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Success is in the Follow-Up

Achieving success in a sales career requires someone to have or acquire a variety of skills. It requires everything from having strong communication skills that allow for an impressive introduction to being an effective negotiator that gives every deal the best opportunity to close and everything in between. But statistics prove that REAL SUCCESS in sales is created in the area where so many salespeople fall short…FOLLOW-UP.

I’ve been in sales and sales leadership for over 20 years and it has always amazed me that this single step in the sales process is always the one that is most frequently not done properly or not done at all. My goal in this chapter is to help you understand a few things about follow-up:

  • Why follow-up absolutely has to be a non-negotiable for anyone in sales and sales leadership.
  • Why falling short in this area is such a bad trait for salespeople to have that it should almost be treated as a crime.
  • Why the typical old school follow-up methods just don’t work anymore
  • How entertaining follow-up will produce record-setting results beyond your wildest dreams.

Let’s start by addressing the fact that so many salespeople don’t even go as far as setting a disciplined schedule to do follow-ups. Creating the discipline in your sales career to make time to follow-up with prospects or proposed deals is without a doubt the most valuable thing that you could possibly invest your time into. Here are a few statistics to back up what I’m saying:

  • 20% of all salespeople make 80% of the sales. The fact is this…the 20% convert the prospects that the 80% give up on too soon.
  • 50% of all sales happen after the 5th contact, but most reps give up after just 2. (InsideSales)
  • It takes 8 cold calls to reach a prospect. 72% of all sales calls aren’t even answered. (Baylor University)
  • 92% of sales pros give up after the 4th call, but 80% of prospects say no four times before they say yes. (MarketingDonut)

So why does follow-up absolutely have to be a non-negotiable for anyone in sales and sales leadership? The bottom line is this…you will NEVER be truly successful in sales without making time to create a disciplined schedule for follow-ups. There just simply aren’t enough customers that will say yes the first time without hesitation. Most people aren’t impulse buyers that just make quick decisions. This is why the statistics show what they show. It’s also why so many salespeople don’t make it in sales and if they do make it they just don’t do very well financially in a sales career. Master the discipline of follow-up and you will be on your way to mastering the game of sales…and making more money than 80% of your colleagues.

Why is falling short in this area such a bad trait for salespeople to have that it should almost be treated as a crime? I’ll keep it really simple…because it is 100% a waste of time and money and shows a lack of motivation, discipline, and detail from any salesperson that lacks follow-up for any extended period of time. If you work for or at a company that pays salespeople any kind of salary or draw, the salesperson that doesn’t take the time to follow-up might as well be stealing from you because the hours that they work to acquire clients will never produce the results that they should. If you spend money on marketing to acquire leads, the salesperson that has doesn’t follow up might as well be throwing a large percentage of the leads you give them in the garbage can the minute they get them if they’re not going to be disciplined enough to follow up. More than 80% of clients take at least 4 no’s before they say yes! Salespeople that follow-up with discipline WIN…and salespeople that don’t follow-up or don’t follow-up with discipline LOSE.

Why don’t the old-school follow-up methods work anymore? It’s simple, we have far too much access to prospects these days and that leads to far more people calling them and so STANDING OUT from the crowd is more important than ever before. The key to sales in today’s technology-filled business environment is to provide every prospect and client with VALUE every step of the way throughout the sales process but most definitely during the follow-up portion of that process.

There can’t be anything worse to get from a salesperson than a voicemail or an email that’s the typical “I just wanted to check-in on that proposal we had sent you a few weeks ago” or “Hey Mr. Customer it’s Brian again from The Pavement Group I wanted to check in and see if you had any time available yet to talk.” If you don’t have something VALUABLE to say to the client or prospect, then why would they feel the need to talk to you? If they had made a decision on their proposal already, they probably would have called you. If you’re calling prospects or clients using the example statements above, you sound desperate. You might as well be calling the client and just asking them for money.

On the flip side, if you have information that is VALUABLE to the prospect or client, then they will be far more inclined to take your call. Imagine if you left a prospect a voicemail stating that you did something for the client that would make them look really great to their boss and that you wanted to share that information with them. How fast would they call you back? Probably a lot faster than the previous example.

Last but certainly not least, I want to explain to you how entertaining follow-up will produce record-setting results beyond your wildest dreams. Technology has had such an unbelievable impact on businesses over the past 20 years and one of the biggest impacts that I have seen is the changes in all the different forms of communication. 20 years ago, the options were far less on how we communicated than they are today. I would highly encourage you to be using every method of communication that is available to you in order to create an ENTERTAINING follow-up experience for your clients. Whether you’re using your smartphone to record selfie videos of yourself talking to the client and showing your excitement about the opportunity you have to do business with them or sending a prospect that hasn’t called you back a meme of a skeleton sitting on a bench that says “just sitting here waiting for Brian to call me back”, creating a memorable follow-up is the way to not only close deals but to also build real relationships that last the test of time.

The art of follow-up is without a doubt the path to success in any sales position. I hope that you take the information in this chapter to heart and create a disciplined approach to your follow-ups that makes the process fun and entertaining both for you and for your customers.

Think about the amount of time and money that is invested into a prospect or a customer by the time they receive a proposal. In my business, there is probably on average around 3+ hours invested just to generate a proposal. The thought of not following up on that proposal to make sure that we get an answer…even if that answer is NO seems crazy…but it happens far more often than it should.

Create a higher level of success than those around you by following these steps to ensuring that you’re executing on the most rewarding step of the sales process properly and you will be on your way to out-performing and out-earning everyone around you in any sales position you choose.