Getting leads is only half of the battle. Effectively managing and maximizing those leads requires finesse, skill, and tenacity.
Creating an effective follow-up process is crucial to winning more business and closing more sales. While business owners are aware of this in theory, it is a concept that many struggle to effectively put into practice.
We call lack of follow-up “Catch &
Release Lead Generation”. This means that you have dedicated time, money, and effort into obtaining a lead, only to toss them back by not doing your due diligence in the follow-up process.
Not only do you lose the direct benefits associated with winning the client, such as increased revenue for additional marketing, training, or facility improvements, you also lose any future or referral business that may have resulted from it and related, business-building positive reviews. Worst of all, you also hand all of those things directly over to a competitor, allowing them to gain an advantage in your local community.
And that really hurts over time.
Let’s put this into perspective.
According to the Harvard Business review, it takes 5-12 contacts or attempts to close a sale for most B2B clients, across all industries, and we have found this to be true in our own sales efforts as well.
However, 88% of salespeople only reach out 3 times or less, with the average being 1.3 attempts made before giving up. Over 30% of incoming leads are never contacted back at all. Can you believe that?
While most companies are failing at managing their leads, you don’t have to be one of them. It all comes down to establishing systems and being organized. With the right process in place, you can easily win more jobs over your competitors.
The good news here is that your competitors are probably not following a good process either.
While your personal follow-up process should be customized to your business and your needs, we have 3 rules that every follow-up plan should adhere to.
Follow-up fast for a great first impression, follow-up frequently to keep the conversation flowing, and follow-up forever to keep the relationship alive.
Think about how much sense that makes… and how much money is being lost.
Dr. James Oldroyd, a professor at Brigham Young University who has extensively studied customer behavior, reports that 35-50% of all sales go to the vendor that responds first, regardless of price point and the number of vendors contacted. That means that you can close 35-50% of sales just by answering the phone and providing a professional consultation to your potential client.
If you miss the call, or if a lead contacts you via a form on your website, you have a 5-minute window to return that call for maximum chance of closing the deal. If you reach out to them in under 5 minutes from initial contact, you are 400% more likely to convert them to a sale than waiting even 10 minutes.
It’s no secret that money loves speed, and this only proves it.
We know it is important to be fast from a statistical perspective, but why is customer behavior so predictable?
It all comes down to the way people and businesses buy things.
Think about the last time you made a big purchase for your business. Chances are you did your research to get a good idea of what you wanted, then either selected a vendor based on reviews or product availability. You then reached out when you had a free moment, before going on to the next thing in your busy day.
Let’s look at what might have happened next.
What if you reached someone instantly who could assist you in getting exactly what you needed, or just a few moments later, your phone rang with a prompt follow-up? Pretty awesome, right? They caught you at a good time, and you were able to get it taken care of quickly and easily, providing you with a great customer experience.
Or, conversely, what if 1 or 2 days went by, and you still hadn’t heard from them? Would you reach out again, or would you contact someone else? Either way, how do you feel about doing business with this company now? Not as excited, right?
Your clients are just like you. If you want the best possible chance of winning their business, you need to follow up with them as soon as you possibly can, and provide them with an easy, positive experience.
So let’s start talking about your process. In order to follow-up frequently, you have to have some sort of follow-up procedure in place.
When you first get a lead, there are a few potential outcomes. Ideally, it is a phone call that comes in, you answer it with a smile and professional greeting, and close the deal.
Unfortunately, every situation isn’t ideal.
Your first communication may be a form lead, or a missed call, or may require more follow-up in order to close the sale.
Follow-up daily for the first 5 business days after receiving the lead, or until they respond, become a client, or tell you they are not interested.
Continue to follow up weekly for 4 more weeks, then add them to your long-term marketing list for continued, infrequent communication.
The method of follow-up you choose depends on the type of message you are sending.
Your initial follow-up should always be by phone, if possible, and as quickly as possible. This is especially important if it was a missed call. Any urgent matters, those requesting credit card details, or discussing other personal information should also be handled via phone.
While your most important messages should be done by phone, there are a lot of ways you can automate the follow-up process using email or text communications. Special promotions, educational messages, well-wishes for the holidays, or non-urgent requests for information can all be sent via email.
Utilizing a variety of communication types throughout the process can not only reinforce your brand by having you appear in multiple channels over time; it also makes it easier to keep a prospect or client engaged.
Our last rule is to follow-up forever. Tom Hopkins, of the International Sales Academy, says it best: “Follow up, follow up, follow up until they buy… or die.”
You may have had a lead come in, called them back repeatedly, did everything right, and still weren’t able to close the sale, or maybe never even got to speak with the person.
That doesn’t mean it is time to stop communicating with them. Leads can come back much later, for all kinds of reasons. We have had clients come back years after getting a quote, because their project was delayed due to family or personal reasons, financial reasons, or simply because they weren’t as ready as they thought when they first called.
Because we have systems in place to keep the lines of communication open, we are able to draw these leads back and convert them into clients when they are ready, with virtually no effort on our part.
Of course, this means following our proven process for collecting every caller’s email address up front, along with name and phone number during the initial call. Our Lead Manager can collect a lot of that data for you; however, it is important to always verify the best contact details for both phone and email.
Leads aren’t the only ones who need long-term love and attention- don’t forget your clients, either!
Maintain a follow-up schedule for past or current clients, even something as simple as short monthly emails letting them know about promotions, asking for reviews, referrals, or more business, or just wishing them a happy holiday season. Do not send just promotional messages-make sure there is some meat with the potatoes.
We like to send 2-3 helpful, educational, or congratulatory emails between promotional emails. We find we get a much better reception and outcome when we send a variety of message types. This can vary based on the frequency of your mailings. If you are only sending 1 a month or so, it is fine to send promotions back to back.
Regardless of your long-term follow-up strategy, keep in mind that it’s all about relationship-building.
If you need assistance with phone handling, or creating a script for answering incoming calls effectively, here is another great resource you can use:
Your lead manager is the best way to tell us which leads you like best, so we can get more of them. You can find more information on how to best utilize your lead manager here:
Contact Mark My Words Media today for more information about how we deliver success for our clients, to get clarification on how to best follow-up with all of the new leads we are sending your way, or to learn more about what you can do to get the best possible results for your lead generation campaign.