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Automate Your Follow-Up Workflow to Boost Sales Conversions

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Increase sales with automated follow ups. Learn how technology can help you increase your productivity and close more deals.

Sales processes can take many forms, but they often go either like this:

Meet the customer -> Make the pitch -> wait to hear back

Or this:

Customer visits the web site -> they click around -> wait to see if they come back

In both cases, there is another critical step that makes all the difference between a deal closing or a potential sale disappearing into the either. It’s the quality of how your reps follow up.

Sometimes the follow-up can be pretty generic: a rep calls up a customer and asks, “So, have you given it any more thought?”

In other cases the follow-up is an obvious waste of time. The customer or prospect already made it clear they weren’t interested, and badgering them isn’t going to change anything.

What really works is a follow-up in which a rep provides additional information about a product or service, provides answers to questions that couldn’t be immediately addressed or offers a special discount or promotion based on the value of a deal.

Even then, though, more than one follow-up may be necessary to convert buyer intent into an actual purchase. It often takes two, three, four or even five attempts. This is because, especially in business-to-business (B2B) environments, purchase decisions involve multiple stakeholders, and there can be a lot going on behind the scenes a rep doesn’t even see.

If reps don’t make the effort to follow-up, though, it leaves the company with no other option than to go back to marketing and trying to attract other prospective buyers.

The problem is that reps, like all employees, are human beings with a limited amount of time and energy. The follow-ups they may need to do can be numerous, and they come on top of other duties such as assisting with sales forecasts, conducting demos and setting up their next prospect meetings.

Depending on the size of the sales team and their workload, it’s easy for following up with potential customers to fall through the cracks. Fortunately, technology has advanced to help automate this process in a way that optimizes the chances of closing a deal and helping reps crush their quota.

The development of more sophisticated tools is one of the reasons McKinsey research has estimated sales teams can improve their productivity by as much as 30 per cent by taking advantage of automation.

Turn following up into the easiest part of a sales rep’s job by taking the following steps:

1. Automate your workflows to provide an instant response when a lead expresses interest

Customers sometimes fill out online forms and wonder when someone at the company will get back to them. Don’t let that happen. Instead, design the forms so that they can be aligned with content that will help nurture the sale before a rep even reaches out.

Some of this content could include links to relevant company blog posts, an explainer video or the most common pricing-related details prospects want to know before they move forward. Make it easy for them to choose the right dates and times in a rep’s calendar to ensure the conversation moves forward.

2. Use automation to segment leads based on various criteria

It’s a lot easier to tailor the information you use to follow up with a lead when you know they share a set of common characteristics.

You might have different incentives to convert them into a purchase based on whether they’re a small, medium or large business.

There might be special versions or features of your products and services depending on whether the lead comes from manufacturing, retail or health care.

Some segments might be based on specific business problems or outcomes a lead is trying to reach. Create as many segments as appropriate, and revisit your segments based on a review of CRM data.  

3. Nurture leads through carefully designed sequences

Let’s say you’ve walked a lead through a demo of your product. After a week goes by, you might follow-up by sending over an eBook with market research that helps them make a business case for buying from you.

Next, follow-up with case studies and testimonials from people like them who have benefited from becoming your company’s customer.

Other sequences in a lead nurturing process could be an invitation to a webinar, a special promotional offer or buyer’s guide that helps them take that final step to signing off on a deal.

Be sure to set a trigger to provide real-time notifications for when a lead interacts with a follow-up, either through Slack, text messages or e-mail.

4. Use data to customize follow-ups based on behavior

It sounds like common sense but it’s easily overlooked: when customers act, pay close attention and respond accordingly.

Did the customer stop watching an explainer video half-way through? That could mean they understand how your product or service works, but they might need social proof that what you’re selling has traction in the market. That’s when a case study could do the trick.

Did a customer ask a question to their peers on social media? Add your response to others on the thread.

Did a customer click on a link almost immediately after they received it? Maybe your follow up should be equally quick. Show them you’re noticing and ready to help.

5. Personalize special offers based on a customer’s pain points

A follow-up shouldn’t come across as a desperate attempt to close the deal. It should convey the fact that you’ve been listening.

Even if you’re following up with content that applies to anyone, provide short-cuts to the most relevant details. If you’re sending an eBook with best practices that pertain to a particular vertical market, for instance, tell them in the e-mail the pages that relate most to their business goals.

Use the notes you’ve put into CRM from your initial meeting to fine-tune automated e-mails, and draw upon technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) to personalize your advice based on common needs and wants from similar customers.

Automating sales follow-ups isn’t a one-time exercise, of course. Track engagement metrics and closed deals logged in the CRM to refine your strategies. With time, the last follow-ups your reps do will be to send a “thank-you” message to customers for giving your company more business.

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