In sales, there’s nothing more soul-destroying than a red-hot lead slipping through the cracks while you’re off chasing a bunch of tire-kickers.
That is a real morale killer.
Particularly if marketing is working really well with sales to qualify the lead for your team.
Frustration builds fast. You’re slogging it out to handle all the leads in your pipeline, but all people outside your team see is a precious opportunity lost.
We want to share the 4 practical steps you need to build into your sales process to make sure your excellent leads don't get away because you can’t follow up effectively.
Focus on the Activities You Control - Not the Results You Can’t Control
We’ve all experienced the lack of control you sometimes feel when selling.
You can do everything right, but you simply can’t control the mind of your prospect. Sure, there are ways to improve the chance that people want what you’re selling by leveraging cognitive bias. You can even train your sales team’s soft skills and work on improving your sales conversations to give yourself a better chance at closing more deals.
But the result is not in your control.
Leads may just decide not to buy.
Even if you did everything at the top of your game - some prospects will not pull the trigger.
But what if you’re losing leads through the things that you can control?
That’s a huge problem.
You need to focus your attention here and develop a process to reduce (or banish) thses instances.
Late or missed follow-ups are a pet hate for any sales manager. Equally, your potential client can be so frustrated by your lack of communication that they may spread the story of their negative experience with others. This compounds your mistake and costs you even more potential deals in the future.
Sales reps operating under a scattergun approach with no structure to their daily tasks can appear disorganized, underprepared and lacking in confidence. Prospects can easily sniff out a lack of research and a spot of desperation.
1. Things you can control:
- When you follow up
- How you follow up
2. Things you can’t control:
- If the customer buys
- When the customer buys
Focus on number one.
We want to explain the four practical steps you need to implement into your sales process in order to stop losing deals because of the way you follow-up.
But first - two simple rules your sales team needs to live by immediately (even before you update your sales process).
Prompt Communication = More Deals Closed
According to a survey commissioned by the Harvard Business Review, salespeople see a 400% increase in lead response when contacting a lead within the first five minutes.
This could be as simple as developing an automated (but personalized) initial response email template.
Getting in first is clearly important.
A study in the UK also found that only 2% of deals are concluded when the two parties meet for the first time, while 80% of sales take five follow up calls to close. But over 50% of salespeople give up after just one follow up call!.
So, that’s two simple things you need to build into your sales process straight up.
- Get in first and get in as early as possible
- Persistence will pay off, so don’t give up at one attempt
Build follow-up speed into your process with automated email follow-ups (and use email templates to make this change quickly and consistently across your team). Here’s a simple way to make this automation happen with Pipedrive.
(Oh and here’s 15 follow up email templates here to get you started!)
The Problem With a Messy Pipeline
Panic, chaos and a lack of structure. It’s a recipe for disaster for any sales team.
WIthout a simplified sales process, managers and reps spend time focused on the wrong things at the wrong times. Or they just waste time trying in vain to prioritize somehow. This is when deals are lost and follow-ups are missed or neglected.
A messy pipeline is an unsustainable approach to sales.
If your pipeline is clogged with dead leads or those that have stalled, your team can’t give their attention to the most profitable ones.
You need your sales process to trade cold leads for hot leads. If you don’t have a regular process to purge poor leads from your pipeline, you’ll find it so much harder to prioritize your selling time - and you’ll start to lose miss those follow ups while your off chasing rubbish leads.
4 Steps You Need in Your Sales Process to Help Your Team Follow Up Effectively
Step 1 – Simplify your sales process
The first step is to strip everything back and create a simple sales process that focuses only on the things that matter and dumps unnecessary data and metrics.
Implementing an activity-based sales strategy means that your team concentrates on specific tasks with each of the leads at the appropriate stage of the process. They are clear on what they need to do and are no longer defined purely by the end result. They understand and are brought into the process, knowing if they do the right things at the right time with the best leads, the results will come.
Pipedrive’s visual sales pipeline is built around a proven sales pipeline management methodology. It’s a simple CRM with a visual user interface that gives you an overarching view of your pipeline and prompts you when action should be taken, ensuring you stay organized and in control of your sales process.
The automated reports let you focus on the KPIs that matter, pulling data quickly and easily.
Remember that bit about control? Going back to basics and focusing on a simple and tailored process ensures you retain that essential control.
Step 2 – Qualify leads effectively
Implementing lead qualification as part of your activity-based sales process ensures you find the best quality leads fast. You and your team will also feel several other benefits, including:
- Providing complete clarity for the entire team on how to analyze leads
- Reducing time wasted – this directly translates to reducing the potential for missed opportunities
- Removing pressure, anxiety and frustration from the team as they have clear direction and focus
You’ll also be increasing the number of good quality leads coming in. And we all know what that can do for the motivation of your sales team. A motivated team is a happy team.
Lead scoring is an essential way to ensure you qualify leads effectively. Using a tool like Zapier can also automate this process, removing time-consuming admin from the team.
Step 3 – Focus on the best potential customers
You want your team to spend their time researching the leads that matter. By ensuring they take time to build up the full picture of potential customers when following up, the follow up communication will be structured, well-researched and illustrate that essential confidence.
Pipedrive’s Smart Contact Data feature automates this process by collating valuable web-based insights about all your contacts. You can pre-qualify leads with one simple click ensuring you have more time to close with the ones that matter. This little clip shows you the wizardry in action:
Utilizing Pipedrive’s Contacts Timeline also enables you to nurture your leads and manage your follow ups. Specifically, you can:
- Have a clear view over who needs to be contacted next and when
- Set automated follow-ups for specific groups of contacts
This help you make sure your pipeline is tidy and helps you focus on the most valuable activities.
Step 4 – Dump the worst leads fast
There’s absolutely no reason for your team to spend any extra time on unnecessary tasks that don’t directly impact sales.
It’s so important to be able to think tactically. Sales reps need to move fast and focus on selling. You can’t afford to waste time analyzing and debating what is your next priority task. Too many cold leads will clutter your pipeline and hide the good leads away from you.
Your sales process needs to include a mechanism to find cold leads and purge them to help you focus on giving the best experience to the best leads.
You must clean up your pipeline regularly.
Analyze past customers to find out the most effective way to follow up
According to the Harvard Business Review, the best day of the week to make contact with follow-ups is either Wednesday or Thursday. They’ve also stated that the best time is between 4-5pm.
But does this work with your customers?
You need to analyze your past performance to find out whatworks bets.
Pipedrive’s Contacts Timeline also enables you to analyze your existing customers and your previous successful deals pulling unique data and insights. With a bit of analysis, you can establish when the “sweet spot” is for following up with your desired customer profile in your specific sector.
It could be Wednesday, Thursday, Tuesday or even Monday. 4, 5 or maybe 1pm?
The Contacts Timeline feature is super useful and really easy to use. You can even break down contacts by their region, job title or industry to further target your ideal follow up frequency.
How to Set Specific Follow-Up Frequencies for Different Types of Leads Within Your Sales Process
The cleverest new feature in the Contacts Timeline will simplify each key stage of the pipeline for your reps - further simplifying their process (and reducing the chance of neglecting to follow up properly).
Pipedrive’s Contacts Timeline feature gives you the ability to choose how often you want to follow up with your contacts.
The Follow-up Frequency feature will even prioritize your follow-up work for you by showing you which contacts in your filter should be contacted next. This message is triggered based on the custom follow-up cadence you set (which you can determine from your analytics and reporting).
Let’s say you would like to contact your CEO contacts once a quarter.
Just switch on the ‘Follow-up Frequency’ option and set it to ‘Quarterly’.
Now, all the CEOs you haven’t contacted within the last quarter (or those without a completed activity) will be highlighted in red and shuffled to the top of the list.
This is a real simple, but powerful tool to help you automate away the possibility of missing out on a deal due to poor follow ups.
With more time to focus on selling and clarity and confidence in this process - your reps will be contacting their leads at the right time and dedicating more time and energy on the right things.
Build These 4 Steps Into Your Sales Process to Make Sure You Never Miss Out on Follow-Ups Again
Never let another red hot lead slip through your fingers.
We all know how hard sales can be. There are so many variables. Some deals close and others don’t. You can’t afford to get lost in the confusion and uncertainty.
Retain control over your activities and make sure you sales process allows your reps to know the highest priority action to take at any given time. Do everything you can to find and close the deals that matter.
You will be confident knowing that your output is the most effective use of your time. Your reps shouldn’t have to waste time on prioritization. The best sales processes automate this decision-making, freeing your salespeople up to do what they do best:
Following up with hot leads and closing more deals!