Research has proven time and time again that companies who implement a follow-up process into their sales and marketing strategy are more successful than those who don’t. Let’s allow this to sink in for a moment. Companies who implement a follow-up process are more successful than those who don’t. The reason is that follow-up is one of the three ingredients for sales success along with price and relationship. But it is one of the processes that most companies rarely implement or execute. Follow-up is crucial to seeing high conversion rates from potential customers or prospective clients to new customers. It is also key to solidifying your relationship with your existing customers. Follow-up enhances your company’s customer experience because it helps uncover and address your customer’s needs. Implementing an effective follow-up process, so that each sales professional knows when and how to reach out, can set your company ahead of your competition. In the sections that follow, we look exactly at how to do that.
Why it’s important to follow up
Statistics have shown that follow up is key not only to your marketing strategy but even more so to the sales process. According to invesp, 60% of customers say no four times before saying yes. But 48% of salespeople never even make a single follow-up attempt. Why? Some of the reasons are: They focus more on other sales activities and run out of time. It is not easy to reach a decision-maker at a prospective client company. Sales reps fear rejection. They run out of follow-up ideas or channels…
So, why is it important to follow up then? Follow-up is a service to enhance the customer experience and build up the customer relationship. You are in essence building customer satisfaction and retention from the ground up.
But in order for follow-up to have a positive effect, it must be done right. Follow-up goes right when it aims to understand the prospect’s pain points. When it provides value at each touch point, in other words, when it builds trust. Follow-up goes wrong when it is salesy or pushy or comes across as harassment (push vs, pull selling). In fact, it can alienate prospective customers. Think of drip campaigns that bombard you with unwanted emails every day. Decision makers at companies are busy. And, we, as sales professionals, need to respect their time. It begs the question; how does one follow up effectively? In the next sections we’ll look at strategies to implement a follow-up process and how a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system can assist you.
How to follow up
There are several different ways a business can follow up. These techniques aim to impress potential clients, enhance customer experience, and solidify relationships. In general, it is best to use a combination of these techniques, depending on where your prospect is in the customer journey, or how solid your relationship is with a current customer. Once you identify which techniques to use and when, it is pretty much a wash, rinse, and repeat cycle. Here are our 10 sales follow-up technique recommendations:
- Immediate prospect contact
- Following up on a proposal or estimate
- Asking for feedback
- Sharing information on the progress of a project
- Introducing new services, features, or special offers
- Asking for referrals
- Online engagement
- Prospect follow-up after networking
- Educational webinars and workshops
- Drip campaigns
1. Immediate prospect contact
Immediate contact is possibly the most important follow-up technique for converting prospects. Whenever possible, this immediate contact should be in the form of a phone call. When a sales rep calls a potential client immediately after they sent in a request or a product/service inquiry, they show that prospect how serious the company is and how fast it responds to customer needs. This phone call should ideally be made within 5 minutes. If the prospect doesn’t answer, salespeople should be encouraged to leave a message and follow-up with an email.
2. Following up on a proposal or estimate
Sending out a proposal or estimate and not following up on it is one of the biggest mistakes a sales team can make. This is true for prospects and for existing customers. This follow-up can be in the form of an email, sent out a few days (or weeks depending on industry) after the proposal has been submitted. It can be as simple as asking if the proposal was received, whether a decision has been made, if there are any questions, or if the price looks ok to the prospect or customer.
3. Asking for feedback
Asking for feedback is a great method to show a prospect or customer how important their opinion is to your company. Feedback can be asked for anything and everything. For example, the price on a proposal, progress on a project, a service that was completed, employee professionalism, a new product or material.
4. Sharing information on the progress of a project
This type of follow-up email is sure to deepen your relationship with your customer. Set a schedule of progress updates and an email template, so it’s easy for the sales team to fire these off. Whenever possible, try to combine progress status on all active projects with the customer so you don’t bombard them with too many emails. Perhaps the easiest way to schedule this type of follow-up is with a CRM system equipped with a follow-up calendar and tool.
5. Introducing new services, features, or special offers
When a company starts offering new services, features, or special offers it is a great opportunity to touch base with prospects and existing customers alike. Email marketing with a tool like HubSpot comes in handy with this type of follow-up. Or a sales CRM system with the capability of storing and mass emailing leads and customers.
6. Asking for referrals
Asking for referrals is one of the most tried and tested follow-up and growth techniques. It usually involves a special offer for the referring customer so the offer is more appealing. Once you complete a project with a customer, follow up with them as described at #2 above. If the feedback is positive, you can then ask for referrals.
7. Online engagement
Social media offers a great opportunity for online engagement with prospects and customers alike. Follow social media accounts of your potential clients and comment and like their posts to keep your company top of mind. You can mention customers in posts about successful or ongoing projects. Also, make sure you like, share, and comment on your customer’s posts that mention you.
8. Prospect follow-up after networking
Following up with a potential client you met at a networking event will help you solidify your relationship with them. Send a follow-up email shortly after the event and offer to continue the conversation to keep momentum. Connect with them on LinkedIn and follow any other social media accounts they may have.
9. Educational webinars and workshops
With an educational webinar or workshop, your sales team can build trust and rapport with potential clients and existing customers. They are great opportunities for the sales team to learn more about the customers and prospects needs, interests, and challenges. The most valuable webinars and workshops are conducted in a live online format with a Q&A session or open discussion.
10. Drip campaigns
Last on our list are drip campaigns. Not because they’re an ineffective follow-up method, but because they can backfire of not implemented correctly. Drip campaigns are email marketing campaigns set in such a way that your prospects receive an email message every once a week, every few days, or every day. Drip campaigns can result in a lot of unsubscribes if approached as a one-size-fits-all. To design a successful drip sequence, you need to thoroughly research your prospects’ interests, challenges, and needs and segment your prospect list as granularly as you can. Then design a drip campaign for each segment.
Best practices for effective customer follow-up
As we’ve seen so far, a well-defined follow-up process can benefit a small business or a large corporation. It helps increase prospective clients conversion, solidify customer relationships, and enhance the customer experience. So, what is the secret sauce to follow up? Again, it depends on where you are at in the customer journey. Are you following up with a potential customer, a new customer, or an existing customer? Below are some follow-up best practices for each.
Engage Potential Customers
Let’s assume a potential customer is someone you met at a networking event. Or who landed on your website and left contact details. Or you found them via a list you purchased and vetted. Once you have identified a strategy:
- Set up an email sequence over the course of X months. Read our article on email marketing and email subject line best practices to maximize the success of your campaign.
- Identify interest/engagement via your email provider metrics.
- Engage on social media channels.
- Ensure you have mechanisms in place (a form on your website) for prospects to contact you or leave their company name, phone number, and email address so you can make follow-up calls and send follow-up messages.
- Follow up with interested prospects via a phone call or email them to set up a F2F or online live meeting. Always leave a voicemail if your prospect doesn’t answer and follow-up that voicemail with an email.
Welcome New Customers
In this scenario, you have moved a prospect down the sales funnel. You find yourself in the sales pipeline with a new customer. And follow-up remains as important as before:
- Set up regular touch points with your customer.
- Request feedback through the entire sales cycle.
- Practice active listening and continue to provide value to the customer.
- Follow up on any concerns they express!
- Recognize your customer on social media with retweets, comments, or likes.
- Identify opportunities for further sales down the road.
Nurture Existing Customers
Be sure to follow up with existing customers on a regular basis too, even if it is just a voicemail you drop them. They are valuable sources for upselling and recommendations. You can use the company references on your website and in future marketing campaigns.
- Remain top of mind with regular follow-up calls and F2F appointments. Also show appreciation for their business with fun activities like a game of lunch or golf.
- Practice active listening and continue to provide value to the customer. Stay up to date on the customer company. For example, identify pain points they may have. If none, share industry news or new product info, but find talking points to stay engaged.
- Make introductions and connections for them. Remember they are also in sales!
- Follow and continue to engage with your customers on social media.
- Applaud existing customers on their achievements.
- Identify opportunities for further sales down the road through regular follow-up.
Build an effective follow-up strategy with tools and templates designed for the construction industry
A well-defined follow-up process is a chance to set your company ahead of your competition simply because most companies lack in this area. And the best way to implement and execute a successful follow-up process is with a CRM (customer relationship management).
If you are in the construction industry, your best option on the market is iDeal Construction CRM. It is built specifically to help construction companies manage leads, clients, opportunities, bids, and follow-up.
Here are the iDeal CRM features that will help you streamline your follow-up activities:
- Email templates – the system comes equipped with 25+ effective follow-up email templates that cover every technique mentioned earlier; you can also set up your own templates and easily design your prospecting, nurturing, and drip campaigns.
- Email automation tool – allows companies to schedule automatic emails that the system will send out; for example, three days after an estimate is sent, send out the proposal follow-up email.
- iDeal Follow-up tool – a proprietary, unique feature that allows you to send follow-up emails for multiple opportunities and clients at a time.
- Daily Notification Email – this great tool that highlights your daily schedule includes follow-up activities so you can be proactive.
- Sent emails summary page that shows open rates.
- Sales pipeline board – shows your current pipeline and opportunities in follow-up stages are sorted and prioritized by follow-up date.
- Bid and Follow-up Calendar – highlights follow-up dates and along with bids and all your other To Do’s.
- Follow-up Reports – activity reports and win rate reports play an important role in identifying what works and what doesn’t, and how much follow-up is required in order to win.
Construction companies who use iDeal CRM increase their closing rate and customer retention rate by at least 25%.With 100% positive customer feedback and a reputation for great customer service, iDeal CRM is the best solution on the market for construction companies.
- 10 Things a Great Follow-Up Tool Should Do
- Follow-Up Value Calculator
- Email Subject Line Best Practices
- Follow Up Email for Sales: Best Templates and Follow Up Email Examples
- Best 10 Sales Email Examples/Templates
- Key Sales Activities and Tips
- 10 Construction Marketing Ideas
- 10 Ways to Improve Construction Sales with a CRM
- CRM Data: 3 Ways to Use it to Grow Your Business