Congratulations! Your hard work paid off. You successfully generated leads from your marketing efforts. Now it’s time to convert those leads into customers. But, it’s not as simple as just picking up the phone and calling them all. Meaningful lead follow-up is much more than that.
You need a plan that will ensure that you’re reaching out to the right leads at the right time to optimize conversion. And this blog post will help you with just that. We’ll cover 11 lead follow-up best practices that will help nurture your prospects to close.
But first, let’s talk about what lead follow-up is and why it’s crucial.
What is lead follow-up?
Lead follow-up is keeping in touch with a prospect or client after an initial meeting or contact. It’s an integral part of the sales process and can be done via phone calls, emails or even physical visits. The goal of lead follow-up is to build on the initial engagement with the prospect and create a stronger relationship with them with the intent to nurture that lead to sale.
Lead follow-up is crucial. It’s how you show your prospects that you’re interested in them, their goals and the obstacles that stand in their way (that your product or service solves). It’s a great way for you to stay relevant and top of mind, which requires consistency.
Why follow up with your leads?
More often than not, prospects need some guidance on their buying journey. It’s not often that they hear about a product on their own and purchase it on their own. In the B2B world, it’s much more likely that a buyer came across a piece of content you published or walked up to your booth in their search for a solution to a problem they’re facing. And, they’ll probably need more than just that one interaction to show them that your solution is the right one.
Following up with leads helps to build relationships, establish trust, fuels education and ultimately close deals. It enables you to uncover your prospects’ real needs and creates an opportunity for you to showcase how you can help. Lead follow-up allows you to:
1. Gauge your lead’s interest level (and need)
Follow-ups allow you to measure your lead’s interest and determine how best to proceed. The level of interest they show (or the urgency of their need) can be used as signals for how to best lead them to the sale. The lead may need more information—or they might just need to know where to sign. Either way, the most efficient path forward starts with knowing where they stand.
2. Render the services your leads may need
Your leads are looking for a solution to a problem, and understanding how big that problem feels to them is important. It helps you understand their urgency. And, if there’s a way you can help them solve it—at least a little—now with no strings attached (think free version of your platform or a guide), share it. This is a great way to show your level of commitment and for them to see the value you bring to the table. It increases the likelihood that they’ll take the next step in the sales process and become a paying customer when they’re ready.
3. Build a solid relationship and trust
Lead follow-up helps to build a strong relationship and trust with your leads. Leads are potential customers, so nurturing those relationships and building trust is essential. Your prospects are going to purchase from a person and a company they feel has their best interest in mind, so it might as well be you.
4. Provide information about your products and services
Lead follow-up also creates an opportunity for you to provide information about your products and services. Use this chance to educate your leads about your offering and how they can benefit from it.
5. Demonstrate excellent customer service
Following up on your leads shows your prospects that you’re responsive to their needs and inquiries. The level of service you show them won’t go unnoticed. In fact, it gives them a glimpse of what they can expect in the future as a paying customer. Every follow-up engagement needs to be grounded in customer service, so be sure to reach out in a timely manner—when you have something new and of value to share and when they ask a specific question.
6. Convert leads to paying customers
When you follow up with leads, you’ll be in first position to guide them to the next stage of the buying journey when the customer is ready. So, follow up and let them know you’ll be there when their timing is right.
6. Expand marketing channels
Once you close a deal, the work is not done. In fact, it creates more opportunities. Take a look at your lead follow-up data to see how the leads that came from various channels performed. Were some leads “warmer” than others? Did some leads close faster than others? By reviewing your lead follow-up data, you’ll get a better sense of which channels to invest more in.
11 best practices to boost your lead follow-up strategy
Following up on your leads—whether inbound or outbound leads—is a critical step in the lead generation and sales process. A well-executed follow-up is the biggest differentiator between a professional sales team and a mediocre one.
The problem is that many people who are responsible for follow up… don’t. This can be for several reasons, but the most common two are:
- They aren’t following up promptly, causing the prospect to lose interest (or forget about the company)
- They’re waiting for sales to contact the lead, which is jumping to the last stage of the journey
To convert leads into customers, you need to follow up with them promptly and consistently. Here are 11 best practices for follow-up to ensure your leads are nurtured and converted into paying customers.
1. Know your target audience
When you’re reaching out to leads, make sure you’re reaching out to people who fit your ICP. (You don’t want to waste your time contacting people who wouldn’t benefit from your product or service.)
You won’t follow up with every lead the same way. Your follow-up should be tailored to each persona. Your documented ICP can give you a starting point for all your follow-up messages across all the personas you engage with. And if you want to kick things up a notch, make sure to take your ICP’s exegraphic data into account. By knowing the exegraphics of your ideal customer, you’ll know exactly how to craft a message that lands.
2. Separate your leads based on the funnel stage
A sales funnel has four main stages: awareness, interest, consideration and decision. Where your leads are in the funnel will determine how you’ll follow up with. (Yes, each stage will be different.)
At the awareness stage, you’re generating brand awareness and introducing your product or service to potential customers. Your goal at this stage is to get leads interested in learning more about what you have to offer. You can send them more helpful resources, such as ebooks, blog posts, infographics or whitepapers.
Once you’ve piqued their interest, it’s time to move them further down the funnel. In the interest stage, you want to get leads interested in your product or service. Send them information about your product, such as case studies or data sheets. You can also invite them to webinars or free trials.
At the consideration stage, leads evaluate your product or service to see if it’s the right fit for them. Here, your goal is to help them decide by providing more information about your product. You can send them pricing sheets, product comparisons or testimonials from happy customers.
Finally, at the decision stage, leads are ready to buy your product or service. Seal the deal by sending them a contract or proposal.
If this sounds overwhelming, we get it. It can be. But by only engaging with leads that match your ICP—especially down to the exegraphic level—the process is a lot smoother and faster.
3. Respond promptly
The key to successful follow-up is to respond to leads promptly. If you wait too long, they may lose interest or go with a competitor.
A quick response shows that you’re interested in their success and builds trust with potential customers. It also shows that you’re organized and efficient, which customers value.
Ideally, aim to respond to leads within 12-24 hours. Every organization is different, and if that’s unrealistic for your business, try to acknowledge receipt of their inquiry within that time frame. Letting them know you see them matters. The market is competitive, and, when it comes to making a sale, timing is everything. Respond quickly to increase your chances of closing the deal.
4. Use a follow-up schedule
When it comes to follow-up, consistency is key. Stay in touch with leads, but don’t get pushy. Appearing desperate is not a good look.
The best way to strike this balance is to create a follow-up schedule. A solid follow-up schedule should include the following:
- The date you contacted the lead
- The type of contact (email, phone call, etc.)
- The date of your subsequent follow-up
5. Use different contact methods
Not everyone likes to talk on the phone. Some people don’t like the surprise text message from a vendor… but some appreciate a cold FaceTime (according to a recent LinkedIn post, anyway). The point is, you’re not always going to know what form of communication your lead prefers. Try a few so you can discover what’s most convenient for them.
Here are some different contact methods to consider:
- Phone calls
- Text messages
- Social media messages
- In-person meetings
These methods can be effective, so it’s important to experiment to see what works best for your leads.
6. Personalize contact
How do you stand out in a sea of generic follow-up messages? The answer is simple: personalization.
When you personalize your message, you show interest in the individual lead. It builds rapport and makes the lead more likely to respond to your message. So, do a little research on your lead and customize your message to match your contact’s profile. You can add a personal touch by referring to the piece of content they engaged with or even a recent milestone their company achieved. What’s important here is that you tailor your message so it resonates with them.
Beyond building rapport, use personalization to sell to leads. Show them your product isn’t a one-size-fits-all but a perfect solution for their needs.
7. Track contact attempts
This is a must. Keeping track of your contact attempts with leads keeps you from bombarding them with emails or phone calls and ensures you’re doing your part to get their attention.
Keep track of how many times you have contacted a lead, and take detailed notes of each conversation so you can refer back to them later. This will help you remember what the lead is interested in and their pain points. It will also help you personalize your next contact attempt.
8. Solve the lead’s problem
When you follow up with a lead, always try to solve their problem. If they have a specific issue, show how your product helps or, even better, recommend solutions to show you’re not only about selling. This will show you’re attentive and genuinely interested in helping them.
Plus, it’s a great way to convert them down your sales funnel because you’ve established a solvent relationship, and they’re willing to learn more about your offer.
Keep this in mind as you continue your follow-up efforts.
9. Always ensure the lead is interested in the next step
Always. After all, you don’t want to waste your time (or theirs) by continuing to follow up with someone who’s no longer interested in what you have to offer.
How do you make sure they’re interested?
Be clear about your intentions and let them know when you plan on following up again and what you may offer with that follow-up. For example, if you’re a software company, let them know you’ll follow up in a few days to see if they’d like a product demo.
It’s also a good idea to have a strategy for cold leads. There’s no set formula for this, but an automated email reminds the lead why they were interested in your product or service in the first place. And if they still don’t respond? Keep following up.
10. Continue to follow up
Don’t give up even if a lead doesn’t respond to your initial contact. (In fact, they likely won’t.) Continue to follow up and reach out multiple times—and via different communication channels.
Be persistent. Studies have shown that it takes an average of eight follow-up attempts to convert a lead, so don’t give up after one or two tries. It can be challenging to continue following up without seeming pushy. Still, as long as you’re polite and respectful, you’ll be fine.
Following up can be a lot of work, but it’s worth it when you consider the potential payoff. By making a concerted effort to follow up with your leads, you’re much more likely to convert them into customers.
11. Know when to stop
We just told you to be persistent. To follow up multiple times in a variety of ways. But, there comes a point when you may need to space out your outreach or even stop. If a lead doesn’t respond to your follow-ups after a few weeks or months, it’s probably time to move on.
There’s no universal magic number, so track enough data to know how to set one for your team. The guidance we’ll give here is that a good practice is to revisit the customer against your ICP. Do they still align? Is your product still relevant to them?
Staying in touch with leads after they’ve expressed interest in what you’re selling is how you’ll land a deal. But it might take some work. Following up the right way will take time and effort.
Rev can help make the entire process smoother by ensuring that your leads match the characteristics that matter most to you—and that they’re fit and ready to hear your pitch. Want to see how? Contact us and we’ll level up your ICP to an aiCP.