As a small-business owner or manager, you probably try to spend as much time as possible on marketing strategies to bring new leads in, whether through working on your search engine optimization, advertising in relevant publications, utilizing social media  sites, or various other avenues. You might even do what you can to track digital leads through programs like Google Analytics and the like. However, how much time and effort do you put into actually following up on those leads when they come in? This is an incredibly important part of the sales process, but one that many people don’t devote enough energy to.
There are many different things that you can do to effectively follow up on sales leads your marketing activities generate. From contacting people quickly and continuing to check in with them over time, to keeping an up-to-date database and measuring results, there is more to good follow-up than just one simple communication.
Read on for the lowdown on tips you can use to follow up on sales leads.
Follow Up on Sales Leads Quickly
The first important thing to note when you follow up on sales leads is that you must do so in a timely manner. While you might think that it’s no problem to get in touch within a couple of weeks, plenty of research shows that the sooner you do it, the better.
According to the Harvard Business Review , companies that follow up within an hour of receiving an online query from a potential customer are actually almost seven times as likely to qualify that lead (have a good discussion with a key decision maker) than those who contact prospects only an hour later. Furthermore, following up in this time period made companies more than 60 times more likely to qualify the lead than those that waited a whole day or more to make contact.
This makes sense when you think about the fact that each hour that goes by when your company isn’t speaking to a potential customer is time in which another firm can be. Consumers these days expect to find information quickly and often won’t wait around for a business to get back to them with details or a quote. Stop your organization from coming in second place by being the first to respond to each query.
Stay in Touch
Next, keep in mind the phrase “recency and frequency.” This basically refers to the fact that people buy when they’re ready to complete a purchase and want to satisfy a need or a want, rather than when businesses want to sell to them.
When consumers are ready to spend money, they will typically choose the company that is on the top of their mind; this usually means the business which has been in contact with them most recently, or that one that stays in touch most frequently.
To be the first business a customer thinks of when they’re ready to purchase, you need to follow up regularly and religiously. Consistency is key here, and generally relies on having systems in place, as well as educating inquirers on your products and services more and more over time.
To ensure that your leads are followed up with every week, month, quarter, or year (depending on what is most relevant to your product or service type), you should utilize software programs or apps which are designed to keep track of sales calls and emails. Alternatively, you might decide to design your own system that has the same function.
You should always have an up-to-date database on file that keeps all the relevant lead information together in one place, and which notes at which stage of the sales funnel each potential customer currently sits. This database is the perfect place to keep notes about previous interactions with each lead, as well as the products or services they have expressed interest in in the past.
Test and Measure
A sales lead process can only ever be as good as possible if it is improved and refined over time. To do this, you must continually test and measure your process and the results you achieve from it. As you might have heard mentioned by marketers and other business people in the past, “You can’t improve what you don’t measure.”
To most effectively follow up on leads, you must keep track of a variety of information. For example, note how many leads you receive each day or week; how long it takes for someone in the company to respond to each lead initially; what percentage of leads are turned into qualified prospects; and what number of leads are actually converted into paying customers.
Goals should be set for each of these areas, and then measured on a monthly, if not weekly, basis. Once you have the results of these tests, you can then fine-tune each element of your follow-up process in order to keep achieving goals.
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