Sales Enablement

Mastering the Sales Follow-Up Process: Don’t Leave Your Buyers Hanging

Have you ever wondered why some deals just slip through your fingers even though you were sure you had them on lock? The issue may lie in your follow-up strategy. Many sellers unknowingly make critical mistakes, leading to missed opportunities and lost deals. We’ll help you transform your sales follow-up process into a powerful tool for building relationships and providing value.

To help us, we talked to Mafalda Johannsen, Head of Growth at Wonderway. Together, we’ve outlined a robust sales follow-up process to help you convert your leads into loyal customers.

Let’s start!

Demand Gen Manager
emlen
10
min read
Jun 20, 2024

What is follow-up in the sales process?

Understanding what a follow-up is in the sales process is crucial for nurturing relationships. A good follow-up strategy means you remain top-of-mind for your prospects without being that stereotypical pushy salesperson. 

You need to strike the right balance between persistence and patience, making sure you provide value at each buyer touchpoint. Many of your deals may have been lost because your sellers failed to follow-up effectively. A strong follow-up process in sales helps you stay connected, answer questions, address concerns, and earn trust. 

Brevet says that 80% of sales require five follow-up calls after the initial meeting, yet sellers give up after just one follow-up. Mafalda says that it’s actually closer to ten follow-ups when you have a longer sales cycle, a more complex product, or more people involved in the deal. 

Now that you understand why a follow-up process is vital in B2B sales, let’s jump into the key components that make an effective follow-up strategy.

Key elements of an effective follow-up

→ Understanding buyer personas

If you don’t understand who your buyer is, nothing else in this blog post will truly help you with your follow-ups. Your buyer persona is essential for crafting effective follow-up strategies as different personas have different communication preferences. Here are some examples from Mafalda based on what she’s observed:

  • CFOs: They prefer communication focused on numbers and metrics
  • Designers: Not surprisingly, they respond better to visual content
  • Salespeople: Appreciate creative and engaging prospecting methods like video messages

She also suggests tailoring follow-up based on the industry and role of your prospect.

“When you do follow-ups and try to communicate with your buyers, you need to understand what they’re into. If you’re talking to a big enterprise, it’s different from a young startup. You might use humor with the latter but stay formal with the former.” – Mafalda Johannsen

→ Timing, personalization and relevance

You need to get a feel for when the time is right for your prospect. Too soon and you may come across as desperate. Reach out too late and your prospect might lose interest. An effective follow-up process for sales ensures you stay relevant and connected.

When you reach out, you need to tailor your message to address the specific needs and interests of your prospect. But, personalization alone isn’t enough.

Without relevance, you’ll find your prospect just as turned off. Talking about your prospect’s love of tennis shows personalization, but if it won’t help you solve their business problem. 

“Personalization is not nice to have nowadays; it’s a must-have. The only way we can get some responses is through personalized and relevant messaging.” – Mafalda Johannsen

→ Multiple touchpoints

Use a mix of emails, calls, and social media to stay connected. Different channels can prove to be more effective depending on where they are in the sales process.

→ Consistency

Regular follow-ups show your commitment and move the conversation forward. Don’t give up after one or two attempts. You can build follow-up consistency by building it into your broader sales strategy with sales enablement.

With these key components in mind, let’s explore a step-by-step guide to implementing the best sales follow-up process.

Our 3-step guide to the best sales follow-up process

Implementing the best sales follow-up process involves structured steps and continuous improvement. Here are the three steps you should follow to help you make that happen:

Step 1: Initial contact and setting expectations

The saying is that you never get another chance at a first impression, so make it count. Your first interaction with your prospect sets the tone for your entire relationship. During this initial contact, be clear about what they can expect from you.

  • How are you going to follow-up with them? Email? Video?
  • How often are you going to follow-up? Set a cadence that’s comfortable for your prospect and let them define it. 

Setting these expectations early and letting them take part in the process will make sure your efforts are wanted.

Step 2: Follow-up email sequence

A well-planned email sequence can keep your prospect engaged and informed. Start with a thank-you email immediately after your first contact. And here’s where you want to start providing real value. Here are some examples of what you can include in your emails:

  • Insights into industry trends, best practices, or solutions to common challenges they’re facing
  • Case studies of your customers within the same industry as your prospect
  • Answer questions that may have come up

Don’t bombard them either. If you paid attention to the previous step, you’ll have set the expectation of how often you’d be contacting them. Stick to it!

Step 3: Using CRM tools for tracking

Having a follow-up process in place is good. Making them dynamic is great! Regularly review your efforts to identify what’s working and what isn’t.

Use metrics to gauge the effectiveness of your strategy and be prepared to adjust as needed. Continuous improvement helps keep your process effective. Don’t worry, we’ll get into the tools later in this post. 

Now that we’ve laid out the steps for an effective follow-up process, let’s jump into the importance of after-sales follow-up and how it can boost customer retention and upselling opportunities.

Keep your customer at the center with a great after sales follow-up process

Too many sellers think their job is done when the signature hits the paper. Not only is it abrupt, it also throws away opportunities for building long-term relationships to keep your customers happy. Also, you’re losing out on the opportunity to upsell. 

When you have a great follow-up strategy for after a sale, you show your customers that you value their business and are committed to their success.

You’ve now reinforced the trust they placed in you and keeps those lines of communication open in the future.

Here are some ways you can follow-up after the sale:

Strategies for effective post-sale follow-up

A strong after sales follow-up process shows customers you value their business. Here are a few ways you can stay on top of things:

→ Thank you emails

Send out a personalized thank you mail immediately after the sale to solidify your commitment to supporting your new customer.

→ Satisfaction check-ins

A few weeks after the sale, check in to ensure your customer is happy with their purchase. This can be through a phone call or an email (establish which the customer prefers). Now you can address any issues or blockers they might have promptly. 

→ Offering additional resources or products

During your follow-up interactions, you can provide additional value through content. We mentioned sales enablement before, and a sales enablement content strategy can really help you send out the right content at the right time for the right customers. 

You should also keep an eye on how their business changes over time. For example, if they purchased a basic package, you can highlight the benefits of upgrading to a premium package now that their needs have evolved. 

→ Regular touchpoints

Schedule regular touchpoints to keep the relationship warm. Whether they’re quarterly or annual reviews, use the time to discuss evolving needs and how your solution can continue to meet them.

If you’re wondering why sales has to be involved in this part of the process if you have a customer success team, the reason is simple: Collaboration.

While the customer success team focuses on ensuring long-term satisfaction and support, your sellers have to maintain a relationship to identify new upsell opportunities. Together, they create a seamless experience that keeps your customers engaged and loyal.

By mastering both pre-sale and post-sale follow-up processes, you can avoid common pitfalls that many salespeople encounter. Next, let’s discuss these common mistakes and how to steer clear of them.

5 Sales follow-up process mistakes and their fixes

Anyone in sales has been there - making mistakes that cost you the sale. The thing is, it doesn’t have to be the norm once you figure out what went wrong. 

Learn to avoid these pitfalls to perfect your follow-up in the sales process. However, if you’ve already misstepped, Mafalda has some great suggestions on how to fix them:

Mistake #1: Impersonal and inconsistent follow-up

  • Why it's a problem: Generic, non-relevant messages AND sporadic follow-up cadences make you seem disorganized or uninterested.
  • How to fix it:
    • Personalize EVERY touchpoint (use names, reference previous conversations, tailor to their needs).
    • Create a clear, consistent follow-up schedule with specific timeframes and actions.
    • Utilize CRM tools or reminders to stay on track.
    • Be adaptable, but maintain a consistent presence in the prospect's mind.

Mistake #2: Overdoing the follow-up

  • Why it's a problem: Bombarding prospects with too many follow-ups or using the wrong channels, is a turn-off.
  • How to fix it: 
    • Develop a strategic follow-up cadence that varies based on the prospect's engagement level and preferred communication style. 
    • Use different channels like email, LinkedIn, or video
    • Add soft touch points by engaging with their LinkedIn content or visiting their profile.

 Mistake #3: The pitch with no value

  • Why it's a problem: Follow-ups that only focus on asking for a meeting or demo, and fail to demonstrate value or personalize to the prospect's needs, get ignored.
  • How to fix it:
    • Share relevant content, insights, or resources that demonstrate your expertise.
    • Position your solution as the answer to their specific pain points.

Mistake #4: Ghosting after the sale

  • Why it's a problem: Giving up too soon OR disappearing after the sale leaves money on the table.
  • How to fix it:
    • Establish a consistent follow-up schedule throughout the sales process.
    • Don't be afraid to reach out multiple times until you get a clear "yes" or "no."
    • Create a proactive after-sales follow-up plan to nurture customer relationships and identify opportunities for upsells or referrals.

Mistake #5: Not gathering insights from lost deals

  • Why it's a problem: Not learning from losses means repeating the same mistakes.
  • How to fix it:
    • Analyze why deals fall through.
    • Solicit feedback from prospects who didn't buy.
    • Use these insights to refine your sales process and follow-up strategies.
    • Go deep when analyzing the buyer persona.

Avoiding these common mistakes can significantly improve your follow-up success. To push your strategy even further, let’s explore some powerful tools and techniques. 

Tools and techniques for effective sales follow-up

Effective tools are essential for follow-up calls in sales. Here are some tools Mafalda recommends:

CRM tools

Customer relationship management tools like Hubspot are essential to help you manage your processes. 

“CRM systems like Hubspot and Pipedrive are essential for managing your follow-up process. They help you keep track of all interactions, set reminders for follow-ups, and monitor the progress of each prospect.” – Mafalda Johannsen

Automated email sequences

Platforms like Amplemarket can save time and ensure consistency in your follow-up with minimal effort. These sequences can be personalized based on your prospect’s behavior and engagement. 

Multi-channel follow-up

We previously mentioned that using different channels can be more effective at different stages of the sales process. Here’s each of them broken down:

  • Email: Ideal for detailed information and resources
  • Calling: Adds a personal touch and allows for conversation and idea exchanges
  • Social media: Engage with prospects on professional networking sites like LinkedIn. Share relevant content or engage with your prospect’s posts.
  • Video messages: These are becoming increasingly popular because they’re effective at standing out and leaving a lasting impression.

Personalization tools and templates

Tailoring your messages to each prospect’s specific needs and interests makes your follow-up more relevant and engaging. Using templates will help cut down so much administrative work, allowing you to focus on the more important tasks. Integrating these with your CRM system creates a seamless data flow. 

emlen is another great tool to integrate into your follow-up strategy. With the emlen solution, you can:

→ Centralize communication

Manage all your follow-up communications from a single platform, ensuring consistency and organization.

→ Automate processes

Set up automated email sequences and reminders to ensure timely follow-ups without manual effort.

→ Personalize content

Use data-driven insights to personalize your follow-up messages, making them more relevant and effective. We don’t want to go into too much detail here, so if you want to take a deeper dive into how personalization can enhance your sales efforts, check out our article on personalization in B2B sales.

→Track engagement

Monitor how prospects interact with your follow-ups to refine your strategy and improve results.

Sales training programs

Mafalda recommends investing in sales training programs such as Wonderway LMS and Wonderway COACH. They can equip your team with the skills and knowledge they need to boost their follow-up game.

“Investing in sales training programs can provide structured learning and development, enhancing sales skills and techniques.” – Mafalda Johannsen

With programs like these, your sellers can have ongoing coaching and support no matter where they are in their career. 

By adding these tools and techniques to your strategy and processes, you’ll ensure your buyers always get the most consistent and structured follow-up experience from your business. 

Wrapping up your sales follow-up process

A well-executed sales follow-up process is key to your business’ success. And taking control of your sales follow-up process is crucial for being the go-to solution for your prospects and buyers.

By avoiding the common mistakes, and maintaining a consistent and personalized approach, you’ll quickly start to see improvements in your follow-up success.

Getting started might seem challenging, but it doesn’t have to be. If you’re unsure of where to begin, we’ll be happy to help you uncover where your follow-up is blocked and work with you towards a more effective strategy. Your commitment to consistent, personalized, and valuable follow-ups will set you apart and ensure lasting success in your sales efforts.

Romana helps B2B tech companies and startups to craft high-performing content marketing strategies with a focus on organic growth, SEO, high-quality content production & distribution.

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