In marketing, there are a few instances when it is critical that you follow up with someone. The clearest example is when you have an interested prospect, or sales lead.

Companies acquire, develop, or build leads in a number of ways. Perhaps it is someone who filled out a form on your website, or someone on a list that you purchased, or someone referred to you by an existing customer.

No matter how you get the lead, the follow up is key to making the sale. And when you follow up is almost as important as how you follow up.

When you follow up matters for two key reasons.

First, it is important not to wait so long that the person no longer cares, or does not remember why you are following up in the first place. In some cases, you may be competing with other salespeople/companies to make the sale and reaching out too late will cost you the business.

Second, it is important that you meet a prospect’s expectations in the sales process to give them a positive impression of your brand. A prospect is likely to judge the quality of the product or service they are considering on the quality of the sales experience.

There are three general categories we can put sales follow-ups into. You should decide which one makes the most sense for you.

  1. Immediate. The immediate follow up bucket is for all those times when speed matters. In many cases, the quicker you reach someone, the more likely it is that you will make the sale. This is especially true when multiple businesses are competing for that same customer.
  2. Specified time. This is true whenever there was previous contact or communication that indicated a specific time for follow up. Whether you spoke to this prospect already and agree to call back later, or they expressed a desire to be contacted on a specific date, the “when” in this equation is very obvious.
  3. After action. In some number of cases, the follow up should happen after giving the prospect enough time to do something you’ve asked. For example, you may have sent them some literature on the product they requested. It does not make sense to follow up right away, given that they would not have had time to read through the information yet.

When you follow up matters if you want to get the sale. We use timing to set expectations. It is important to understand who your potential customer is and what they need from you so that you can determine how and when to reach out.