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When you’re trying to close the sale, your hard work doesn’t stop once you leave the meeting with your prospect. You should stay in touch until they decide to take the plunge and buy your product or service. I’ve noticed that business owners often struggle with follow-ups to make a sale, but following up on a contact on an ongoing basis is what will turn a lead into a customer at the end of the day.
If you don’t make the extra effort to reach out via email, phone, or text, but your competition does, they’ll close the sale instead of you. To avoid this and land the sale yourself, there are three keys to follow to ensure you stay on top of leads and follow up with potential customers so they can buy from you.
Related: 7 bulletproof strategies to increase sales and make more money
Leads that convert to customers are the foundation of your business. When I work with entrepreneurs, I often hear them talk about problems converting contacts into full leads that make a purchase. Over the years I’ve noticed a pattern: the entrepreneur first contacts a potential lead and then… nothing! They either wait for the contact to get back to them, or they send just one email to remind the contact to collaborate. That is it.
While some sales are very simple and the contact only needs a small nudge to become a customer, others require many touchpoints. However, many entrepreneurial companies aren’t set up to follow up more than once – and, to be honest, many entrepreneurs aren’t aware that they should keep in touch until they get a definitive answer.
It’s time to create an actionable plan for your business to use to follow up on every lead that is repeatable, scalable and actually converts. That’s why I’ve put together three pieces of advice below to help you learn when to follow up, how to communicate in a follow up, and how to automate the process.
Related: 5 secrets to mastering sales follow-up
1. Do your homework
When is the busiest time of day for your lead? What is their preferred contact method? For example, if you work with a restaurant, it’s probably a good idea not to contact them during the lunch rush about making a sale, and if the restaurant owner never checks their emails, it’s best to call them to follow up upwards. All of these data points are part of the homework you should be doing when working with a potential lead. You want to make it as easy as possible for them to say yes to the sale!
In addition to researching your potential lead’s business, you can also do some homework on the competition to better pitch your sale. Find out what else is offered in the same niche and learn about the differences. Hype up what makes your business different and why the lead should choose you.
For example, if you work as a freelance virtual assistant and offer your services to a potential client, make sure to highlight what makes you different and how that helps the lead grow their business. You may find that the industry standard is for virtual assistants to only work with a certain kind of company, but you work with a lot of different companies so your experience is more varied than your competition – it’s good to know that so you can pitch it for your customer as positive.
2. Discard the script
Always send a message after your meetings. There are plenty of examples online that you can use as templates, but don’t copy them one to one (and don’t forget to change the name of the example company to your own company name!). In addition to needing a company’s services, people also choose salespeople they get along with – or as the kids say these days, they choose people they vibe with.
Sending a canned script that isn’t written in your own voice and doesn’t highlight things you connected to a lead in your chats won’t close a sale. Use online examples as an outline, then flesh out follow-up posts with your own personality.
Related: 7 ways to close more sales
3. Take advantage of technology
Okay, so you’ve had your first meetings with your new potential lead and you’ve exchanged a few messages back and forth. Now it’s time to continuously follow up to keep the idea of a sale ahead of your lead. Entrepreneurs wear many hats and it can be hard to remember to follow up on every lead.
Don’t reinvent the wheel — use technology to automate the process! You can unsubscribe a few emails/texts that can be sent automatically. When calling, use some kind of calendar system that sends you reminders to call the person. You don’t have to try to keep all that information in your head or try to track it down on a little sticky note that you lost somewhere in your office.
Remember, don’t work harder, work smarter! The key point is that you need to create some kind of plan to work on planned outreach with every potential lead that comes through the door (be it virtual or in-person), and that plan should be easy to execute internally for your company. but also externally for your brand new customer.