5 Factors for Successful Sales Follow Ups

Sales Enablement
February 26, 2024
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There is a lot great of information out there on how to send a good initial cold email, but the truth is there’s a good chance your prospect won’t reply. If you’re like most B2B sales reps, you’re averaging reply rate hovers around a 12%. If you’re really good, you’re north of 15%.However, nearly half of all salespeople give up after one attempt, according to Scripted. It’s easy to think, “If I just gave my best effort with a great 1st email, then what are the chances a prospect will reply to any subsequent emails? I should just move on to the next lead.”It’s logical to think this, however, it’s dead wrong.Sirius Decisions reported that 80% of sales require more than five follow ups. In fact, multiple sources report that this number has increased to eight or more in the last year.Another self-defeating thought is, “I don’t want to follow up too much, lest I becoming annoying.” Yes, this can easily happen if you’re not following up correctly. However, if you are, then your follow-ups are welcomed.It’s time to rethink how your follow up with your leads. It’s time to develop a solid follow up strategy. It’s time to start closing more deals! In the rest of this post, I’m going to cover the five key characteristics of highly effective outbound sales follow ups.

We’ll explore:

  • How many follow ups does it take to get a reply?
  • What other channels should I be using besides email?
  • What’s the best timing for follow ups?
  • What should I say in the content of my follow up?
  • How personal should my follow ups be?

1) How Many Follow Ups Does It Take To Get a Reply?

There’s no magic number for how many times you should follow up with a prospect to get a reply, but there is one that that we know for sure at PersistIQ: persistence wins!Steli Efti of Close.io has a clear and straightforward philosophy: “I follow up as many times as necessary until I get a response. I don’t care what the response is as long as I get one.” In fact he has a story of following up with an investor 48 times before getting a meeting.I’ll admit that you probably can’t (and shouldn’t) follow up with everyone 48 times, but the point is you have to follow up more than once or twice. We recommend following up at least eight times across multiple channels (which we’ll talk about later).A big challenge with multi-touch follow up sales campaign is simply remembering to follow up. With all the activities a sales rep is tasked with each day, it’s easy to forget to follow up, let alone keeping track for a total of eight times. This is where an outbound sales platform like PersistIQ is crucial to follow up success.Of course, this isn’t the only variable in the equation. Even if there was such a thing as the perfect number of follow ups, reaching out this number of times at the wrong intervals, through the wrong channels, or with the wrong message, will doom your campaign.

2) What Other Channels Should I Be Using Besides Email?

As we previously mentioned, there are multiple channels you can use to get in touch with a prospect. Although emails is the most common, followed by phone, these should not be the only weapons in your arsenal. This is where social selling plays a pivotal role.78% of salespeople using social media outperform those who don’t. However, the name “social selling” can be slightly misleading. The idea is NOT to sell to people on social channels, but rather use social channels as part of the nurturing process.By liking a prospect’s tweet, connecting with them on LinkedIn, commenting on their blog posts and any other social touch, you start to increase familiarity and slowly gain trust. Trust doesn’t just happen over a single night, which is why leveraging multiple channels is imperative if you want to win in the long haul.The best sales reps go beyond the traditional social channels Twitter and LinkedIn. The best reps have an uncanny ability to find creative and less crowded channels to get in front of prospects. Here are some other, less conventional but highly effective channels to diversify your sales channels and sources within those channels:

  • Facebook (tread lightly)
  • Instagram (tread lightly)
  • Personal website
  • Direct mail
  • AngelList profile
  • Crunchbase profile
  • Meetup.com profile
  • The phone ( imagine that )
  • Etc.

Notice that some social media giants like Snapchat and TikTok aren’t on the list. In fact I caution you to tread lightly even on platforms like Facebook and Instagram.  It boils down to context. These are more personal channels and should be kept to only personal communication...mostly that is. Respect the prospect and the channel. Ignore this advice and your prospecting efforts will have the opposite effect, may come off as annoying and possibly even creepy.

3) What Is The Best Timing For Sales Follow Ups?

An old sales mentor of mine us to say, “The difference between lettuce and garbage is timing.” The right message at the wrong time is worthless.Forget about those reports and articles about “the best day to send emails.” Have you noticed they always change? One authority comes out and says Wednesday at 3pm is the best day of the week. Then, everyone start sending on Wednesdays at 3pm. Guess which day and time is now a terrible time to send an email?Like the other factors, there is no golden rule. But here are some guidelines to help you make the most of your timing.Be a little more persistent early on, then tapering off if the prospect hasn’t responded. We’ve seen great results sending the 2nd touch one day or even 12 hours after sending the first. Studies have shows that emails that receive replies do so within 24 hours of the email being opened.Here is an example of a workflow that has been effective for us:

  • Day 1: Call and email
  • Day 2: Email and Twitter (favorite a tweet)
  • Day 3: Twitter (Follow and retweet)
  • Day 5: Email and LinkedIn (connection request)
  • Day 7: Email
  • Day 10: Call and email
  • Day 17: Email and Twitter (tweet at or retweet)
  • Day 21: LinkedIn (comment on a prospects content)
  • Day 28: Call and email

(Pro Tip: You can use Flow by LeadGenius to automate most of this  workflow Download Here)The days are going to vary a little depending on who you’re trying to reach. For instance, associate and entry level employees don’t check their email during weekends. If you choose to follow what we’ve laid out, then only count work days. However, most directors and VPs check their email every day of the week, and at nearly every hour. You can match this workflow to the day. We’ve even seen great results from sending emails to VPs at 5:30pm on a Friday!

4) What Should I Say In The Content Of My Follow Up?

The content of your email is largely going to determine if you come across as an annoying pest or a persistent businessperson. Starting each successive follow up with “just checking in” or “just following up” gets old fast.Sales trainer and guru John Barrows says, “‘Touching base’ and ‘checking in’ are two of the most meaningless phrases in sales. They mean there’s no reason for your call, so therefore there’s no reason for me to talk to you.”The fix is simple: have a reason to call. John suggests starting off the communication with, “The reason for my call is…” If you can’t finish that sentence, you shouldn’t be reaching out.You must offer value at every single step of the way. You cannot be boring. And most importantly, you must make it about your prospect, not you.Here are four legitimate reasons to follow up with your prospect:

  • Reemphasize business value. It’s all about what you can do for the prospect. Find a way to show them value. Talk to their pains, priorities and/or motivations.
  • Offer insights. Again, make it about them and their benefits. It could be sharing a different way to approach their problems or a novel idea for how they can reach goals.
  • Educate. Don’t pitch in your follow ups. Instead, offer a piece of valuable content, whether it’s a whitepaper, ebook, webinar recording, case study, etc.
  • Share news. Why do you think social media is so addictive? One reason is that people want to stay up on news. They don’t want to miss out on anything. Follow up with prospects by sending them relevant industry news, product updates, or competitive announcements.

5) How Personal Should My Follow Ups Be?

Every sales rep knows in theory that the more personal your follow up the better. That’s why there are many new tools and platforms to help make communication seem more personal. That’s the beauty of technology and automation.However, most sales reps fall short when it comes to executing a truly personalized sales campaign. There are three reason for this: they don’t understand customization is NOT personalization, they don’t have enough information on their prospect to personalize their outbound sales communication, and they don’t have time to invest in personalizing.Let’s address each one of these.They don’t understand that customization is NOT personalization. There’s a subtle distinction between customization and personalization, a distinction that makes all the difference. Entering a variable, such as {{first_name}}, and running a mail merge is customizing an email, not personalizing an email. With today’s technology, everyone knows this is possible. If the rest of your communication sounds generic, it doesn’t matter how many variables you have, it will never FEEL personal. The technology itself doesn’t make it a good cold email. Only taking the time to do the research and add the human element will make your email feel personal.They don’t have enough information on their prospect to personalize their outbound sales communication. Not having the information is not a good excuse. If it’s not in your CRM, them go out and find it yourself. Or use a service like LeadGenius to enrich your data and generate new custom leads. Or better yet, do both! You can never have too much information on our prospects.They don’t have time to invest in personalizing. This is often a flaw in thought process. Here’s what I mean. The typical sales rep thinks that if he want to exceed quota, it’s a numbers game. The more lead into the top of the funnel, the more will come out the bottom. That’s not always the case. We’ve already established that by being more personal, you’ll get a better response rate. We seen campaign response rates double by simply adding personalization. Would you rather double your meetings booked by keeping your response rates the same and doubling your sales activity or by doubling your response rates and keeping your sales activities the same?There are many tools, tricks and hacks to make your emails more personal without having to invest too much time and money, but it always starts with you.Now that we have all the pieces of a successful outbound sales strategy, it’s time to start executing. Remember, there’s no single silver bullet, no magic equation to get results. But if you follow some of the keys that I’ve laid out above you’ll have a much greater chance of getting more replies, booking more meeting and crushing quota. It takes the right mindset, like prioritizing personalization over a spray-and-pray approach. It takes testing different channels, number of touches, content, timing and levels of personalization. And it takes using the right technology to help you get the job done, like LeadGenius and PersistIQ.


FAQs


How do you measure the effectiveness of each follow-up channel?

To truly harness the power of follow-up in sales, understanding the effectiveness of each channel is paramount. The key lies in leveraging a blend of quantitative and qualitative metrics that offer a holistic view of performance across different follow-up mediums like email, phone calls, social media, and direct mail.

For email, a sales rep should closely monitor metrics such as open rates, click-through rates, and, most critically, reply rates. These indicators help gauge the recipient's interest level and the email's ability to prompt a response. However, while high open rates might indicate compelling subject lines, the reply rate will tell you if your message resonates enough to elicit engagement.

Phone follow-ups, albeit harder to quantify, rely on tracking call response rates, including the number of calls answered, voicemails returned, and ultimately, conversations that progress to the next step in the sales cycle. Qualitative feedback during these calls can also provide invaluable insights into customer preferences and objections.

Social media effectiveness can be measured through engagement rates, such as responses to direct messages, comments, or interactions with posted content. Additionally, tracking conversion rates from social media interactions to sales meetings or opportunities provides a clear indication of this channel's impact.

Direct mail, though less common, can be assessed through response rates and subsequent actions taken by recipients. Tracking mechanisms like QR codes or unique URLs can help attribute responses directly to the mailed pieces.

What specific metrics or indicators should sales reps look for to refine their follow-up strategies?

To refine follow-up strategies effectively, sales reps should concentrate on a few critical metrics across channels:

  • Reply Rate: Measures the percentage of responses received to the follow-ups, indicating the relevance and appeal of the message.
  • Engagement Rate: For social media and emails, it’s crucial to look at how prospects engage with the content, which could be through likes, shares, comments, or clicks.
  • Conversion Rate: Tracks the proportion of follow-ups that result in a desired action, such as booking a meeting, signing up for a trial, or making a purchase. This metric directly ties follow-up efforts to revenue outcomes.
  • Time to Response: Monitoring how quickly prospects respond after each follow-up can help identify the most effective timing and frequency for follow-up attempts.
  • Feedback Quality: Qualitative feedback from prospects, whether positive or negative, provides direct insights into the effectiveness of your messaging and approach.

How can sales reps personalize follow-ups at scale without compromising the quality of the interaction?

Balancing personalization with scale is a challenge that requires smart segmentation, automation tools, and a deep understanding of your prospects. Sales reps can leverage CRM data to segment prospects based on factors like industry, role, previous interactions, and pain points. Automation tools can then help tailor messages to these segments while leaving room for personal touches, such as mentioning a recent company milestone or a shared interest.

Incorporating AI-driven tools can further enhance personalization by suggesting content adjustments based on the prospect's online behavior or engagement history. However, the human element should never be fully automated away; a brief, personalized intro or conclusion in each message can significantly enhance its impact.

Are there any case studies or real-world examples illustrating the success of the outlined follow-up strategies?

While the original article might not have provided them, drawing from real-world examples can significantly bolster the case for a multi-touch, multi-channel follow-up strategy. For instance, a B2B tech company might share a case study where integrating social media touches into their email-centric follow-up process resulted in a 25% increase in demo bookings. Another example could involve a sales team that, by analyzing call response data, optimized their call times and scripts, leading to a 40% improvement in call-back rates.

Such examples not only validate the strategies discussed but also offer practical insights and inspiration for sales reps looking to revamp their follow-up approaches. By studying successful cases, reps can better understand the nuances of each channel and how to craft a more impactful, integrated follow-up strategy.

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