If your sales process involves a meeting or conversation followed by a quote, proposal or simply a summary of your services to be agreed to before you get paid, these ideas for sales follow-up are for you.
The ‘gap’ in between sending out your quote or proposal and being paid can be a time of reflection, double-checking decision-making, or just ‘busy-ness’ so it’s forgotten by your prospect, and there are some simple things you can do in your sales follow-up to help this gap get shorter or the sale more certain. Here are our 5 ways to follow-up… pick one if it’s a perfect fit for your business, or create a combo that covers what you know your prospects will need to hear.
Sales Follow-up Number One: Ask your Prospect to Pay
This follow-up is a very straightforward reminder to pay, and works well for your ‘busy’ prospects.
What you can send:
- Reason why
This follow-up works best with short, simple and straightforward quotes where there is absolutely no deliberating and decision-making left to do, but simply a reminder to dig out their credit card for a one-off payment or bank details for a direct debit and get started.
Deadlines that expire can work well for this type of prospect and follow-up… perhaps a ‘deal’ that runs out, or holding a space in your diary for a set time before releasing it. Be OK to use scarcity and remind them to pay as this ‘secures the booking’ or ‘places are limited’. Many of us are busy but also deadline-oriented on our To Do list and are very happy to be reminded of something we have every intention of buying so we don’t miss out on the offer.
When you’ve had a straightforward sales conversation, you can have a straightforward follow-up… there’s no more ‘selling’ to do, your prospect knows it’s something they need and want, it’s simply competing with everything else on their To Do list so a few reminders aren’t a problem. The follow-up reminders don’t feel pushy if you keep them matter-of-fact and friendly. Your prospects should feel pleased you’re reminding them as it had slipped their mind or you’ve just caught them at a great moment and now works really well to take the 5 minutes to read through the quote and accept the order and pay you. Thanks for the reminder!
Sales Follow-up Number Two: Add Credibility
Almost certain and decided, this prospect just needs a nudge to confirm and pay. You should try to get to the “Yes” in the meeting, but it’s natural that people might have a handful of second thoughts or spend some time rationalising their decision before committing and paying. While this isn’t selling, this is what we’d call ‘sticking’–making the sale you’ve already made ‘stick’.
What you can share:
- Case studies
- Awards & accolades
- Supporting stories
As you send your ‘reminder to pay’ or ‘checking you’ve received your quote and do you have any questions’, also include credibility adding content. Or simply send the content on its own as ‘thought you might want to read about another business just like yours we worked with’ or ‘this is a useful article’ that you’ve written which addresses their problem or something you spoke about in your sales meeting.
Share articles you’ve written or been featured in and professional reviews or peer reviews. Anything that adds credibility and social proof that you can do what you say you can will all help to nudge a prospect who just has a couple of last-minute wavering “Shall I go ahead?” thoughts into a customer.
Sales Follow-up Number Three: The ‘assumptive’ follow-up… you get started
This works well when you know it’s a project or piece of work that was agreed in the sales meeting, and everyone wants to get started.
You act as if the “Yes” is absolutely certain and carry on with a follow-up with on-boarding content or information as if you’ve started the work already. Of course, the caveat here is not to give away anything you wouldn’t be OK giving away for free just on the off chance they change their minds and don’t pay!
What you can send:
- Homework or preparation work
- Date confirmations–get sessions or meetings booked in
- Start your service–however that looks, send what you’d send first
This assumptive follow-up can be enough to remind people that ‘oh yes, I’m doing that thing I must pay’! This isn’t to be used as a ‘trick’, but when you know that the sale was agreed, the prospect was keen to get started, and the payment is most likely on its way.
Sales Follow-up Number Four: Overcome Objections
Now this might smack of ‘closing a sale’ aggressiveness and we’re NOT fans of that–you can read our thoughts on sales here–but if you’ve missed out a question or query in your sales conversation, or your prospect only thought of it later, they may now have an objection to buying.
If you know there are often ‘what if’ and ‘oh, I’ve not thought about, I need to ask…’ or ‘hmm, is this really going to work for me?’ questions, it’s a good idea to address those in your quote or proposal follow-up.
If you know there are more questions and it will take more than case studies and social proof to confirm the sale, go straight into ‘objection handling’ which from now on we’re calling ‘make sure you answer ALL the questions’ as that’s a nicer and more accurate description.
Here are questions you can answer:
- The reasons why not
- Help sell to other decision makers
- Use customer stories and testimonials that answer questions IN their content
It’s always good to let people know they’re not the first person to be thinking about or worrying about or have questions things related to buying your service. The more a prospect knows and understands these ‘objections’ they have are actually part of a typical decision-making process (that all the people who went on to buy and get the great results also went through), it becomes OK.
If it’s a sales process where there are other decision makers in addition to who you have spoken to or met with–for example, it could be the ‘other half’ if you’re selling to a consumer, or the FD, board or other decision makers if selling into a business–it can really help to provide all the answers for whoever else needs to be bought in to the sale. Create web pages, documents, blogs, videos, brochures, books of case studies, infographics, cheat sheets, fact files–whatever you know will help to support your decision maker with selling to THEIR decision maker.
Share case studies that answer questions and match this stage of the decision-making process–‘I know when I was between meeting and signing up I was thinking about abc and worrying about xyz, but I was really pleased that this was explained/I had a chance to ask more questions/turned out to be something everyone always thinks about before signing up’, etc. Hearing someone else in a case study or testimonial voice the same concerns they are having right now will really help a prospect who is deciding and has those questions too.
Sales Follow-up Five: Answer as many FAQs and SAQs as you can
Address as many How, What, Why, When and Where questions as you can that might be stopping a sale as Frequently Asked Questions or Should Ask Questions.
Topics to cover in your question answering:
- You vs. (comparisons)
- Getting Started
- What if…
Frequently Asked and Should Ask questions are also a way of overcoming objections, but sometimes with that less front and centre of the agenda as they can cover a little ‘more’ selling, too.
People are either thinking “I should have asked this” or they might not have fully understood something which might not be stopping a sale, but will help make a buyer more certain or confident. Leave no doubts in your prospect’s mind that they are buying the right thing from the right business by addressing as much as you can.
Price: answer questions about why your service costs so much/so little, and why you ask for payment the way you do.
Potential problems: don’t shy away from discussing any potential problems with your service. If you know it’s going to be ‘difficult’ at any point while working with you–perhaps there’s set-up that’s boring(!) or a stage in the process where people are wondering if it’s all worth it. Perhaps some things don’t go right first time, but they need to be tried. Anything that’s a potential problem is absolutely worth getting out in the open. Always talk about any ‘elephants in the room’ as you’ll look good pointing them out. I’d much rather buy from someone who points out the odd failing or ‘slightly tricky bits’ than buy from a supplier who pretends everything is perfect in a ‘we’ll gloss over that’ way.
Comparisons are great for follow-ups. It’s another ‘elephant in the room’–why are you better/different/more or less expensive than your competitors? You have competitors and to pretend otherwise is naïve. Even if you don’t think you have direct competitors, your prospects won’t be as clear to why you’re so much better/different other people. The best thing you can do is to be the bigger person and not just acknowledge your competitors but to do some helpful comparisons. You may (or may not) want to name them, so either speak in general terms or, if they are very obvious competitors, simply name them. Do a comparison chart, write reviews of ALL the main companies in your industry, ideally without even mentioning you just an honest factual review of each. And share all these comparisons in your follow-up. We actually recommend you have competitor comparisons on full display on your website or blog so that your prospects can see them even before a sales conversation, but if they’ve missed them or a reminder would be useful, send them in the follow-up to a quote or proposal too.
Share results that are likely, and what needs to happen to achieve them. Answer questions about how it works when working with you. Talk about different types of results and how they happened. Don’t just share the ‘amazing’ results–obviously DO share those–but share the smaller or step-by-step results achieved, too. If I’m buying from you, know I want to know what results I can expect straight away or soon, and not just the ‘big result’ of working with you over time.
As a prospect, talk me through how it works when I get started working with you, too. Explain the process–the paperwork if there is some, the preparation, the timings, all the details about how we get started. And even if there are no details because what you offer is a ‘hand it over to me and I fix it’ service, let me know that too as your potential customer, as I may be worrying that I have to ‘do something’. Anything logistical–times, places, directions, anything that may cause a potential ‘objection’ or ‘problem’–share it now so that it can be fixed, answered or handled and the quote or proposal still be accepted.
And What ifs… for the worriers, spell out some worse case scenarios (and why they won’t happen) or, if the worst has happened once or twice, share a case study of how that was fixed anyway. You will know all the what ifs from other sales conversations you’ve had, so again get them out in the open and share them now so they are either not a problem, or a problem that is clear can be fixed.
Often, you’ll have ALREADY answered these questions in the sales conversation, on your website, or they may even be IN the quote. But there is nothing wrong with answering the questions again or drawing attention to them on their own, especially if you’ve shared a LOT of information about a lot of things. The important points that can have the potential to stop a sale can always be repeated.
How to ACTION these 5 sales follow-ups to a quote or proposal so you get paid faster
All these follow-ups can be done as an email string–an automated series of emails you’ve set up to be sent out to follow-up a quote. You can have different email strings with different ‘types’ of follow-up and assign them according to the client: the worrier, the ‘just needs a reminder’, the ‘one with questions’. Or you could have one quote or proposal follow-up email string for everyone that’s one or a combination of the suggested follow-up types. You know your business and prospects best, so create the follow-up, or follow-ups that will work best for you.
And don’t just think email, some of these follow-ups could be in the mail–letters, brochures, and other literature you send out in the post… for example, a starter or welcome pack. There could be a call or series of calls set up as follow-up tasks for you or your team to convey the information needed. It could be a combination of emails, mail, calls and anything else that you know will help move a quote or proposal to a confirmed sale.
But for us, the key to a good quote or proposal follow-up is in the preparation, so that the follow-up is not WHEN you sell because you’ve already sold in the sales conversation. The follow-up is simply for payment and clarification. The more you can confirm, the more certain your buyers will be when they say “Yes” and pay. And that’s what a good follow-up does–creates the ‘in the bank’ yes.