and, 2) They take much too much time writing each email, believing that each email needs to be an original.
Frankly, one would do well to consider the principles for creating a one-page proposal when drafting an effective email template, which could then be modified to reflect the relevant project, equipment type, customer or facility size. However, the first follow-up email should be fairly basic and straightforward:
"I really enjoyed our meeting today. As discussed, these are the action items I promised to do:
- Item 1
- Item 2
- Item 2
“And these are the action items you suggested you would be able to do:
- Item 1
- Item 2
- Item 3
“Please let me know if I missed anything so that I can update both the minutes of our meeting and our respective follow-up action steps.”
Notice that the language is softer on what your prospect promised to do. There is a chance their priorities may have changed between the time you met and the time you’re sending them this message. Your intent should be keeping things in perspective while preserving the momentum of your first meeting.
I’d recommend sending the first follow-up email as soon as possible, preferably on the same day. When you send the next email depends on what you agreed is supposed to happen. Ideally, you’d put yourself on the path of delivering your promises in rapid succession. You can use these accomplishments as the basis for your next follow-up communication. That reminds the person that you’re fulfilling the promises you made. Hopefully they are doing the same. You can check in on them with a short message:
“As promised, I’ve been working on [item 1] and [item 2], which I’ve attached to this email. Just checking in to see if you've made progress on your items. Feel free to contact me with any other questions or comments you’d like me to address."
Again, these are very, very quick emails. Two or three sentences at the most. It’s an opportunity to prompt your prospect, not pester them. Don’t email them every day or even every other day. Your goal is to stay on their radar, checking in with them every several days. Your message may be something as simple as, "Hey, I saw this article and it reminded me of our discussion last week."
Some salespeople actively search for those articles as an excuse to stay in touch. Hopefully it will be an important prompt, something that will get the ball rolling and cause your prospect to say, "Uh-oh. I owe something to this person. He's already delivering the items he promised during our meeting, and he’s even kind enough to be thinking about me when he's doing his business reading.”