Create a Lead Follow Up System for Home Business Success
Tips to Following Up With Prospects
It takes a lot of work to generate leads and turn them into qualified prospects. It’s harder still to convert them into clients or customers. Unfortunately, many home business owners give up on their prospects too early in the sales cycle. If the lead doesn't buy on the first contact, many give up. But HubSpot has some interesting statistics on sales success including 44 percent of sales people give up after one follow up, but 80 percent of sales are made after five follow ups. If you knew you could make a sale if you reached out to your prospect five times, would you do it?
The reality is that few leads are "hot" in that they're ready to buy on the initial contact. Many will be warm leads; people who are interested and in will buy in the future. And of course, some are cold leads, that won't buy at all. The challenge is being able to weed out the warm leads from the cold ones. That's where a follow-up system can help.
Here is a list of tools and tactics you can use to create an effective follow up system for sales success.
Follow Up Tools
Contact Relation Management: The very best tool in your follow up arsenal is a contact management system. A CRM not only allows you to record your contacts’ information, including important tidbits such as birthdays. But also, you can track results of follow up contacts, as well as have automatic alerts to remind you to reach out for follow up.
Spreadsheet and Calendar: If you’re not ready to invest in a CRM system, you can create your own. With a spreadsheet, you can document your clients’ information and follow up notes. With a calendar that includes an alarm, you can schedule your follow ups including reminders.
Email: Email is an excellent way to stay in touch with your prospects. With a combination of an autoresponder, as well as sending personalized messages to your prospect, you can build trust and a relationship with your prospects.
Telephone: Many people are afraid of the phone, but it’s one of the most effective ways to make a personal connection with your prospect.
Snail Mail: Don’t underestimate the power of a personal note. Fewer and fewer people use paper to send cards and notes, which means you’ll stand out in the crowd if you do. Thank you notes, in particular, can go a long way to enticing a prospect to buy from you.
Follow Up System
Your follow up system will depend much on how the lead enters your sales funnel. One advantage of an email sales funnel is that it can be set up to send emails automatically. This allows you to make several contacts without much work on your part. However, it can be difficult to rely on email alone to make a sale, especially if you provide a service or have a big ticket item.
Leads may come to you other ways as well, such as at a networking event or through a referral. However they come to you, you want to set up a system through which you track and move them through your sales cycle.
- Send a thank you email immediately: If the lead comes through email, have a welcome or thank you email go out right away to anyone who fills in your lead form. If you met your lead at an event send an email or better yet call (#2) within 12 to 24 hours.
- Call within 12 to 24 hours: People don’t want to hire or spend a lot of money with you without talking to you and getting their questions answered. Research shows that the sooner you call, the increased chance you’ll get the sale.
- Qualify your lead: Don’t waste time on people who won’t ever buy from you. When you make your call, qualify the lead by making sure he has the motivation, means, and permission to buy. In some cases, a lead will meet a couple qualifications, but isn’t able to buy at this time. In that case, he needs to go into your follow up system.
- Schedule a Follow Up call: Most people won’t buy on the first contact, so make an appointment to follow up. Provide whatever your prospect needs to make a decision, whether that is more information, a quote, or time, and make an appointment to call back.
- Send a thank you note: Ideally, this should be a handwritten, snail-mailed note, but at the very least, you can send an email.
- Send an email reminder about follow up call: Some people don’t want to do this because they’re afraid the prospect will skip the call if he’s reminded of it. On the other hand, it’s a waste of time if your prospect forgot about the call and isn’t there.
- Make a follow up call: During this call, you want to review the information you sent to the prospect, and answer any new questions. It doesn’t hurt to finish with a buy pitch or call to action. Many people won’t buy until you ask them to make the order. If the prospect still isn’t ready, or has objections, you want to repeat previous steps in terms of sending new information.
- Put prospect into long-term follow up: If the prospect still isn’t ready to buy, put them into your long term system. This should be a combination of email and phone follow up that are frequent enough to keep your business in the prospect’s mind, but not so often that you’re annoying. If the prospect isn’t already on your email list, ask if you can add him and tell him the benefits of being on the list. Finally, use information you got during qualifying or follow up contacts to schedule personal contacts, such as sending a birthday card.
Tips About Working With Prospects
- Focus on benefits. People buy because you’re going to solve a problem or somehow benefit them. They don’t care how great you are, the only care how you can help them. So pay attention to what they’re saying they need, and tailor your sales pitch and follow up contacts to how you can benefit them.
- Don’t rely on soft touch marketing tactics to make a sale. Sure, a low-cost book or email course might sell through an email autoresponder series, but for a service-based business or larger ticket items, you need to make direct contact through phone or in-person conversation. Include personalized contacts every so often.
- Give a personal touch. Email and other systems are helpful in delivering follow up information, but people who hire or buy from you want to feel like you know them. That requires that you give a personal touch, which can be a phone call, a card or other item that can’t be automated and instead requires you reach out to them specifically.
- Keep track of what your prospects tell you in your CRM system. This will help you create a prospect-centered pitch, but also give you clues for great follow up ideas. For example, if your prospect says he’s running in a 5K, you can send a card urging him on. If he says he’s having trouble with something and you see a great article about it, you can email a link to it.
- Ask for referrals. In many cases, your prospect may not be ready to buy, but he may know someone who is. So don’t be afraid to ask for referrals.
- Remove prospects from your follow up if asked to do so. Anyone who says stop calling or emailing isn’t going to change their mind about you if you keep contacting them. Thank them for their consideration and then remove them from your list.