Not all prospects are going to complete a purchase after your first pitch. That doesn’t mean they aren’t interested. It could just mean that the timing was off, they didn’t have the budget at the time, or they just forgot. Or perhaps they need a bit more convincing.
That’s why following up is so important. But it can also be time consuming.
Ivana Taylor of DIY Marketers says, “Persistent and consistent follow up on sales leads is key. Follow-up is how you convert more leads to prospects, and more prospects to customers. The biggest reason most small business owners and sales people don’t follow up is because they simply don’t have the time. Or they lack the resources to consistently follow up on sales leads. Automation solves this problem.”
By automating your follow-ups, you’re setting up a sequence of communications designed to remind people about your offering. This gives you a better chance of closing those sales you were already close to making.
And automation frees up your time so you won’t need to spend your whole day at it. Plus, you can get rid of the post-it notes!
How to Automate Follow Up on Sales Leads
Here is how you automate follow-up on sales leads. In this article we specifically address using automated emails to follow up.
Find a CRM Tool That Supports YOUR Sales Process
A good CRM tool is essential to a successful automated follow-up strategy. CRM tracks where people are in the sales process and can give you valuable insights into sticking points, questions or concerns to address.
But in order to automate follow-up of sales leads in your business, a CRM has to work within your company’s selling structure.
So think about how you sell. Do you mostly use email offers? Do you have an ecommerce storefront? What about live chat – do you use it? Do you have sales reps who physically call on potential customers?
Some CRM systems connect to a retail point of sale system. Others are fabulous for supporting B2B sales from lead forms on your website. And still others maximize ecommerce sales with integration with your online store.
You have to find the one that best fits your sales process.
Make sure the CRM has marketing automation capabilities. This means, the software lets you set up rules for who gets what automatic follow-up, and when. Also, it automates actions, such as triggering email messages to go out.
In addition, list all of the tools you use today when selling and communicating.
You’ll get the most automation benefits if tools work together seamlessly. Look for a CRM that integrates with your existing email marketing platform, live chat, ecommerce platform, or whatever else you use in the sales process.
Integration helps you avoid duplicate data entry. It minimizes the need to manually step in to take action.
In summary, identify the key processes you need a CRM to help with. Evaluate automation features any CRM offers. Also write down the existing software programs you need it to integrate with. Let this list guide you to the CRM app most likely to work for your business.
Map Out Your Customer Journey
You can’t hope to effectively follow-up if you don’t know why people walked away in the first place.
This requires some mapping out of your customer journey. Think about:
- How customers find you
- Why they buy from you
- What questions they ask about your product or service before buying
- Which steps in the process they’re likely to get stuck on
- What might prevent them from buying
- What convinces them to buy
Using this information, you can address customer concerns proactively. This can be done through emails. With the right messages addressing their hot buttons, you’re more likely to get them to take advantage of your offer, or become repeat buyers.
Ask others on your team for their input. Collect any data you have today that answers the above questions.
Sometimes business owners are surprised at this step. They discover that perception and memory do not always match reality.
So, writing it down helps you “see” how you have gotten customers in the past. The process of writing it down isolates what worked — and what didn’t.
Create an Email Sequence to Follow Up on Sales Leads.
Taylor says, “Create a series of 5 to 7 emails that consistently remind people that they were interested in purchasing from you. Make sure each email has a call to action.”
Add value, too, with the emails.
Let’s say you have an ecommerce company. You might set up a sequence of emails meant for those who have left your site with items still in their cart. You send one right away reminding them that the items are still available, one a few days later emphasizing the 5-star reviews an item got, one when an item is close to selling out, and one when it goes on sale.
Here’s another example. Let’s say a person registered to download an ebook that you use to generate B2B leads. If the person hasn’t actually clicked on the link to open the ebook, you could send the link again two days later in case they missed it. (The right software can identify whether they’ve clicked or not.) A subsequent message might share a companion worksheet. After that you might offer a free 30-minute consultation.
Each email is a follow-up. You’re giving added value in the form of reminders or additional information.
With the right software, you can automate these email sequences to do the follow-up for you.
One last point: Email is not about pestering people. It’s about giving useful information and incentive to advance to a sale.
So don’t just send the exact same email every single day. Give them time to complete the sale if they so choose. If the first email doesn’t work, then try again using another angle or providing some different type of value.
Also, know when to call it quits. A dozen emails is not follow up — that’s beating a dead horse.
Steps to Automate Follow Up on Sales Leads
In summary, these are the 3 steps to automate follow up:
1. Identify a CRM program. This tool should align with the sales process you use. It should also integrate with existing marketing tools you use. And it should have marketing automation capabilities.
2. Write down the customer journey YOUR customers use. Map out how customers usually find you and what causes them to buy, or not. This helps you identify which follow-up steps and messaging to automate.
3. Automate email messages. This is a series of email messages you create in advance. These are emails that address the common concerns or sticking points people have. With the right CRM software, you can set up “rules” based on specific criteria as to who should receive what messages. Then schedule the emails to go out automatically at appropriate times.
In conclusion, with a little work up front, you can automate the follow up on sales leads. You’ll close more sales — without spending hours doing it.