Sales Follow Ups: A Complete Guide to Increasing Your Close Rates
Making the first contact with a new sales lead is (relatively) easy. The hard part is consistently following up.
As a salesperson, it’s your job to send that email, make a phone call, or reach out to your prospects in other ways. Once that’s done, it’s easy to kick back, relax, and wait for people to respond.
If that sounds like you, I’m here to tell you there’s a problem—you have no follow-up game.
I get it. Nobody wants to feel like they’re a pain in the ass. And you probably don’t love rejection either. But any sales rep contacting a prospect once and hoping for the best, is following the wrong approach.
Sales follow-ups are a key element of an effective sales process, and you need to become an expert at following up, in order to close more deals.
Ready to sharpen your follow-up skills? Let me introduce you to the follow-up process we’ve used to land thousands of new customers for our business here at Close.
What Is a Sales Follow-Up?
Let’s be real—nobody wants to be that annoying sales rep who won’t shut up. Which is why good sales follow-ups provide value to the prospect and give them the opportunity to say no.
My Follow-Up Philosophy That’s Guaranteed an Outcome
I’ve worked in some form of sales practically my entire adult life, from selling startup ideas to investors, selling services to small businesses, and selling software to sales teams. Through all of this, I’ve developed a very simple sales follow-up philosophy:
I keep following up until I get a response.
I don’t care what the response is as long as I get one. If someone tells me they need another 14 days to get back to me, I’ll put that in my calendar and ping them again in 14 days. If they tell me they’re busy, I’ll ask when to ping them again. If they tell me outright they’re not interested, I’ll leave them alone.
But here is the kicker—if they don’t respond at all, I’ll keep contacting them until they do. And trust me, they always do… eventually 😉
I once followed up 48 times with an investor who showed interest in my initial email. He finally responded, we met, and he ended up investing.
Want to implement my sales follow-up formula? Get the ultimate guide and follow along here:
7 Types of Sales Follow-Ups to Close More Deals
The medium you choose for your sales follow-ups will depend on what you’re looking for. For example, do you want an immediate yes or no response? Then a phone call will work wonders. Are you optimizing for a positive response? Then I’d recommend email (although be prepared to wait).
Here are the top seven methods to follow up with your prospects, plus some ideas on how to get started with them.
Sales Email Follow-Ups
The classic, the ultimate, the go-to strategy for following up—the email.
Emails are a great way to follow up because you can automate them, and it doesn’t require the person to tell you yes or no immediately. Follow-up emails are less invasive and thus can be a better strategy to turn a “maybe” into a “yes.”
Here are some best practices for following up via email:
- Keep it short, upbeat, and professional
- Use relevant email subject lines that remind the person of who you are (and why they should care)
- Automate follow-up emails with Workflows (Try it in Close)
Head over here to check out our most effective follow-up emails & templates.
Follow Up Calls
Phone calls are often part of salespeople’s follow-up process because it’s a great way to get in touch immediately with the prospect—much less waiting around for them to respond.
That said, If you call me ten times in two days, I’m probably going to turn you down even if I was actually interested. Because I’ll think, "Geez, working with this person is too much pain, I’ll pass."
Here are my tips for following up via phone calls:
- If you tried to call three times and the other person didn’t pick up the phone, call again and leave a voicemail (more calls than this, and you’ll come off as invasive or even desperate)
- Use a CRM with a built-in Predictive Dialer (like Close) to help you call lots of phone numbers in a short amount of time
- Keep fantastic notes of each phone call you have, and always set clear steps for the next touchpoint before you hang up
- Prepare follow-up voicemail scripts so you’re not grasping for words when they don’t pick up
Sales SMS and Texting Follow-Ups
SMS is generally an underutilized strategy for staying in contact with your prospects and customers. But it works—according to research, 90 percent of text messages are opened within three minutes.
If you’re using SMS follow-ups, here are some things to keep in mind:
- Keep it short and sweet to make sure your text messages are readable
- Make sure you comply with the regulations: to use SMS for sales, recipients must opt-in to receive messages from you, and should always have a way to easily unsubscribe
- Send at the right time of day for better response rates
Visiting in-person may not always be appropriate (or feasible), but it’s a great card to play when you’re in a do-or-die situation or circumstances make it convenient. I’ve used this follow-up technique, and it’s definitely the best way to really get someone’s attention.
That said, use this strategy sparingly and be sure to prepare well in advance to meet any foreseeable sales objections.
Social Media Follow-Ups
Communication on social media has become a major part of our everyday lives. Especially if you’re in B2B sales, maintaining a presence on platforms like LinkedIn can help you move deals forward.
The main advice I can give here is not to overdo this—otherwise, you could come off as creepy or a borderline stalker.
LinkedIn is actually a great platform for B2B sales follow-ups—check out our tips on how to do LinkedIn outreach right.
Use your judgment if you want to use this approach or not. It’s just another tool in your kit.
Depending upon the interactions you had and the relationship you share with a prospect though, a handwritten note can still make a really special impression. If you can pull this off while still being authentic (and it actually makes a difference)—do it. If it’s awkward, forced, or cheesy, don’t.
Follow Up by Fax
“It’s 2023. We’re a startup. Fax? Are you serious?”
If they didn’t respond to your emails and they didn’t pick up the phone, why not send them a fax?
Because nobody uses fax anymore!
Exactly. It’s the least cluttered medium you can use. There are still approximately 46 million (active) fax machines, and around 17 billion faxes get sent each year.
Again, view it as another tool at your disposal. Ninety-nine percent of the time, you won’t need it, but every once in a while, it might make a difference with the exact right type of prospect.
Why Do Sales Follow-Ups? Insane Benefits Backed by Real Data
Reality check—following up is hard. It takes time, effort, and doesn’t always lead to success.
So, why bother?
Here are four reasons the sales follow-up is a key weapon in your arsenal:
- Stand out from the crowd and grab more attention than your competitors: Studies show that 44 percent of salespeople give up after one follow-up call. Consistently following up means you’ll win the deals others are giving up on.
- Get a “yes” where at first you got a “no”: Most salespeople (92 percent) will give up after four “no’s,” but studies show that 80 percent of prospects will say “no” four times before they say “yes.”
- Reach more people: On average, it takes eight follow-up calls to reach a prospect. People are busy, and you’re not a priority for them—so patiently following up will pay off in the long run.
- The ultimate goal—close more deals! Research shows that only 2 percent of sales are closed in the first contact. So if you’re not following up, you could miss out on 98 percent of your potential sales!
Convinced? Let’s make following up part of your sales process.
Create Your Sales Follow-Up Process: How Often Should Salespeople Follow Up?
Following up is more art than science—the more you do it, the better you’ll get.
That said, how often you follow up with prospects will depend on the situation, the relationships, and any previous interactions you’ve had with the person.
To start, here’s a simple follow-up process I’ve developed and used successfully over the years:
- Day 1: First contact
- + 2 days: Follow up
- + 7 days: Follow up
- + 7 days: Follow up
- + 14 days: Follow up
- + 30 days: Follow up
- Still no response? Going forward, follow up once a month
Here’s how that might look if you’re following up with a mix of email and phone calls:
To set your own follow-up process, use these rules:
- If you’re doing cold outreach and have never interacted with this prospect before, follow up a maximum of six times. You don’t have a relationship with this person that gives you permission to do much more than that. At the end of this Workflow, you can send a breakup email.
- If you’ve already had some kind of interaction with this person but didn’t get a clear, definite “no,” then keep following up as long as it takes to get a response.
The team at Close uses our sales CRM to create automated sales workflows with phone, email, and SMS steps. These Workflows mirror your most successful follow-up frequency, and you can adjust them over time as needed—which makes it one of the best CRMs for small businesses (in my opinion).
Emails are sent out automatically on the schedule that you specify, and you'll be notified when it's time to call. Best of all, you can see how your sales leads respond to each follow-up in your Workflow.
How to Follow Up with Sales Leads: 7 Strategies and Best Practices
Let’s take your sales follow-up skills to the next level. Here are nine techniques I’ve used over the decades to get consistent results from my follow-up efforts. Do this, and you’ll be guaranteed to close more deals.
1. Show Product Value with Your Sales Follow-Up Email
To provide real value, you need to know your ideal customer as intimately as you know your best friend. Then you can use your follow-ups to subtly remind them of their pain points and how your offering can solve those problems.
An effective sales tactic here is to use client testimonials, reviews, or social proof in your email to convey the value.
Here’s an example:
When to use this follow-up technique:
Providing value can also go beyond your product. Once you know your prospect well enough, you can use your follow-ups to offer them valuable content. It can be an article or something else that they’ll appreciate getting. But keep your objective in mind—giving things away is not selling. It’s a jab, not a right hook.
2. Use Personalized Videos for Better Follow-Up
Sales professionals have found success with tactics that are out of the box, such as an engaging video addressed directly to their prospects.
In today’s world, recording a personalized video is easier than you think and can be highly effective in closing deals—you can see significantly higher click-through rates and response rates using personalized video. Plus, tools like SendSpark help you create these personalized videos at scale.
Keep this as natural as possible and to the point. Make sure it’s extremely relevant to your audience, maybe even by including supporting screen captures of their website or social media account.
When to use this follow-up technique:
These personalized follow-ups aren’t being used by as many salespeople as you’d think—so this is a powerful strategy to help you stand out from the crowd anytime you have a deal that’s close to the finish line.
3. Clearly Specify Next Steps
Be specific with your prospective client about what happens next in the process.
For example, if you have had a demo with a client or a sales pitch, book the next meeting right there and then.
If the prospect’s company needs to view proposals from other companies, try to stand out and remain top of mind by being specific and well organized.
If necessary, get a decision-maker involved and check in with your prospects a day before your planned meeting.
When you leave each interaction with a clear plan of when you’ll speak again, you reduce the risk of prospects ghosting you or letting the deal fall through the cracks.
4. Keep It Brief, But Effective
When following up with new customers, keep it punchy and to the point, and be cautious of rambling on too much.
Often sales calls can be shorter than expected due to busy schedules, so aim to be intentional, to the point and show value as soon as possible.
Here's a proven script for opening a sales follow-up call:
Stay persistently friendly and nice. Have an attitude of indifference if they don’t respond. Impress them by staying on top of your game.
5. Take an Omnichannel Approach
We’ve talked above about the different channels you could use for following up. But remember: none of these need to be used exclusively.
The best follow-up approach is one that uses multiple channels. So, mix it up—try some email, throw in a little phone, spice it up with some SMS.
Being truly omnichannel means giving your prospects a consistent experience across different platforms. Doing this leads to delightful customer interactions and faster sales cycles.
6. Avoid Using Guilt as a Motivator
When you become emotionally invested in the deal, it can hurt when the prospect doesn’t respond to you. That’s when the danger of using guilt comes in. Saying something like: “Why haven’t you responded to me? I've sent you ten emails already!” can seriously damage your relationship with this person.
Remember: your prospect doesn’t owe you anything. Never, ever make them feel or do anything guilt-inducing.
7. Evaluate Your Sales Follow-Up Strategies
Take time to measure your results and evaluate them in order to refine your sales process. In your next set of sales follow-ups, use this data to gain your prospect’s attention and increase your conversion rates.
Here are some metrics you should be tracking:
- Email response rates and open rates
- Conversion rates for different follow-up channels
- Conversion rates for different calls to action (CTAs), or other elements in your follow-ups
- Response rates for each step in your follow-up sequence
- Call connection rates
Use these metrics to analyze exactly what’s working and what’s not within your sales follow-up process. Are your sequences losing steam after a certain point? Try to make them shorter. Are your reply rates low on your first follow-up? Try to reframe the message. Is a certain channel just not converting well? Remove it from your playbook.
Analyzing and adjusting your sales follow-up strategies is an ongoing process. What works today may not work next year. So, keep tracking the right sales metrics, and you’ll know exactly where to make adjustments.
Sales Follow-Up Email Templates & Scripts You Can Swipe
If you’re looking for follow-up email templates and scripts, we’ve got you covered: Here are some email templates and call scripts you can use when following up with potential customers.
Short Follow-Up Email Templates for When a Prospect Goes Cold
Keeping it short and sweet is the best way to get a response. Don’t overwhelm your prospects with long paragraphs of text: seriously, no one is reading that.
Instead, use a series of short emails like this when your prospects go cold:
Cold Email Follow Up Template
If you’re reaching out cold and trying to follow up via email, here’s a template you can swipe:
This template works because you’ll either get in contact with the person you need, or they’ll send a referral to the right contact.
Phone Call Follow-Up Script
Not sure if you have the right person? Trying to get a follow-up response over the phone? Try this follow-up script:
Voicemail Follow-Up Script
How many times have your cold calls gone to voicemail recently? Having something clear in mind to say when you hear the beep is crucial to getting callbacks (or at the very least, leaving a good impression).
Use this voicemail script for follow-up calls:
Build a Future-Proof Follow-Up Strategy for Your Sales Team
While sales may adapt and change over time, follow-ups are one piece of the puzzle that isn’t going away. AI tools may help you optimize your process, but there’s nothing like the simple human gesture of reaching out, from one person to another.
So, solidify your follow-up strategy using the steps above. Keep testing different methods, analyze the data to see what works, and then set up a clear playbook for following up.
When you do this, your team will be able to close deals faster using a proven follow-up strategy that works for your audience.
Want to maximize your follow-up efforts? Get your team the CRM that helps them sell faster while staying out of their way. Try a free trial of Close today, or watch our on-demand demo to see how it works.