Are you giving good follow up?

I ask because you don’t have to be a sales expert to use this very simple strategy to increase your sales.

If you take a look at this chart* then you will see that the majority of sales are not closed on the first, second, third or even fourth contact with the customer – rather they are closed somewhere between the fifth and the twelfth. Although this statistic will, of course, vary between sectors and markets, it’s not a bad average to be working with.

So what counts as follow up? Well the main choices are:

  • Face to face
  • Telephone
  • Email
  • Social media
  • Direct mail
  • Handwritten notes
  • Free samples

Bearing in mind there’s nothing super-complicated here, why is it that we sometimes find it so hard to follow up? Well, the main reasons are:

  1.  “I’m waiting for them to respond” (in other words you are being passive instead of proactive)
  2.  “I don’t want to be a pain” (you have a negative view of salespeople yourself and, because your overriding desire is to be liked, you don’t want to seem pushy)
  3.  “It will annoy them” (they are a bit scary and you don’t want to be shouted at)

BUT….what if you just keep going until you do get a response? Think about it – they will either tell you to stop (which isn’t great but at least you won’t be wasting your time with them) or they will use you (which is definitely great!)

If you have a plan, then everything is a lot easier. So try this:

  1. Have a strategy – decide how many times you are going to follow up and stick to it
  2. Use an automated system as soon as you can afford it to send out email correspondence
  3. Vary your approach and use the different contact methods above – some always work better than others and don’t forget people are unique, so your customers may prefer one method over another
  4. Don’t turn into a stalker (ringing someone 10 times a day or turning up on their doorstep unannounced is not acceptable)
  5. Keep it short and get to the point fast – your customers are busy and don’t want to have their time wasted
  6. Provide value – give potential customers suggestions, tips or share articles of interest.
  7. Assume they are just busy – in other words, if you have to keep chasing a potential customer, remember it is nothing personal

So go on, give it a go and this could be one of the most effective things you ever do.

Janet is an award-winning sales trainer based in Enfield, North London and specialises in teaching small businesses and entrepreneurs how to sell more. Find out more about Tadpole Training open courses here

  • chart is from Ring DNA, based on A survey conducted by the National Sales Executive Association.
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