Real numbers — obtained from robust surveys — have shown time and again that following up after initial contact with a prospect is vital to closing a sale.
Numbers show 35-50% of sales go to the first vendor to contact them when the prospect is ready to buy, and 42% of people feel encouraged to purchase if the sales rep has followed up the right way. This can be as simple as calling back at an agreed-upon time.
The Cost of Not Following Up
Not following up on a sales prospect is leaving money on the table. Only 2% of sales materialize on the first contact. The numbers do not improve much on the second or third contact, with only 3% and 5% of sales deals sealed, respectively.
It is only on the fourth contact that the number increases to 10%. However, four out of five sales occur only when the sales rep contacts the prospect between five and 12 times.
While these numbers speak volumes, numerous sales reps are either oblivious of the impact follow-ups can have on closing a deal, or they are simply reluctant to follow up multiple times — possibly due to repeated rejection or the fear that they are annoying the prospect.
If the prospect ignores their calls or emails, an estimated 44% of salespeople stop trying after just one attempt, while only 8% of salespeople will keep trying and follow up more than five times.
Giving up is counterintuitive to the way any market operates. At any given time, only 3% of any market is in its active buying mode. A large chunk, as high as 40% of the entire market, is poised to make a purchase — not now, but soon.
This is the segment that you onboard slowly and gradually over time through subsequent follow-ups, because at any moment that prospect could be ready to buy, and you want to be the first salesperson they talk to when they are.
How Do You Follow Up?
While following up is clearly essential to any sales methodology, how do you do it the right way? First of all, speed plays a crucial role. You are nine times more likely to convert a lead if you follow up within five minutes.
At the end of your first contact with a prospect, schedule a follow-up. If your first call ends on a conclusive note with your next call already scheduled, immediately send out a calendar invite for the follow-up call, along with a follow-up email that summarizes the discussion you just had and explains future proceedings.
Twenty-four hours before the follow-up call, send an email with call-in details.
If you don’t schedule a follow-up call on your first contact, still send a follow-up email with a summary of your first call and your prerogatives for the next call. Be sure to mention the hurdle that kept you from scheduling the next call on your first call. End the email by saying you will be in touch soon to arrange your next call.
Taking the right follow-up steps at the right time will help you close the sale, but it takes patience and persistence. Here is an infographic that further explains the importance of following up and the right way to do it.