How to Perfect Your Sales Team’s Follow-Up

Everyone knows that a deal isn’t over until your customer has signed on the dotted line, which makes consistent follow-up a critical part of the sales process. But there’s an art and a science to the perfect follow-up message: you need the right time, the right amount of communication, and the right medium for each stage in the sales cycle. It’s not always easy to replicate, much less train your entire sales team to do every time.

To learn a little more about best practices, we sat down with sales influencer Doyle Slayton. He shared what he’s learned, from considering phone vs. email to finding the right time to reply. Below, are his tips to craft the perfect follow-up.


Author Bio: Doyle Slayton is an internationally recognized sales and leadership strategist, speaker, and blogger. He is a co-founder of xoombi, a sales acceleration company and sales-driven marketing agency that works with executives to develop, implement, and execute inbound marketing and inbound sales strategies.

1. Why do you consider the sales follow-up important?

Follow-up is among the most important activities in sales. It’s an opportunity for salespeople to establish credibility, follow through on deliverables, and build value. Deals are won and lost based on how effective a salesperson is with follow-up.

2. An Entrepreneur contributor said of the sales follow-up: You need to provide valuable information. If you’re showing up with no value, you’ll wear out your welcome fast.”  Do you agree? If so, how should sales managers make sure that reps have the right information?

Too many salespeople fall into the lull of calling and asking, “Hi prospect, just wondering where you are in making a decision to move forward.” The prospect responds, “I’ve got too much going on right now. Call me back in six months.” Nobody wants to be stuck in that cycle.

Salespeople and their managers need to work closely with marketing to develop a combination of thought leadership-based content (e.g. blog posts, eBooks, and tip sheets), case studies, KPIs or testimonials that sales reps can effectively leverage throughout the sales process. Leveraging these materials in context throughout the sales follow-up process makes interactions with prospects more valuable and increases your chances of advancing the sale.

3. How should reps generally think about timing? Should sales managers ever create a uniform process for following up?

There are a lot of studies and metrics on this. I’ve always been a big believer that you want to follow-up on new leads immediately. The first person to make contact often has the best chance of making the sale.

After that it’s about cadence. How often do we follow-up? That’s based on a couple of things, including:

  1. Your sales process.
  2. The materials I mentioned previously.

When it comes to sales managers creating a uniform process, I’m in favor of it. The best companies are built on systems and processes that are easy to follow, produce results, and are scalable. Find a system that works and then do it over and over again as fast as you can.

4. What follow-up methods should reps use (e.g. email vs. phone)? Is it important to consider adding variety to their follow-up?

The best way to follow-up with prospects is through whichever communication channel the prospect has been most responsive to. Salespeople should feel comfortable asking their prospects early on, “How do you prefer to communicate–phone, email, text?” and then use that primary channel with that prospect.

On the other hand, if you are attempting to make contact with a new prospect for the first time and don’t know their preferred method of communication, then yes, try different channels. Track which ones the prospect responds to, opens, etc. and transition to the most effective channel for each prospect.

5. How should reps consider altering their follow-up so that prospects don’t see the same message twice?

It’s important to build out a sales messaging plan for both contacted leads and uncontacted leads.

Contacted Leads: Most of this follow-up will be based on previous contact with the prospect. Leverage the most convincing resources you have available to move the sale forward. For example, did the prospect say they were concerned about the results your solutions would deliver? That’s the perfect opportunity to share a case study or a report with KPIs that matter most to the prospect.

Uncontacted Leads: With leads you’re trying to reach for the first time, it’s important to know how many attempts you’re going to make on each prospect. As an example, if you decide that number is six, then build out six scripted messages that add value and build upon each other.

6. How has modern technology changed the nature of following up? How do you see it changing even further in the future?

Salespeople have access to a lot more information about prospects now than ever before. From company websites to social media profiles, it’s easier to get information about what your potential customers care about.

The key is speed and efficiency. You don’t want salespeople to spend all of their time researching. That’s where technology comes in. We like to keep things simple.

Sales: Use SideKick to quickly gather intelligence on a company website, review a contact’s LinkedIn profile, make the initial call and/or email attempt, and log every action in our CRM.

Marketing: Distinguish between Marketing Ready Leads and Sales Ready Leads and apply the appropriate lead distribution and lead nurturing sequence.

Sales and Marketing: Set up alerts to facilitate listening and interacting on social.

7. Any final thoughts?

There’s no “one” magic bullet for success. It’s a combination of many things… a system… a process… a formula. Figure that out, stack the team with talent that can execute it, and you’ll win!

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