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Acquiring new customers is the first sign of business growth of any type of   small to medium enterprise. However, the fact is that many small business owners do not possess the skill of following up on sales leads. Generating leads is not enough; you need to know the technique of following up on the leads to close a deal with a prospective customer. You can generate leads at a social gathering, trade-shows or network events specifically arranged for this purpose. Remember that effective networking can lead to concrete sales leads.

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The reasons small business owners state why they are unable to follow-up on the generated leads is that they don’t have enough qualified sales staff or they are finding it difficult to follow up when there are a lot of leads. This could be because they do not have a good system in place. Will Kinitish, a sales leads generation expert, opined that it is a shame to squander away opportunities for sales lead generation after a networking event

Two lethal mistakes most of the small business entrepreneurs (SMEs) make in following up on leads is not showing the sense of urgency and not being persistent. “The quality of the prospect goes down significantly as time passes from their request for information,” says Tom Black, author of The Boxcar Millionaire and founder of Tom Black Center for Excellence.

Three Types of People you have to Handle

If you want to be a successful sales person, you must have the skill to handle three types of people -

1. Suspects – they are your target audience. You have to skillfully handle this type of people and entice them to visit your store. Suspects are unwilling to give you their contact details. Follow up here is sometimes not possible.

2. Prospects – those who have responded to your marketing. However, they have not purchased your goods/services. Persuade them to make their first purchase. If they are interested in your product they will give you their contact details.

3. Customers – those who have already purchased goods/services from you. Convince them to give you more business. Here you can also ask them to give you referrals.

Follow up Marketing Tools

Telephone, email and mailing address are your marketing tools. If you have the email address/mailing address, make a follow up using these tools. The reason is many prospects don’t like to entertain pushy sales telephone calls. This is the mistake you should avoid. Develop trust between you and your prospects by emailing or mailing them your brochures, audio CDs or videos. This is the step that has to be taken before making a phone call. In fact your brochures and informational CDs should lure them to make a phone call. Remember, when someone is investing on a highly priced item, they take their very own sweet time. Here is where you should help them take the crucial step by enticing them with an irresistible offer.

Follow up Sequence

The success of your follow up will depend on your follow up sequence. Once the prospect makes an enquiry, you should respond immediately. The power of your follow up lies in the way your follow up sequences are linked. Your follow up emails or mails should remind the potential customer that you care about them. Your conversations should be styled in such a manner that they should never realize that you’re pressurizing them into buying your goods/services. Your communications should always be linked to the previous ones, and use a language that entices the prospective buyer to make an affirmative decision eventually.

Follow up Phone call

Once you have educated your prospect with the necessary details, give them time to call you. Else you give a call. If you are using only telephone as your marketing tool, then you should pick a specific time each day to make the sales call. The survey conducted by insidesales.com reports that Wednesdays and Thursdays are the best days to contact your prospects while Tuesday is the worst day of the working week to make a sales call.

Another noteworthy point is that you should actually plan how to respond to the queries of your prospects. Planning a script will help you in being consistent in your communication. Also ensure that you are knowledgeable about all the products that your company deals with. The reason is that the prospect would like to get an idea about other products that you deal as well and at times if you are lucky you might end up selling more than one type of product.

The closing rate of a sales deal will depend on how good you are at handling the follow up leads. Having a systematic approach in place will ensure success.

If you have more to add, please share your points on how to be the best in following up on sales leads.

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