When you’re trying to make the sale, your hard work doesn’t end once you leave the meeting with your potential customer. You must remain in contact until they’ve decided to take the plunge and buy your product or service. I’ve noticed entrepreneurs often struggle with follow-ups to make a sale, but continuously following up with a contact is what will convert a lead into a customer at the end of the day.
If you aren’t going the extra mile to follow up via email, phone or text, but your competition is doing it, they will close the sale instead of you. In order to avoid this and land the sale yourself, there are three keys to follow that will ensure you stay on top of leads and continue to follow through with potential customers so they can buy from you.
Leads that convert to customers are the foundation of your business. Working with entrepreneurs, I often hear them talk about having issues converting contacts to full on leads that make a purchase. Over the years, I’ve noticed a pattern: the entrepreneur will make first contact with a potential lead and then … nothing! They either wait until the contact gets back to them, or they just send one email reminding the contact about working together. That’s it.
While some sales are very easy and the contact only needs one little nudge to become a customer, others take many touchpoints. However, many entrepreneurial companies are not set up to follow up more than once — and, to be honest, many entrepreneurs are not aware they need to keep reaching out until they receive a definitive answer.
It’s time to create an actionable plan that your company needs to use to follow up with each lead that is repeatable, scalable and that actually converts, which is why I’ve put together three pieces of advice below to help you learn when to follow up, how to communicate in a follow-up and how to automate the process.
1. Do your homework
When is your lead’s busiest time of day? What is their preferred method of contact? If you are working with a restaurant — as an example — it’s probably a good idea to not reach out about making a sale during the lunch rush hour, and if the restaurant owner never checks their emails, it’s best to give them a call to follow up. All of these data points are part of the homework you should be doing when working with a potential lead. You want to make it as easy as possible for them to say yes to the sale!
Besides researching your potential lead’s business, you can also do some homework on the competition to better pitch your sale. Find out what else is offered in your same niche, and learn about the differences. Hype up what makes your company different and why the lead should choose you.
For example, if you’re working as a freelance virtual assistant and you are pitching your services to a potential client, make sure you highlight what makes you different and how that will help the lead grow their business. Maybe you notice that the industry standard is that virtual assistants only work with only a certain kind of company, but you work with lots of different companies so your experience is more varied than your competition — it’s good to know that so you can pitch it to your client as a positive.
2. Ditch the script
After your meetings, always send a little message. There are tons of examples online that you can use as templates, but don’t copy them one to one (and don’t forget to change out the example company’s name for your own company’s name!). Besides needing a company’s services, people also choose salespeople that they get along with — or as the kids say these days, they choose people they vibe with.
Sending a canned script that is not written in your own voice and that does not highlight things you bonded over in your chats with a lead will not close a sale. Use online examples as an outline, then flesh out follow-up messages with your own personality.
Related: 7 Ways to Close More Sales
3. Take advantage of technology
Okay, so you’ve had your initial meetings with your new potential lead and you’ve exchanged a few messages back and forth. Now, it’s time to follow up on a continuous basis to keep the idea of a sale in front of your lead. Entrepreneurs wear many hats, and trying to remember to follow up on every lead can be difficult.
Don’t reinvent the wheel — use technology to automate the process! You can write out a few emails/texts that can be sent automatically. If you are making calls, use a calendar system of some sort that will send you reminders to give the person a call. You don’t have to try to keep all that information inside your head or attempt to hunt it down on a tiny sticky note lost somewhere in the shuffle of your office.
Remember, don’t work harder, work smarter! The main point is that you need to create some sort of plan to work on scheduled outreach with every potential lead that comes in through the door (whether that’s virtually or in-person), and that plan should be easy to execute internally for your business as well as externally for your brand new customer.