How To Make a Follow-Up Call in Sales (Plus Helpful Tips)
Sales representatives contact potential customers using a variety of methods, including email, online chat programs and phone calls. During the sales process, a sales representative might make several types of calls, each with their own goals and structures. Learning about follow-up calls can help you understand how to keep potential customers engaged and encourage them to purchase a service or product from your company.
In this article, we define follow-up calls, explain why they matter, provide directions for making an effective sales follow-up call and share some tips to help you connect with customers.
What is a follow-up call in sales?
A follow-up sales call is a phone call between a sales representative and a potential customer, or lead, that happens after their first contact. In this call, the sales representative encourages the customer to make a purchase. This call allows sales reps to remind potential customers, sometimes called leads, about the value of a deal and provide them with more information.
Why is a follow-up sales call important?
Here are some reasons follow-up sales calls can be valuable for sales representatives:
You can use them to create a sense of urgency, increasing the odds of a sale.
They can remind the customer of the company’s products and services.
You can use them to increase awareness of the brand, making it easier for leads to refer others to the company.
They’re an opportunity to provide customer service and answer questions, which can leave a positive impression on potential customers.
How to make an effective follow-up in sales
Here are eight steps you can take to make a productive follow-up sales call to a prospective customer:
1. Contact leads quickly
Typically, it's a good idea to contact leads soon after having an initial conversation with them about the product or service you're selling. A simple rule for sales reps is to contact your potential customers within an hour after initial contact, but preferably within ten minutes after establishing a deal. You might send them an email after you speak with them for the first time and then call them a few days later, ensuring that your lead remembers the details of the potential deal and increasing the sense of urgency.
2. Prepare for your call
Use the information that you gathered in your initial sales call with the customer to plan your follow-up call. In your initial call, you might have asked the customer questions about their needs and discussed some product features to identify areas of interest for them. Once you know what motivates them, you can emphasize those features in your follow-up call.
For example, if you’re a sales representative for a tutoring company, you might use your discovery call with a parent to find out about their student’s needs and tutoring preferences. Before your follow-up call, you might ask the tutor management team to suggest specific tutors who fit the customer’s preferences.
3. Choose strategic call times
Calling at critical times can increase the odds that you speak to a potential customer. The time you choose to make a follow-up call might depend on the type of customer. For example, if you sell office supplies to small businesses, you might conduct your follow-up calls during business hours, when your clients are likely to be in their offices. Other customers, like working parents, might be more likely to answer the phone in the evenings. If you call a customer and don’t get a response, consider choosing a different time the next day to call them again.
4. Supplement phone calls with messages
Although phone calls are important to remind customers of deals, consider using multiple channels of communication with phone calls to help leads keep track of the information in the deal and your contact details. If you call a customer and get a voicemail message, leave a message and then send them an email or text to tell them that you attempted to contact them. You can provide your phone number in the message to encourage the customer to call you back. That way, you can still have your follow-up call.
5. Begin with a summary
When you speak with a customer in a follow-up call, it can be helpful to remind them of the points you discussed in your discovery call with them. Using your notes from the previous call, talk to them about their needs and ask them if anything’s changed since the last time you spoke. Summarizing your previous conversation can remind them why they were interested in the product or service you’re selling. It also ensures that you provide accurate information during this call.
For example, a salesperson for a solar panel installation company might have a follow-up call with the facilities manager of a local college. In the initial call, they may have discussed the cost of solar panel installation on three buildings on campus. After the discovery call, the facilities manager might have spoken with the college president, who decided to invest in solar panels for all five buildings on campus. By summarizing the earlier conversation, the salesperson gives the customer an opportunity to provide updated information that might affect the deal.
6. Add value to the conversation
A good sales call typically adds value for the customer by giving them more information about an established deal. When calling a potential customer to discuss a deal, try to add valuable information to keep them interested in your company's products and raise the chances that they close the deal by the end of this call. You might describe related products or offer a discounted price for bundling services.
To increase urgency and encourage the customer to close immediately, you might put a time limit on the added value. For example, a telecommunications salesperson might offer a discount on bundled phone and internet services for customers who purchase over the phone during a follow-up call. The opportunity to save money might increase the percentage of customers who choose to make a purchase immediately.
7. Overcome objections
After you review previous calls and emphasize the value of the product or service you’re selling, the customer might talk to you about obstacles to the purchase, like price or service level. Since you’ve developed a relationship with them over several calls, you can try to overcome their objections by focusing on the benefits they might experience from the deal. Your sales team might meet to discuss common objections and create a script for overcoming them.
For example, a salesperson who works for an office cleaning service might encounter objections based on price, where the customer is reluctant to pay a premium for someone cleaning their office. To overcome that objection, the sales representative might calculate the cost of cleaning products and the lost work time that the company’s employees might experience if they do their own cleaning. By providing concrete benefits, the sales representative might be able to overcome the objection and close the deal.
8. Include a clear call to action
Many effective sales calls end with a call to action, during which a sales representative encourages the customer to perform a clearly defined action, such as signing up for a trial subscription to a software product. The action might depend on the industry and the product or service that you’re selling. When you make your call to action, incorporate some of the benefits you’ve discussed with the customer to persuade them to close the deal.
If your sales process has multiple steps, you might describe what happens next for the customer. For example, if an office manager subscribes to a snack delivery service during a follow-up phone call, the snack company’s sales representative might estimate when the first snack shipment might arrive or tell them how to adjust the types of snacks in each delivery.
Tips for making effective follow-up sales calls
The following tips can help you make sales calls that close more deals and increase revenue for your company:
Be brief but informative. Your potential customer may often be busy, so keep your calls brief and informative to give them the most important details.. You might offer to send them more in-depth information via email or direct mail.
Use a sales script. Sales scripts can help you remember the most important things to say in a sales call and provide answers for common customer questions. . To build a sales script, consider asking your manager or an experienced colleague to help you map out a typical call.
Keep thorough records. Many sales organizations use customer relationship management or CRM, platforms to organize customer information and track deals. Salespeople whose companies don’t use CRMs often use spreadsheets to keep track of customer information.
Be specific. Deliver your sales calls clearly and use specific details to encourage your potential customers to stay on the call and close the deal with you. Specific information and instructions can make customers feel more relaxed and develop a deeper understanding of what they need to do to close a deal, how they can benefit and what the costs are.
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