Lead follow-up and why it is important to Small Businesses

Lead follow-up as a component of sales process

A lead follow-up process is an important part of an organization’s sales process. When referring to sales process, we mean the entire process from initial marketing to converting a lead to a customer – such as marketing tactics used, how many people it will reach, how many people will call you after receiving the marketing, acquisition costs, close rates, sales presentation and overcoming objections, trial closes, asking for the sale, and either converting to a customer or placing the lead on a follow-up schedule.

The lead follow-up component of the sales process ensures continued follow-up until the sales person gets a yes or actual no – an actual no is when the prospect says I don’t want your service/product ever – not when the prospect can’t be reached (because the sales person only called 3 to 5 times) or when the prospect says – I can’t do it RIGHT NOW.

​The timing isn’t right for that prospect – that’s why a consistent lead follow-up process will continually touch base with that prospect until the timing is right.
That timing could be next week or 3 years from now – that’s why we must keep all prospects in the sales pipeline and continue follow-up until the prospect is ready!

Depending on the value of the product/service, the lead follow-up schedule will vary in several ways including medium used for follow-up, how often follow-up attempts are made, lead type (customer or prospect), and the length of time.

A lead follow-up process must include specifics of what/when/where/how/why to help sales people understand why it is important, what lead follow-up means really (perspective is reality), how lead follow-up will be completed, what will be used to follow-up (call, text, email), and when follow-ups should be made after the initial contact and for how long.

An example of this would be – to increase long-term close rates, new sales people should use this lead follow-up schedule for follow-ups related to new prospects – within 24 hours a sales person gives a price estimate or sales presentation, the sales person calls to see if the prospect has any questions.

The sales person enters a calendar reminder or adds reminder in a relationship management tool to call within 24 hours of speaking to the prospect. After that touch point, (assuming contact was made) the sales person puts a reminder to follow-up with the prospect in 3 business days (email), then 7 business days (text if opted in), then 2 weeks (call), 4 weeks (email), 2 months (text if opted in), 4 months (text if opted in), 5 months call 5 times during the month, and so on.

As small business owners know, sales is a numbers game – there is a formula or a specific number of calls or visits that need to be completed in order to close on a sale. What many sales people forget is that lead follow-up should also be treated the same - a certain amount of touches or contacts are needed to convert a prospect into a customer.

As shown in the meme above, 48% of sales people never follow-up with a prospect and only 10% of sales people make more than 3 contacts, but 80% of sales are made on the 5th to 12th contact. These numbers are not surprising, many sales people try to contact someone a couple of times and then move on to the next person.

That lead came in because of marketing tactics that your small business is running and paying for – each lead has a cost and hopefully a return on investment in the long-term.

For example, let’s say your business paid $35.00 for a lead (someone with confirmed interest in your service/product). The lead is given to a sales person for follow-up – let’s assume the sales person calls the lead 3 times, but doesn’t reach the prospect. The sales person doesn’t call the lead again. If there is not a specific, defined lead follow-up process that dictates when leads should be followed-up on, the lead cost may not be an efficient use of marketing dollars - the cycle of not following up increases the acquisition cost for the sale, since it ends before it starts.

Automation or even adding a manual process to help ensure leads are worked until they are sold could help decrease the acquisition cost of the sale. However, if other areas of the sales process are under performing or lacking such as sales presentation, improving the lead follow-up process may not impact acquisition costs, like improving sales people’s ability to share their story. The entire process, every component of the sales process must work or fit together well – like a puzzle piece to perform at optimal efficiency and effectiveness.

If your small business needs help optimizing your entire sales process or just the lead follow-up component, reach out to Comprehensive Consulting Solutions for Small Businesses to learn how we may be able to help!