5 Ways to Improve Sales Lead Follow-Up

15 Jul, 2021 | Bill Peatman

There’s nothing more frustrating for salespeople that having leads that don’t respond to follow-up messages. Someone showed interest in your product by filling out a form requesting information, or leaving a voicemail message, or initiating a live chat. Then they go cold. What happened?

It may be that your follow-up tactics are wanting. Let’s look at best practices for following up with sales leads that might get better responses.

Follow Up Fast

The time you take to follow up with leads has a huge impact on your success at engaging new leads. If someone contacted you for information, they are probably contacting your competitors as well. A fast response time is critical engaging new leads.

  • 78 percent of customers buy from the first business to respond to an inquiry.
  • Sales conversions are 391 percent higher in the first minute after a request is made.
  • After five minutes, conversion rates decline by 80 percent.
  • Most companies take five or more days to respond.

If you’re one of those businesses that takes days to respond to leads instead of minutes, speeding up your response times could get your funnel flowing again.

Follow Up Often

If that first quick response doesn’t work, don’t give up. According to Salesforce it takes seven to eight touches for a lead will respond, but:

  • 44 percent of salespeople give up after the first follow-up.
  • 92 percent of companies give up after the fourth touch.

People are busy, and persistence will keep you at the top of a lead’s inbox when they are ready to respond. Also, you don’t know where each lead is in the buyer’s journey.

Most buyers go through a three-stage process:

  • Awareness that they have a problem that they can’t solve themselves.
  • Consideration of the available solutions.
  • Decision on the product or service that works best for them.

Remember that for most businesses:

  • Three percent of your market is at the decision stage and are actively buying.
  • 56 are in the awareness stage and confirming that there are solutions to their problem.
  • 40 percent are in the consideration stage—comparing solutions before making a decision.

Make it About the Customer

Far too many follow-up campaigns talk about you and your company more than about the lead and his or her needs. Think about the frequent lead-ins to messages:

  • I just wanted to follow up...
  • I thought I’d circle back...
  • I would like to schedule a call...

Instead of talking about what you want, make an educated guess about what they are looking for and help them find it. In other words, before asking for something, give leads something of value such as:

  • A statistic about the success of your category of product at solving a pain point.
  • An article or blog post comparing different approaches to solving that pain point.
  • A current offer with a deadline they might like to know about.

Get the Subject Line Right

You might not be getting a response to follow-up emails because your subject line is either unremarkable or too salesy or spammy.

  • 70 percent of people decide whether to open an email based on the subject line.

If you’re not paying attention to your subject lines, you should because your competitors are.

  • 47 percent of marketers test subject lines before selecting emails.

Some general tips for subject lines include:

  • Keep it short—the optimal subject line length is just 16 characters.
  • Think mobile—more people are checking email on their phone and long subject lines (and messages) are less likely to be opened.
  • Personalized subject lines are opened 50 percent more than non-personalized ones.

There are lots of resources for testing subject lines:

Use a Breakup Email

Sometimes the best way to get someone to respond is to let them know that this will be your last call or email. People get used to hearing from you and plan to get back to you but figure you will always be reaching out and they will respond later. Enter the breakup email. It’s a little like playing hard-to-get and sends the message that your time is valuable. Breakup emails can get up to a 75 percent response rate.

Few tips for breakup emails:

  • Be honest about why you’re ending your emails or calls.
  • Be professional—it's just business.
  • Be open—invite the contact to contact you at any time.

If your email platform allows to track opens, check to see that the recipient opened at least one email before you break up. If not, your emails might be going to a spam folder.

Sound Too Complicated? Outsource Follow-Up

Following up with leads can be time consuming, especially if your volume is high. It’s one of the most common ways sales leaders use virtual assistants. You can route form fills or other lead sources to a VA that can quickly call or email leads as they come, making sure yours is the first message that they receive. A virtual assistant can also:

  • Set up email workflows in marketing automation platforms.
  • Enter leads in your CRM.
  • Test subject lines.
  • Schedule meetings.

To learn more about how a virtual assistant can make your sales process more efficient and effective, download this ebook.

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About the Author: Bill is Prialto's senior content marketing manager and writes about the future of work and how businesses can be more productive and successful. His work has appeared in the World Economic Forum Agenda blog and CIO magazine.

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