Enterprise-level sales professionals must be skilled at each step of the sales process, from prospecting to following up. With all of the time invested in making the sale and closing the deal, sales professionals can’t afford to drop the ball when it comes to the follow-up. After all, relationships depend on effective follow-ups.
Chances are, your enterprise is spending a great deal of money on marketing and content. Rather than recreate marketing content with which to follow up, sales professionals should be utilizing the content already created by the marketing team. After all, they are using data and analytics to create evidence-based content, so sales professionals should use it to their advantage.
Some enterprises are so large, however, that sales professionals have difficulty finding and using relevant marketing content. One of the best ways to solve sales content problems within Salesforce is to use sales and marketing productivity tools, such as Docurated’s Sales Enablement App. These tools incorporate data to consistently make the best evidence-based recommendations for sales reps and tailor those recommendations to each sales situation. Sales and marketing productivity tools also make the content simple to find and track which content sells, making it easy for the marketing team to know which content sales reps are using and how. Plus, the enterprise knows which content effectively closes deals when the team utilizes these sorts of tools.
Tim Wackel, founder and president of The Wackel Group, a training and consulting firm dedicated to helping organizations find and retain customers, offers four ways for sales professionals to gauge follow-up effectiveness:
1. Don’t put it off – Your prospects also are the competitions’ prospects, so you need to be true to your word. You also need to follow up in a timely manner by using a contact management software to track commitments.
2. Ask great questions – Listening is important, but asking great questions is critical to moving opportunities forward. Asking questions keeps your focus on the prospect.
3. Be persistent, not pesky –Simply put, your follow-ups should add value to the prospect’s decision-making process, and you should create an outline for the conversation so that you are sharing only the most relevant information.
4. Just say no – If you decide not to pursue an opportunity, contact the prospect as soon as possible and be truthful. Either introduce the prospect to someone else in the organization or refer her to a competitor.
John Barrows, a sales trainer for Salesforce, LinkedIn, and other leading tech companies, admits that it can be difficult to follow up effectively. Sales professionals often struggle with maintaining momentum without being annoying while following up. While all sales situations vary, Barrows points to five keys to effective follow-ups that increase sales reps’ chances of open communication flow.
1. Ask for guidance on the best way to follow up with them while adding value and not being annoying – Ask the client how you can stay in touch. Remove the guessing game from the process and determine how you can add value to their world.
2. Ask what their preferred form of communication is and if they will respond – This is the time to get specific. By asking for a preferred method of communication, you get clients to commit to a level of responsiveness. Some clients may tell you exactly what to put in the subject lines of emails to get more opens.
3. Make sure you always end each conversation with a clearly defined next step – Before you end a conversation, get the next meeting on the calendar so you don’t have to play phone tag.
4. Summarize your conversations and get written confirmation – Send an email after a conversation that summarizes the discussion and asks for confirmation. This way, you know that you remembered the conversation correctly and have notes for future reference. You also show the client that you listened, which helps build a relationship. Best of all, you have a method for holding the client accountable in a professional way.
5. Always have a reason to reach out and never just call to ‘touch base’ or ‘check in’ – If you don’t have a valid reason for contacting clients, they won’t have any reason to speak with you. Determine the reason for the contact and lead with it, so the client knows you are focused on him.
As with any area of sales, there is not magic formula that guarantees an effective sales follow-up. But, if you put some of these recommendations to good use, along with a sales and marketing productivity tool, you will have more success with your follow-ups and close more deals.