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Sales Relationship Intelligence

5 Tips to Master The Follow-Up, According to Experts

By Rebecca Hinds

Very few deals are closed during the first touchpoint with a customer. According to Hubspot, 80% of sales require at least five follow-ups in order for the deal to reach “Closed Won” status. While the number of touches varies according to the complexity of the deal and may include dozens or hundreds of touches, the deal cycle is laden with the opportunity for effective follow-ups.

One of the most effective (but often overlooked) ways to increase sales efficiency and success is to follow up with prospects customers.

There’s an art and science associated with the follow-up:

1. Follow up with prospects and customers promptly

According to research by customer service expert Leslie O'Flahavan, 44% of customers expect a faster response to their inquiries. With customers doing more of their research upfront, they are engaging with vendors later and later in the buying cycle. They are more educated than ever before when they engage with vendors and expect vendors to respond to their queries in a timely manner.

Research by InsideSales.com has found that 35-50% of sales go to the vendor that is fastest to respond to prospects' inquiries. When a prospect initiates engagement with you, time is of the essence. Your response time will dictate your success.

2. Use the follow-up to build trust with prospects and customers

According to research by marketing expert Robert Clay, only 2% of sales occur when two parties interact for the first time. “The other 98% will buy once a certain level of trust has been built up.” The follow-up is essential to establishing this trust. Clay explains, sales people “build relationships and trust by engaging in ongoing dialogue (otherwise known as follow-up).”

When following up with prospects and customers, it’s important not to barrage customers with sales promotions. Follow-ups can be as simple as a check-in email. They can also include gifts, hand-written notes, and other personal touches. The objective should be to add value. According to Clay, “[Effective sales people] don’t just peddle their products and services with an armoury of closing tricks.”

Use the follow-up to demonstrate that you’re more interested in generating a long-term relationship than a short-term sale.

3. Use the follow-up to proactively resolve issues

Follow-ups efforts can be equally as effective after a sale as they are prior to one. Following up with customers after a sale is an important mechanism of gaining feedback. According to Ruby Newell-Legner, a fan experience expert, a typical business hears from only 4% of its dissatisfied customers.

The most effective salespeople commit to following up with customers after a transaction is made. Use the follow-up as an opportunity to ask whether customers are satisfied with your offering. Are they experiencing unforeseen issues?

When you follow up with customers simply to ask for feedback about a purchase, you’re able to proactively identify and address issues. Ultimately, you reduce the potential for churn and negative customer experiences.

4. Use the follow-up to obtain product suggestions

The follow-up should also be leveraged as an avenue to obtain suggestions for new product developments and interactions. Customers often have the best pulse into your products and services Several studies have shown that most successful innovations are customer-originated.

Use the follow-up as an opportunity to gather suggestion for product improvements. According to a report by HBR, "Keeping in regular contact with customers so as to deliver new information to them and gather suggestions for product improvements can ensure the continued satisfaction of existing customers and improve the chances of meeting the needs of potential purchasers."

By actively soliciting ideas and suggestions for product improvements, you're not only more likely to identify successful new innovations, you'll also increase rapport with customers by demonstrating that you genuinely appreciate and listen to their input.

5. Follow up with existing customers on an ongoing basis

Follow-ups are quintessential in terms of nurturing existing customers. According to the book "Marketing Metrics", the probability of selling to an existing customer is 60 to 70%, while the probability of selling to a new prospect is only 5-20%.

The best way to increase revenue from your existing customer base is to be vigilant about follow-up with customers on a regular basis. Sending periodic emails to existing customers with information about new products or features, for example, can ensure you stay top of mind. Ongoing follow-ups will heighten your ability to secure upsell and cross-sell opportunities.

Affinity is a powerful tool to help you master the art and science of the follow-up. Affinity will proactively let you know when it's time to follow up with prospects and customers.

You can also set up rules and reminders to make sure your relationships never go stale. Check out the product in action. Affinity acts as your safety net, ensuring your most important relationships don't fall through the cracks.
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Sales Relationship Intelligence