One of the easiest ways to fail as a salesperson is to avoid following up after a sales meeting. Too often, salespeople cut the process short by waiting for the next meeting with his/her prospect. We might send them a short follow-up email or make a quick follow-up call, but it’s not a substantial touch and it often leaves the ball in your prospect’s court. For example, how often have you…
- Failed to send a thank you note/email of real value?
- Forgotten to input meeting information into your CRM?
- Neglected to recap important discussion points or action items (even for internal use)?
- Chosen not to think about how you can go above and beyond for this next client?
While these actions may sound simple, they should be nuanced steps in your sales process. You establish credibility by following a process that makes it easy for your prospect to do business with you — and that includes proper follow-up.
After meeting with your next prospect, take these 5 steps to properly follow-up.
1. Send a thank you email AND handwritten thank you note.
One of the simplest tips for salespeople and entrepreneurs to improve their win rate is: “Say ‘thank you’ and go all the way with it.” A genuine ‘thank you’ from a colleague, business partner, or salesperson is rare these days. This is probably because we communicate in snippets, hiding behind our computer screens and email addresses. You’re probably already in the habit of sending thank you notes by email after high-stakes meetings (at least we hope you are). But few of us take time with pen and paper. Take 5 seconds to send a thank you note to your prospect the day after meeting them AND then take 15 seconds to write a handwritten thank you note — you know, with a card, envelope, and stamp.
A simple message that we use at Sales Engine every now and then is this: “[Recipient], thanks very much for the time you gave me today. One thing you said really stuck with me. When you said “x” it made me think of “y.” Thanks for that. Best, [Sender].” You don’t need to profess your love for someone and write page upon page before dropping in the mail box. Be concise and specific to a conversation that you had with the recipient. They will feel appreciated and heard, which is essential to a strong relationship. Besides, if you’re the only person you know sending handwritten thank you notes you have already differentiated yourself from the competition.
2. Write a recap of important discussions and action items.
In some cases, you may want to distill your discussion into three clear points and send them to your prospect after meeting. This can help move the sales process along. Other times, this recap will be more for your personal referecence. You meet with prospects day in and day out and it’s imperative that you take the time to stay organized. Store this recap in a place that you can easily reference a moment for your next meeting. (We’re fans on Evernote, but you can also just keep simple dated Word docs in a client folder.)
Consider these questions when writing your short recap:
- Did he/she mention a specific priority when it comes to your product/service? This is a tip – use it in the next meeting!
- Were there other stakeholders mentioned that you should meet with?
- What are your action items and what is your prospect responsible for doing (if anything)?
- What was the most interesting topic of discussion? Can you help him/her think through this in the next meeting?
Your recap doesn’t need to be the length of a novel. Bullet point the important nuggets of information so that you can easily reference it before your next meeting with this specific prospect.
3. Follow up on promises that you made during the meeting.
Simple, right? If you’re really on top of your game, you took notes during the meeting with your prospect. Let’s say you made a promise to send Lisa at Big Company X the link to an article that you mentioned in conversation. The article is relevant and timely to her current challenges and you think sending it would be a value add. If you fail to send this along after you made a verbal promise to do so, you’re indicating that you’re not going to deliver on promises in the future. You don’t want Lisa thinking that you’re not trustworthy or serious about following up on commitments.
Build trust by doing what you say you will do. It’s that simple.
4. Note your next touch in your CRM/calendar.
Don’t let the sales process stall. Proper follow-up is all about discipline – being mindful of your calendar is extremely important to be successful in sales. Booking a few weeks out on the calendar ensures that you are prepared for the next meeting and your prospect knows what to expect. Maybe your next touch isn’t an in-person meeting.
Let’s say Lisa at Big Company X told you that she is on vacation the next 2 weeks and she just won’t have time to move anything along in that time frame. She asked you to follow up with her by email in 4 weeks time. If you don’t note this on your calendar or in your company’s CRM, you are dropping the ball. When 4 weeks pass and Lisa hasn’t heard from you, you’re putting the responsibility of re-starting the conversation on her. Don’t make your prospect do your work for you, even if they are in need of your solution. Determine what your next touch will be and when it will occur.
5. Go above and beyond by delivering something of value.
So, you have delivered on your promises (#3 above). You send Lisa at Company X the article you discussed. You might think your work stops there. It doesn’t. If you’re not constantly thinking through how you can surprise and delight this prospect, you may not deserve her business. Did you read a book recently that Lisa would like? She mentioned that she was going on vacation. Where is she going? One of our own clients at Sales Engine sent their customer a few guidebooks about their vacation destination before they left. What a great touch! Delivering something of true value doesn’t have to be material. It could be a referral to someone in your network or a connection to a business partner that would be a good fit for Company X.
Always seek to delight and surprise your prospects and customers.
Follow-up is key to a smooth sales process and it’s all about discipline.
So, remember, the day after the meeting:
- Send a handwritten thank you note and email
- Write a recap of your important discussion points and action items
- Follow up on promises you made during the meeting
- Note your next touch in your CRM or calendar
- Seek to delight your prospect
You’re on your way to closing the deal.