A commonly asked question when I am doing sales training is, “When should I follow up with a prospect?” Obviously, that’s a very open-ended question and one with many different specific answers depending on your industry, the prospect, the buying cycle, etc. However, the one answer I always give is this: “Follow up BEFORE you’re expected to.”
So, what does that mean?
Whenever you don’t close your prospect you should ask the question, “How and when would you like for me to follow up with you?”
Many times this will open the door for more opportunities to close the sale right then, but at the very least it will give you some insight into how the prospect would like to communicate in the future. No matter what they say, WRITE IT DOWN.
But, you are going to totally ignore what they tell you. Why? Because they are most likely telling all your competition the same thing. For example, if they tell you to follow up in the middle of March, you should be calling on them at the end of February. This will give you the opportunity to be first—and ahead of the competition when the buying decision is being made.
I’ve told automotive salespeople to follow up as soon as the prospect drives off the lot. Think about that, if the prospect doesn’t buy, call them as you see their taillights leaving the dealership.
If you are in real estate, follow up as soon as the prospective buyer has left the open house or the showing. If you’re in retail, follow up before they have time to get home.
In most cases, they are going to go somewhere else and buy! By the time you follow up, the prospect has already bought. So, what have you got to lose by getting them back to the negotiating table as soon as possible?
The bottom line is this: follow up sooner than you are expected to. This will put you ahead of your competition and give you a better chance to be the person that the buyer does business with.
Whenever you follow up, you should always have NEW information for the prospect. Nothing is more unprofessional than calling “just to touch base and see if you’ve made a decision”. Make sure you are adding value to the relationship even prior to the sale.