Have you ever walked out of a sales meeting wishing it were always that easy? I’m talking about the kind of call where you're high-fiving after. The client hung on every word, finished your sentences, and didn't flinch at the price.
When I end these types of meetings, I'm typically already thinking about how I'll spend the commission check. But fast-forward three months, and often the same prospects are ignoring my calls and letting my emails go answered.
Sound familiar? Unfortunately, I’m now stuck in the follow-up game. Because I left that great call without scheduling our next conversation, I have to struggle to re-engage a prospect who's gone quiet.
The biggest mistake when writing follow up emails is the fact that we have to write them.
When concluding a sales call, we should use the last five to 10 minutes to book our next call. In doing so, we eliminate the need to follow up post-meeting or post-demo. So when I'm on a call, I now always try to establish:
If they're actually interested
If I'm talking to a decision maker
If they have money
The game plan for the sale
What makes sense as the next step
Depending on where you are in the sales process, you should use different "incremental" closes to determine how interested the buyer is. For example, on the connect call you might ask, "Can I have your cell number so we can get in touch more easily?"
On a discovery call, try, "What's your desire to make a change?" or "Are you collaborating with anyone on this project? Should we loop them in?"
There are several ways to figure out how much power your prospect has without using the potentially offensive question, "Are you the decision maker?"
"Who else is involved in this decision?"
"Can you please describe the decision making process?"
"Are there any other stakeholders at [prospect's company] it would make sense for me to talk to?"
Money is a tricky topic as well. To learn whether the buyer can afford your solution, use questions such as, "Has [company] bought [this exact product, a similar product] before? How was it funded? What was the approximate price?" and "Our solution typically falls between [X and Y range]. If you believe [product] can help you [achieve A results, solve B problem, meet your objective by C time], would that be feasible?"
Creating a sales plan
Once you've identified your prospect is a good fit, work with them to create a sales plan. This strategy will guide the two of you to the finish line. Map out the key stakeholders, the potential obtacles (and how you'll avoid or mitigate them), and the actions that need to take place at every stage.
That will also help you define the next step. Let's say you've agreed it will be crucial to get support from your contact's team member. You might end the call by asking, "Should we schedule a meeting between you, me, and Noelle to discuss [product's] potential to [solve X pain point]?"
But how do we recover when we've already failed to ask these questions and get our prospect's commitment?
If we're already in the follow-up game, we need a new strategy to recover and revive the conversation. In a situation like this, I try sending this "confused" email.
Sometimes, a more intense approach is necessary. In these scenarios, I'll try to play upon my prospect's desire to help.
From what I’ve found, people are more likely to respond if I’m asking on behalf of another person, versus asking for myself.
I've written more than 5,000 follow up emails, and the two above have continuously worked for me. If they piqued your interest, check out this webinar to learn more about my overall follow-up sales strategy.
Editor's note: This post was originally published in November 2015 and has been updated for freshness, comprehensiveness, and accuracy.
Originally published May 3, 2017 8:30:00 AM, updated February 20 2019