If I go to the driving range and hit 1,000 golf balls it doesn’t make me Tiger Woods. I could’ve done it wrong 999 times.
The same principle is true for inside sales representatives. It’s not about the quantity of sales calls, it’s about the quality of your swing and follow through. Persistence is key to improve lead follow-up.
In years past a goal of making the most calls may have proven valuable. However, recent research has shown us something different. Gone are the days of color-coded index cards as a lead organization system – technology has made inside sales considerably more complex. Leads arrive at various stages of the buyer’s journey, and there are more ways to connect. Sales success today depends on follow ups and several other aspects we will look at below.
Technology can also be a hindrance though. Overzealous companies that collect multiple applications in their MarTech stack are more likely slowing down their sales team than enabling them to generate more revenue. Remembering what information is required in which software can be confusing, there’s a lot of wasted time inputting duplicate data, and having more than a handful of apps is downright intimidating. I believe the fewer sales applications, the better. Attempt to simplify the process, don’t complicate it any more.
“Golf is deceptively simple and endlessly complicated.” – Arnold Palmer
5 Important Aspects of Optimal Follow-Ups
Lead follow-up needs to be mapped out with automation and defined logic to achieve the coveted hole-in-one and make the sale. Before the lead even comes in, management should delineate the following:
- When the follow-up will occur once the lead is received
- How sequential follow-ups should be timed
- Who is the best person for the lead based on experience and locality
- How the rep will communicate with the lead
- Clear messaging
The sales process should be scalable and supported by an infrastructure that drives sales instead of just reports on them. In the podcast episode, “Increasing Productivity Through Workflow Automation,” I talk about a few important aspects of optimal follow-ups. Let’s take a closer view at how to improve lead follow-up and close more deals.
Submission to Contact Time
As soon as a lead is submitted on your website, how long is it before one of your representatives makes contact? In the podcast, Barb mentioned a test that she did submitting a request to a competitor’s website for one of her clients. Not only did they not reach out to her within the hour, but a year has passed, and no one ever made contact. This seems to be a regular occurrence and one that should be avoided. What is the point of having a lead collector if you’re not even going to use it?
VanillaSoft sales reps strive to contact the lead within an hour of submission. If the lead came via the web, it is very likely that they submitted requests to your competitors as well. There’s something to be said about being the first to respond.
Automated call cadence should be the foundation of any sales technology. Incorporating best practices and information from analyzing past sales data will direct management as to the best timing for a follow-up. This will be different across various industries and can change over time as consumer’s expectations evolve. Regularly revisiting data is beneficial to stay on top of any needed updates.
Caller’s Aptitude to Make the Sale
Organizations must know how to assign their “best” representative to a lead. This doesn’t necessarily mean your highest paid salesperson though. Of course, you want to ensure all your employees have received the proper training and the capacity to answer any questions that arise, but it is also smart to assign leads by region. Talking to a local experienced rep can add a sense of connection and more opportunity for the caller to build a relationship with the lead. The end goal is to secure the sale, but each point of communication opens the possibility of the prospect getting disengaged and the need for an unlikely mulligan.
Establishing a consistent message for your communications is key. Take advantage of technologies like VanillaSoft that offer logical branch scripting, email templates, and SMS text message templates to ensure your salespeople are sticking to your brand message. Don’t stop with scripting the pitch though. Check out our post How to Improve Your Inside Sales Pitch Effectiveness for ways your reps can practice their pitch. The better they know it, the more likely their personality will shine through and attract your prospects even more to them and your brand.
Forms of Communication
How a prospect contacts your company should be considered when following up with them. If the lead comes from a web submission then maybe your first point of contact should be emailing them. This is something that your organization will need to decipher in advance and have plugged into your automation.
Continue to Improve Lead Follow-Up
Going back to my golf analogy, practice makes perfect, but perfection requires improvements. Technology is moving fast, and with the inception of artificial intelligence and deep learning, you can expect more changes to the sales process over the next few years. These developments will alter your prospects’ expectations from the brand, and you must keep up.
Mapping out and automating a clear plan for follow-ups will increase your salespeople’s speed to lead response time and assist in increasing revenue. Our queue-based routing and lead integration tools distribute leads so they are handled in the most productive and timely way according to your parameters. Allow technology to work for your organization and improve your salespeople’s overall productivity by simplifying the tedious, non-revenue generating tasks.
If you are interested in listening to more on the subject, I recently spoke on a podcast episode of Barb Giamanco’s Razor’s Edge Podcast. I highly recommend you check it out.