How many times do you follow-up in order to close a sale? Do you follow-up at all? Most business owners give up too soon. There are a multitude of reasons why many of us are afraid to pull leads through our sales funnels.
There’s an art to the sales follow-up. If you’ve been in business for any length of time, you’re likely familiar with the sales adages that go something like: “The fortune is in the follow-up.” And I’m sure you’ve been reminded to do one thing to close more deals: “Don’t forget to follow-up!”
This is not bad advice. So much money is left on the table because people don’t follow-up. For example, in the service-based industry and coaching world, it’s shocking just how many people aren’t following up even though they know they should (and they’re aware of how important this step is).
Four reasons why entrepreneurs don’t follow-up
Lately, I’ve started to wonder why. So, after a bit of investigation, here are my thoughts on the top reasons why business owners don’t do sales follow-ups and how to overcome them.
1. I don’t want to keep asking if they’re ready to buy.
This is a valid point. I wouldn’t want to either, but the fact is – that’s not what a sales follow-up is about. Many business owners miss the point on this and think following up is merely getting back in touch with a prospect to ask if they’re ready to buy. It’s not!
A sales follow-up, when done right, is about building a relationship. You can’t do that if all you do is send messages asking, “Are you ready to buy?” Sure! Following up is about sales conversions, but that’s not how you approach it. If you find yourself saying, “I’ll contact them to see if they’re going to buy today,” then following up will feel awkward and icky for you. Plus, it’s likely you won’t get successful results from it either. Start with a simple, “How have you been?” This simple question increases success rates by 6.6X.
2. I don’t know what to keep in touch about.
Let’s be honest. The “How are you?” message is a little tedious if you’re unclear why you’re staying in touch.
This is another reason why business owners don’t follow-up. They run out of things to follow-up about, and the thought of repeating the same message fills them with dread, so they don’t do it.
However, there are two effective approaches that work.
- First, keep an eye on what they’re up to via social media. Have they won an award recently? Have they traveled somewhere? Perhaps, they landed a great PR mention. You can use recent life events as a reason to stay in touch. Interacting on social media also allows you to build rapport.
- Second, perhaps you’ve come across an article, opportunity, or research paper online that would benefit them. If so, send a brief email with a link to the resource.
Both of these approaches work well because the recipient feels you are paying attention and thinking of them. This, alone, will strengthen the relationship over time.
3. If they wanted to buy, they would have done so already.
Not true. Yes. There’s always a percentage of people who will buy right there on the spot without a follow-up. I’ve done that personally, but not with every purchase. However, had someone not followed-up with me, I would have gone elsewhere.
Think about your own purchasing behavior. Have you ever made a purchase directly after someone followed up with you? Just because people don’t buy straight away, it doesn’t mean they never will.
Follow-up to see if the sales potential is there, otherwise, they’ll go with someone else.
4. I don’t have the right online tools to manage sales contacts, and I don’t want to learn anything new right now.
Use a good old-fashioned pen and paper or Excel spreadsheet if you’re not up to researching the best CRM (customer relationship management) software right now. If you don’t have the tools to manage follow-ups and keep track of everything, it isn’t a good excuse not to do it.
Is it a good idea to leverage technology? Sure! Yet it’s not essential, especially if you’re just starting out. Although, as you scale your business, you will benefit from a more streamlined approach. The right CRM software and online tools can do the heavy lifting for you. In the meantime, pen and paper or an Excel spreadsheet will work just fine.
Ultimately, following up is a significant part of the sales process. It doesn’t have to be complicated. You can be persistent without being annoying. And when done right, it can improve your sales results.
I’ve lost count of the number of entrepreneurs who told me they’d love to increase sales, but they don’t like to follow-up. I can guarantee the sales they’ve spent months wishing they had would have happened had they just followed up!
Follow-up, build relationships and experience the steady success it can bring.
Jane Baker is a business owner and coach. She specialises in working with online business owners helping them craft a message, packages and strategy that enables them to attract their ideal clients who are ready and willing to pay their prices!