How to Follow Up on Sales Leads: A comprehensive guide to boost sales
The default answer to “I have something to sell you, please give me your money!” is “Thanks, but I’ll pass.”
Your potential customers are bombarded with hundreds of proposals a year trying to get them to spend on things they don’t need.
As a result, they’ve developed a talent for ignoring most of the sales messages they get. Add to that the natural human tendency to hesitate and think twice about important decisions, especially when it comes to spending big bucks.
All these obstacles are affecting the sales performance of genuine businesses trying to improve their industries by offering helpful solutions.
But we have good news!
You can actually differentiate your company from the rest, reduce friction, and improve your sales performance if you develop a killer follow-up strategy.
In today’s guide, you’ll learn:
- What are sales leads?
- 9 tips to follow up with sales leads effectively
- Expert lessons to improve your follow-up strategy
What Are Sales Leads?
A sales lead is any potential client who might be interested in your company’s products and services but still hasn’t converted. They have a daily challenge that you can solve, which makes them fit to work with your company.
Sales leads enter your sales cycle after interacting with your brand. Then they move gradually down the funnel until they convert and become loyal customers.
To assess a lead’s level of interest, companies have to establish contact and maintain it through personalized offers and relevant messaging. Sales development representatives must follow up through different channels — including email, phone, and social media — to capture leads’ interest and encourage them to take action.
How to Follow Up On Sales Leads Effectively
60% of customers say “No” more than four times before finally agreeing to a deal. And 80% of sales require up to five follow-up attempts before closing. (As per Invesp)
If that tells us one thing, it should be this:
Following up makes all the difference when it comes to sales. You can generate the most qualified leads and hire the best SDRs out there, but if you don’t follow up, your numbers will always struggle.
So, how do you follow up with leads efficiently?
1. Follow Up Regularly
Let’s face it:
You’re targeting busy decision-makers who have lots of high-priority tasks on their list. They have a full schedule of important duties to make their customers happy and keep up with the competition. Besides, they don’t really know who you are and are yet to fully trust the effectiveness of your solutions.
Therefore, it’s only natural for them not to respond to your first, second, or even third outreach attempt. But that’s when consistency comes into play.
Consistency is a huge factor in determining the success of your sales strategy. Regular follow-ups are one of the surest ways to increase engagement, boost conversions, and establish stronger relationships with potential leads.
There’s a fine line between reaching out nicely and pushing too hard to the point where you come off as spammy. So it’s crucial to only contact targeted prospects with relevant messaging and offers. Also, make sure to space out your outreach attempts a few days or weeks apart to give prospects enough time to respond.
2. Reach Out Through The Right Medium
There are many ways you can follow up with potential prospects and get them interested in your business. But the ideal medium is one that guarantees that your messages are seen, read, and responded to.
The best channels to reach out to your leads are:
- Social platforms (especially LinkedIn)
- Text messages
There are expert tips to keep in mind depending on the contact approach you’re going to apply.
You’ll follow up more efficiently if you:
- Keep your messages short and on-point to trigger quick responses or enhance interest without being annoying.
- Personalize your outreach by offering free valuable resources and promoting relevant products or services
- Always consider the best time to send your messages to make sure they don’t get buried.
- Include strong calls-to-action (CTAs) to encourage your prospects to respond and take the desired action.
3. Automate your follow-ups
Did you know that you can automate everything in your follow-up strategy and still maintain amazing results?
Automating your follow-up strategy is an excellent way to enhance brand awareness, improve responses, and convert more leads. It also helps you guarantee that none of your leads will get lost. But the best part about this is that you’ll actually be saving your sales team time and effort while also lowering your costs.
Your options for email automation software are endless with dozens of available tools offering diverse features. There’s a wide range of alternatives to choose from based on your needs and the possibility of integration with other services.
Many automation tools will allow you to segment your leads as you wish and create multiple email sequences with different templates. You’ll also be able to personalize each email to increase open rates and get more positive responses.
4. Follow Up in the Right Context
Tracking the first interaction a lead has with your business is critical in determining how you should follow up. For instance, the leads you generate through your website should be approached differently from those you get from social media or paid ads.
The level of interest and awareness should also affect your initial outreach. A lead who understands your product doesn’t need to know more about what you’re offering. However, a potential customer that doesn’t even realize they have a problem must first understand what they’re dealing with.
After understanding where your prospects sit in the pipeline, you can send them personalized triggers to move them further down the funnel. You’ll do a better job nurturing your leads if you offer them information they actually want to hear.
5. Track Your Leads Using a CRM
A customer relationship management (CRM) software will make your sales representatives’ lives a whole lot easier. It will improve their insight and allow them to prioritize hot leads — but without neglecting cold and warm leads.
You’ll be able to manage your long list of prospects more closely without losing any important details throughout the sales cycle. You’ll track how different prospects are engaging with your sales team and segment them properly. And you’ll maintain a detailed history of their every lead interaction for better communication.
All of these are crucial features for improving your follow-up game and ensuring that you’re sending the right message to the right prospect at the right time.
6. Measure Your Performance For Better Scaling
No matter how good your results are, there’s always a way up. Your follow-up strategy will always be a work in progress as long as your metrics can improve.
There isn’t a universal follow-up plan that all companies must apply to close more deals. It takes a lot of testing and learning to make well-informed decisions and improve your sales numbers.
Before you can boost your metrics, you need to have actual data to set realistic objectives and compare your numbers to industry benchmarks. So that’s when performance tracking becomes a necessity.
To evaluate the performance of your follow-up strategy, you must set tangible key performance indicators (KPIs) that actually matter. For example, you can measure follow-up call attempts, email open rates, email response rates, click-through rates, etc.
Once you have that, you can start comparing different campaigns and outreach methods to identify which ones work best. It’s impossible to come up with a perfect formula, so you should always split test different variables and analyze your results.
You can try new subject lines in your email follow-ups over an extended period of time before comparing outcomes. You may also test anything from the best CTAs, calling times, offers, elevator pitch, etc.
7. Engage Your Prospects In Conversations
A common mistake lots of sales teams make is trying to dominate the discussion as soon as they get the chance. They prepare a sales pitch and rehearse it without giving their potential customers a chance to express their needs.
But in reality…
A conversation is a two-way street that enables both you and your prospects to learn about each other. It gives the two parties a chance to be heard, ask questions, and communicate answers with no pressure.
Your leads will appreciate the personalized approach that makes you treat them as individuals. And they’ll love that you’re not pushing to sell them anything from the start.
Once your prospects feel valued and understood, they’ll be ready to commit at the end of the conversation and take any action you desire.
8. Build Stronger Personal Relationships Using Less Formal Channels
Let’s be honest:
Unless they were born yesterday, your target clients have probably received thousands of irrelevant business proposals via traditional mediums. So, it’s only reasonable for them to develop resistance against these channels and ignore them altogether.
What can you do about that?
Stand out by approaching things differently from your competitors.
Text messages have been a successful way for companies to contact and qualify their prospects. It’s especially a stronger follow-up technique when used as part of a multi-channel approach with email and phone calls.
Personalized social media messaging is also a brilliant way to steal the show and stay on top of your prospects’ minds. You’ll see great results if you reach out to decision-makers directly with a custom message that shows that you’ve done your homework.
9. Create and Reuse High-Converting Email Templates
Email templates are a great way to decrease workload and maintain good results with follow-up outreach. You can create and optimize email sequence samples to maximize engagement with different prospects in your pipeline.
The best part?
You don’t have to be too creative or reinvent the wheel with email marketing. What’s working now can still work for long years to come if you don’t misuse it.
Here are a few tips to help you create high performing email follow-up templates:
- Reuse captivating subject lines that get you high open rates
- Personalize email first lines to grab your prospect’s attention
- Promote relevant case studies based on the prospect’s challenges
- Ask the right questions depending on where each prospect is in the sales cycle
- Use strong CTAs that get you high click-through rates and response rates
Email templates and personalization should walk hand in hand with performance tracking to guarantee maximum results. Test different subject titles, opening lines, case studies, questions, and CTAs — then reuse them in your email templates to boost your metrics.
Expert Tips to Improve Your Follow-Up Strategy
Here are four expert-driven tips to take your follow-up strategy to the next level:
Use Multiple Channels Simultaneously
A multi-channel approach is your best bet to engage prospects effectively and close deals faster. You’ll do a better job qualifying potential leads more effectively if establish multiple touch points using email, phone calls, and social media simultaneously.
Using CRMs and marketing automation tools, you’ll be able to manage the whole follow-up process easily while saving your sales team time. More importantly, the results of your outreach campaign will go through the roof with no additional effort on your behalf.
Collect and Analyze Data for Qualified Vs. Rejected Leads
No matter how much you think you know about your ideal clients, collected data will always have more things to reveal. Even the most qualified sales teams out there are still discovering new things about their target leads every day.
You’ll learn a lot about your prospects and how you should communicate with them by analyzing your numbers. Compare your results for qualified and rejected leads to identify the things you did wrong and how you can improve.
Follow-Up Consistently Until You Get a Response, But Don’t Over Do It
Depending on how you generate interest in your brand, a high-quality lead could cost your business hundreds of dollars. Add to that the time your sales team spends analyzing lead profiles and coming up with a plan to convert them.
You can’t abandon a prospective client just because they didn’t respond once or twice. As we said earlier, it takes salespeople more than five follow-up attempts to finally close a deal. That’s why it’s crucial for your SDRs to give each lead the benefit of the doubt and keep trying.
A potential customer has every right and reason to stall and not respond quickly. They may have a busy schedule over an extended period of time. Or perhaps they need to discuss the decision in a meeting with other company managers.
Because of that, you should always space out your outreach over days or weeks so that you don’t irritate or put off any prospects.
Prepare to Breakup if Things Don’t Work Out
What if a lead wasn’t busy but just didn’t have enough interest in your offers?
Some prospects do not have a really good reason not to respond except that they’re not interested. Others may be too nice to tell you that they don’t need your solution.
If your outreach attempts have all been ignored by a potential prospect, remove them from your lead list to save yourself precious time. This will free up your sales team to focus on better-fit leads who might be dying to work with you.
The break-up message is the final outreach attempt you make to inform the prospect that you’ll no longer be contacting them. It ends on a positive note and leaves the door open for anyone to contact you if they change their mind.
How do you know when it’s a good time to break up?
There’s no universal answer to this question, and it depends a lot on the context. In most cases, you should stop reaching out after six ignored outreach attempts — especially if:
- The lead isn’t qualified in the first place
- The potential client isn’t interested in your products and services
- The lead asks you directly to stop reaching out to them
- The prospect has stopped responding to any outreach attempt for weeks/months despite initial interest