No one likes to follow up. There’s always the fear of coming off too pushy or desperate. But the hard fact is: follow-ups are crucial in sales. They are simply a must. Especially in B2B sales, where customers will almost never initiate the purchase unless they’re extremely motivated to buy, sales reps must be persistent in following up.
And we don’t just mean once. A study notes that sales reps should make at least six follow-up calls before giving up on a prospect.
But there is really no reason to stress over a follow-up call. Most prospects do expect you to follow up. In fact, they will most likely be more surprised if you don’t. And if you don’t follow up, you will risk losing the deal. We’ve heard of customers who never made the purchase simply because the sales agent never followed up.
So you must follow up. But you must be smart in following up. For one, use multiple channels. Your sales cadence must be set up to include follow-ups via phone, email, social media, and when possible, in person, via meetings.
For this post, we focus on the sales call follow-up—and how you can nail making the call each time.
9 Ways to Nail the Sales Follow-up Call
1. Schedule the follow-up
We always say this whenever we talk about customer engagement: initiate the next step; don’t wait for the customer. (In fact—heads up!—we’re saying this again in this same post, towards the end.) So in doing this follow-up call, make sure that you’ve scheduled the call ahead with the client.
How and when? After making the initial call for discover or qualifying or after sending the email detailing your proposal, make sure to indicate what’s next: the follow-up. You can say, for example: “I’ll be glad to go over the proposal in detail with you. How is Tuesday 2pm or Wednesday 10am for you?” Keep it smooth and casual; you don’t want the prospect to feel pressured into taking the call. And try to get the client to commit to the schedule you agree on.
Doing this will make sure that you have the client’s attention. You’re not calling at an inopportune time; you’re calling with his permission. This way, the call becomes more productive. A day before the call, send the prospect a gentle reminder too, but reiterate that the call will be quick and painless.
2. Call on time
The follow-up call is a meeting, only not in person. So be prompt and call on time, not a minute late. It would be recommended that you set a reminder for the call, so you don’t forget. Sales reps are notoriously busy and meeting reminders are essential to stay on track.
3. State the value you offer
After you introduce yourself and exchange pleasantries (do ask the prospect, “How have you been?”), immediately state why you’re calling. No, you’re not calling to sell. You’re calling to provide value: whether it’s to offer a solution to the prospect’s problem or offer him something he needs and/or wants. So begin with a line that summarizes both: what the prospect wants or needs and what you offer. An example would be, “Last week, you mentioned your need to focus on expanding your franchise in two other locations and my proposal details two ways we can do that without greatly increasing your overhead and therefore protecting your bottom line.”
Not only is the statement strong and confident, which customers like, it’s also to the point, which customers also like. Whatever you do, don’t start with “I’m calling to follow up on the proposal I sent last week.” It’s weak, uninspired, and unnecessary—the prospect already knows that you’re calling to follow up.
4. Keep it concise
Try to keep the whole conversation short. You really only have a few minutes of the prospect’s time. So try to be concise when explaining. You can do this by planning ahead of the call. Have a list of bullet points of everything you need to discuss. Anticipate all possible questions from the prospect, and rehearse your answers.
5. Change up your spiels
It’s very possible that you will be following up more than once. You can’t have the same spiel each time. So try to provide new and valuable information each time you call or make contact. Maybe you can share the news of the latest client who has signed up for the same product or service you’re trying to sell the prospect. Or you can mention a new case study that’s relevant to the prospect’s business and share the link to that. Or perhaps you have an exciting offer: like a limited-time discount or package add-ons.
6. Try to stand out
You know that you are not the only sales rep trying to close a deal with the prospect, and so you want to stand out and be remembered. How do you do that? Touch base right after the follow-up call. Send an email soon after and thank the prospect for his time. Along with the thank you note, share something else: maybe a white paper that’s of use to the prospect, or a link to a blog post that he will appreciate. You can even go the extra mile and have a small token sent to his office. Taking that extra step to be noticed also means taking an extra step towards establishing rapport with the prospect.
7. Make an impression
Be polite, sincere, and friendly. But don’t be timid about showing a bit of your personality. The last thing you want to be is a polite, sincere, and friendly… robot. Be personable. You still want to keep the conversation fun and engaging. And again, you want to stand out and be remembered by the client.
8. Outline the next step
Before ending this touch point with client, outline the next step: whether that’s another phone call, an email, or a meeting in person. Book the next step with the prospect. “Thank you for this call, John. So you can gain a really tangible appreciation of the product, I can schedule a quick demo next week. How is Monday 3pm or Wednesday 9am for you?”
9. Ask for the sale
If you get a feeling that the sales call went really, really well, be brave and ask for the sale. It wouldn’t hurt, especially you do it properly. You can take your cue from the pros.
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