5 Sales Follow Up Mistakes We See All The Time

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Ask many agencies and you will come away with the impression that lead generation is the Holy Grail. Sales is almost a dirty word – something that will take care of itself when the leads come in. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. Lead generation is essential, but only a tiny minority of these leads will convert to customers on their own.

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A sales follow-up programme is necessary to convert the largest number into customers. This can be conducted by phone, email or in person. Unfortunately, this is the area in which many businesses make mistakes. Here are some of the most common ones:

1) The… Slow… Follow… Up…

Received sales wisdom is that the polite thing to do is give your prospects sufficient time to digest your marketing literature and make an informed purchase decision. Sales people are terrified of appearing pushy by following up too soon. However, a common mistake is leaving it too long. Prospects are busy people: if you pique their interest with your marketing literature, by the time you get around to following up the lead they may have forgotten who you are, or chosen a competitor’s service. By understanding your prospects you need to establish a sweet spot that gives them space but doesn’t allow them to cool off too much.

Yes, purchase decisions take time, especially for high value purchases and where more than one stakeholder needs buy in. But the hands off approach is not the way to go. Support your prospects to make a purchase decision by encouraging engagement from all stakeholders and providing enough information to present a sound business case. By this you position yourself as an expert company who can be trusted.

2) Waiting For The Prospect To Approach You

Some businesses treat their inbound marketing strategy as if they were fluttering their eyelids to somebody across a bar, expecting the other person to make the move. You might get lucky, but in most cases it’s not going to happen. If you want to convert a prospect into a customer, it is you who needs to do the walking.

3) Taking The Wrong Approach To Objections/Responses

A prospect rarely agrees to a sale straightaway. It is natural that people have questions and objections, so a key part of the sales process is to learn how to respond to objections. This is also one of the main areas in which conversions fall down, because instead of engaging with the prospects, the salesperson compounds the objection by going on the defensive, creating an antagonistic dialogue.

For instance, a common objection is that the service or product is too expensive. A response might be to go over in additional detail all the features and benefits of your service – but this won’t persuade anybody if they’ve already decided they can’t afford it. From thereon in you will both be talking at cross purposes. A better approach would be to disarm the prospect and move the conversation along by asking them why they feel the service is unaffordable.

4) Chatting Too Much

When communicating with a prospect, whether by phone or digitally, remember the golden rule of communication: you have two ears and one mouth. Use them in that proportion. A dreary monologue from a salesperson will switch most people off. Listen to what a prospect has to say and engage them in a serious dialogue from the outset. People are more likely to want to do business with people they feel respect and understand them.

5) Referring To Sales Emails Or Promotions

Many sales are lost in the first few seconds thanks to a bad opening line that refers back to marketing literature:

“I’m just making a quick call about the email/Facebook ad/brochure we sent last week. I wondered if you’d had a chance to look at it and if you had any questions?”

Sound familiar? This is a terrible way to start a conversation because the prospect will either say;

  • “No, I didn’t receive it”, in which case you’ll be forced to chat through the whole thing in tedious detail, or they’ll say
  • “Yes thanks, we’ll be in touch if we are interested”, effectively closing the discussion.

How To Not Make A Mess Of Your Conversions

These bloopers aside, the biggest sales follow up mistakes are to not follow up a lead at all, or to do so inconsistently. Your greatest ally when converting prospects to customers is demographic data and behavioural knowledge. It helps to know who your customers are, what makes them tick and why they might be attracted your business in the first place. It also helps to understand their behaviour regarding your content, e.g. how many times have they opened a particular email, or what sort of blog posts do they keep coming back to?

At JDR we move beyond lead generation towards helping you optimise your conversion rate. This involves adopting a strategic approach to following up sales and getting new customers through the door. To find out more, please get in touch today by phone or email.

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