How to Follow Up With Sales Leads: 8 Best Practices to Land More Clients
It’s go time! Your marketing campaigns have paid off and you’ve been inundated with fresh leads to hopefully turn into sales. That last part hinges on your ability to strategically and effectively follow up on those leads without letting any fall by the wayside or scare them off by coming on too strongly. And effectively following up means doing so multiple times. According to Marketing Donut, 80% of sales leads require five follow-ups after the initial contact, but only 8% of salespeople actually follow up this many times.
Five times may sound like a lot, but if you approach your leads in the right manner, you can effectively communicate the right messaging to them that puts you in their favor. In this post, we’re going to cover some tips on how to properly follow up with leads and increase your odds of turning them into repeat customers, including:
- Segment your leads
- Respond in a timely fashion
- Nurture leads with useful content
- Personalize your communication
- Use various communication channels
- Create a follow-up schedule
- Track communications
- Learn when to abandon lost causes
Sales lead follow-up best practices
As you may already know, it’s not only about when you follow up with your leads but also how you follow up with them. You need to consider their stage in your funnel, their pain points and needs, and the timing of your communication. Here are some best practices to help you effectively follow up with sales leads and prospects to win more business.
1. Segment your leads
Each type of lead will require a different level of messaging. Depending on how the lead came to you, it may be hot and ready to close or may need a bit of warming. For example, a lead that comes to you by way of an email opt-in campaign as opposed to a lead that filled out a ‘contact me’ form on your webpage are at different points in the sales funnel and should be approached accordingly.
Organize the leads into at least three groups: Hot, warm, and cold. Seems a bit remedial, but trust us, you’ll want to take note of the leads’ temperatures so that you don’t treat them like one size fits all.
If you’re interested in doing a more robust lead scoring initiative, there are software programs available that will separate your leads based on point values you assign to various consumer behaviors. Move leads from group to group as you get to know them better and move them closer to becoming a paying client.
2. Respond in a timely fashion
Arrange for a thank you or welcome email or phone call to be made within 12-24 hours after a lead comes in. Offer to answer any questions they may have to demonstrate the care and attention you provide to each customer.
3. Nurture your leads with useful content
As is the case with any form of communication with your audience members, no matter what stage of the funnel they’re in, you should always focus on adding value. Blog posts, infographics, helpful stats, success stories, and downloadable guides are all great options. Your leads aren’t going to become customers after one interaction, so focus on nurturing the lead, or “warming” them. Rather than trying to get them to act in the form of converting into a customer, focus on smaller steps, like downloading that guide or visiting that blog post.
4. Personalize your communication
As you can see in the email example above, it’s a good idea to personalize your correspondence by including the recipient’s name in your emails, sending them information based on the pages visited on your website, or responding personally to an online inquiry instead of pushing canned responses.
5. Use various communication channels
Leads have a preferred way of communicating and quite frankly, you have no idea what that is at this point. Use social media, email, snail-mail, and phone calls to connect with potential clients.
We don’t mean to reach out directly using every single communication tool you have! Just be sure that you’re readily available no matter your lead’s preferred medium. So, respond to social media messages quickly, answer your phone and return calls promptly, and check your inbox.
Here are a few of the communication methods you may try out:
Email: Emails are slightly less invasive than phone calls, and give the lead the opportunity to read and respond at their convenience. Yet given how many emails we get each day, the chances of your email getting lost in the shuffle are high, so it’s important to follow up more than once. In your follow-ups, be sure to use intriguing and appropriate subject lines, and to offer useful content rather than just pitching your offerings.
Phone: Phone call conversations are a great way to show your prospect your expertise and demonstrate that you want what’s best for them. However, you don’t have the phone equivalent of an email subject line to catch your prospect’s attention. In fact, you have the opposite--a foreign number appearing on their phone. With the phone call approach, it’s important that you nail down your voicemail message so that you give your prospect a reason to call you back. Like emails, you’ll also need to call more than once.
Text message: Sending text messages may be better for leads with whom you’ve already communicated. Pay close attention to your conversations with them and base your follow up texts on those needs.
6. Create a follow-up schedule
Remember, it typically requires 7-10 touches before a conversion happens. Creating a follow-up schedule will ensure you remain consistent with your communications and prevent you from letting the leads you worked so hard to attain fall through the cracks. Your communications calendar should aim to keep you top of mind with your leads but not become a nuisance.
For example, your schedule might look like this:
- Emails: once per week
- Phone calls: once per month
- Face to face: once per quarter
Anything more than that and you run the risk of getting the brush off.
7. Track communications
If you have a CRM (contact/customer relation management) system, you’re way ahead of the game. CRM’s allow you to keep a record of all customer outreach and the results of those communications. If you don’t have a CRM, no worries – that’s what Excel is for! Simply create a spreadsheet that includes your prospects’ contact information and notes regarding the dates and methods used to nurture those leads.
8. Learn when to abandon lost causes
Qualifying your leads is a very important step and should be done as early as possible. Don’t get trigger happy and abandon leads because they may take a bit of work to close, but be smart about what you’re chasing down. Three qualifying categories to consider:
- Do they have the means to make a purchase?
- Are they motivated?
- Are they the decision-maker?
If you discover they’re not qualified at this time, don’t toss their info! Put them in a "to be followed up with later" file and create a campaign to target those leads which you’ve put on the back burner down the road when their circumstances may have changed.
Follow up with your sales leads the right way
Lead prospecting is all about remaining in front of your clients without getting on their bad side … a sort of omnipresence, if you will. Your goal shouldn’t necessarily be to convince them to buy, but rather to be there when they’re ready to buy. This type of reliability bodes well for your brand and makes those leads feel respected and valued. What better way to cultivate your customer base than that?