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If not your competition will follow up and close the business, not you!

There are some statistics floating around the world wide web that supposedly seem to state that more than 52% of sales people never follow up with a prospect. In fact, these now infamous statistics go on to say how few follow ups sales people actually make when trying to close business.

Many people have wasted a lot of time trying to find out where these statistics came from and if they are actually real or not. Personally I believe that they do have some foundation in the truth, but have probably been taken out of context over time.

However, it did get me thinking what if, to some degree they are nearly right? And if they are nearly right and these statistics are about so called professional sales people, what does that mean for small businesses where the majority of people don’t sell full time?

Could this mean that more than half the prospect calls small businesses make, are lost opportunities?

First let us look at the rest of the scary numbers these questionable statistics also quote.

48% of sales people never follow up with a prospect
25% of sales people make a second contact and stop
12% of sales people make more than three contacts

2% of sales are made on the first contact
3% of sales are made on the second contact
5% of sales are made on the third contact
10% of sales are made on the fourth contact
80% of sales are made on the fifth to twelfth contact

My take on these stats are that they don’t reflect reality and certainly don’t represent every sales person on the planet. However, it does raise an interesting point about not following up.

When you follow up with a prospective customer one of two things will happen. You will either win the business, or you will be told you lost the business. If you don’t follow up, then you will never know which it was.

So my view is always to follow up with a prospect. The worst they can say is no. It is only a two letter word after all!

8 Great Ways to Follow Up

So you may be asking how you can follow up with a prospect or a client. The following might not work in every scenario, but I bet they will work for a lot of them.

  1. Confirm order with customer – If you win the business then this is a natural task to do. However, if the prospect does say no it is always good to reconfirm your offer as a way of leaving the door open for them should they change their mind.
  2. Process internal paperwork – Win or lose the deal, always make sure you inform colleagues. Following up is not just a customer facing activity.
  3. Record all notes from meetings – Again if you win or lose, don’t get lazy with this task. You won’t remember everything.
  4. Follow up contact – The only time you will never put a follow up date in your diary or CRM, is if your prospect has told you not to contact them again. Even if the date is a year away, the next contact date must always be recorded.
  5. Ask for next order – If you win the business, make it clear (if relevant to what you do of course) that you would like this to be a long and fruitful relationship. If you don’t win then make it clear that you would like to supply them in the future.
  6. Ask for a referral – Always, always, always ask for a referral when you win business. If you don’t win the business, you can still ask them if they would be happy to recommend your services to anyone they think may be interested.
  7. Take ownership of any potential issues – Just because you have won the business don’t complacent that your hard work is over. If you don’t win the business, but your prospect has an issue with your competitor, simply make it clear you are there to help solve their problem should they wish you too.
  8. Act on important events that clients have – Whether you win or lose the business, it is always good to congratulate clients about things that are important to them.

It really doesn’t take much to follow up with a prospective client. The more you can “touch” your customers the more profitable the relationship you will have with them.

It doesn’t matter if you follow up by phone, email or social media, if you don’t then your competition most certainly will.