On average, our internal research shows that it takes about 90 dials between prospects before an appointment is set. These dials vary from a first dial to a follow-up call, which is why nurturing leads is so important for B2B appointment setting.
A sales follow-up is when sales development representatives (SDRs) reach out to potential customers after they decline an initial meeting with your company. After a prospect initially declines a meeting, it’s important to nurture the lead so you can meet them when the timing makes the most sense for them.
Lead nurturing is when an SDR routinely follows up with prospects to learn more about them, their situation, and build relationships over time. This is a way to gain trust between the prospect and sales rep to learn more about what they value from a B2B partnership.
While many sales reps are afraid of the follow-up, it’s a crucial step in building and maintaining a sustainable sales pipeline. Without following up, your sales efforts are limited and result in little to no results.
In this blog, we’ll focus on the following topics:
Every sales team has its own approach to following up with a prospect. Many use various techniques to follow up with prospective businesses. Traditionally, there are two ways that SDRs follow up with potential customers:
Sales follow-up phone calls are when an SDR reaches back out to the prospect, as you could assume, via phone call. Since a phone call is typically the first interaction between a sales rep and a prospect, this is generally the desired approach for sales teams.
A good rule of thumb for following up with prospects is to reach out after three months of them saying they’re not interested in learning more about your company’s product or service. This gives the prospect a chance to think over their options and you can reach them when they may be looking to make a change. However, it’s important to ask prospects when they typically reevaluate their budget or current outsourced contracts. This gives the sales team a better understanding of when to reach back out when the timing makes the most sense for them.
Most sales reps prefer to follow up with prospects in a phone call because it’s the most direct form of communication and they can get all the answers they need almost instantly. If they don’t answer the first few times around, remember to leave a voicemail with your contact information so they have a way to call you back. However, when a prospect is difficult to reach by the phone, then fall back on a sales follow-up email.
Sales follow-up emails are similar to follow-up phone calls but are an attempt to reach the prospect by email. This is not the desired approach for setting up B2B sales appointments because sales reps can’t get the answers they need instantly. Follow-up emails are the second option to follow up with prospects who sales reps can’t reach by phone. Rather than not communicating at all, this is a different form of communication that may be more convenient for the potential customer.
While a sales follow-up email is not the desired approach to communicating with prospects, it is a great way to get your sales enablement material in front of prospects. By sending emails, you can attach relevant sell sheets and videos that highlight the impact your company’s made on similar businesses.
As mentioned previously, very few prospects agree to meet for an appointment after the first phone call. While many sales teams dread the idea of following up with prospects, it lands the most appointments because it meets the leads when the timing is right for them. A lead nurturing strategy allows sales reps to reconnect with prospects when their contracts are up, they’re reassessing their budget, or they’re ready to make financial moves. Without a sales follow-up plan, you risk leaving hot leads in the dust when they’re ready to buy. Implementing a lead nurturing campaign provides top-of-mind awareness and converts sales leads into full-blown deals closed.
SDRs are crucial in your sales enablement strategy because they help you qualify leads and nurture relationships with prospective businesses. Read our blog to discover other ways SDRs can help you with sales enablement.
One of the most significant downfalls of a cold calling sales and marketing strategy is that sales teams don’t know how to follow up with prospects effectively. Do your sales reps call prospects back too frequently after a pitch? Do you switch up sales reps too often? Here are some of the best ways to follow up in sales:
As mentioned above, there are various ways to conduct a sales follow-up with prospects, like making phone calls or sending emails. While many sales teams may prefer one method over another, taking advantage of both methods helps you get the most out of your sales efforts.
For example, if you’ve called a hot HVAC lead three to four times and you’ve had no luck getting them on the phone, send them an email with relevant content and your contact information so they have a way to reach you when they’re ready. On the other hand, if you’ve sent them a couple of emails, consider calling them to see if you can get a hold of them. By taking advantage of various sales follow-up methods, you increase your likelihood of setting up an appointment between them and your account executive (AE).
While phone calls and emails are the most common ways that SDRs follow up with prospects, some sales teams like to utilize social media platforms to connect and nurture leads. LinkedIn is designed to be a business networking platform, so why couldn’t you use this for your lead nurturing strategy? When used correctly, LinkedIn is an incredibly powerful lead generation tool that can maximize your ROI.
One of the biggest fears of cold calling is being too invasive and disruptive of the potential customer’s workday. However, when you space out your sales follow-up efforts, you can be professionally persistent and only call them when it’s relevant.
For example, if a lead for your commercial cleaning company says their contract ends in three months and to follow up then, you wouldn’t call them back every two weeks to see where they are in their evaluation process. It’s important to respect the space and the boundaries of your prospects. When you don’t space out your follow-up efforts, you risk losing hot leads who would have converted into customers. Following up too frequently could turn off potential clients from your company, and they could end up partnering with your competitor.
One of the most effective ways to space out your follow-up efforts is to take advantage of a customer relationship management (CRM) platform. By utilizing a CRM platform like Salesforce Sales Cloud, you can set a date to call the prospect back. This ensures that you follow up with them when the timing makes the most sense and nothing falls through the cracks.
In addition to spacing out sales follow-up efforts, it’s crucial to create a follow-up schedule. While this is important to ensure that you’re not checking in with prospects too frequently, it also allows you to connect with leads when they’re in the office. For example, if you were able to catch the prospect for the first time in the morning, call them in the morning when you follow up because they’ll more than likely be available and in the office. Since business hours range from region to region, it’s also important to remember the time zones you’re calling and their typical business hours. By setting up a follow-up schedule, you ensure that you connect with the right prospect at the right time.
When you think about it, lead nurturing is like cooking a twice-baked potato. While the baked potato itself is great and delicious, it’s even better with all the layers of cheese, sour cream, bacon, and additional toppings. And now that we’re all hungry, let’s get to the point.
Lead nurturing involves adding value to every conversation you have with the prospect after the initial phone call. Since we know that not every prospect says “yes” after an initial phone call, SDRs have to give them a reason to say yes. Think of each layer of value as an additional topping to your lead nurturing twice-baked potato.
If the prospect says they respect company missions and values, the first layer could be going in-depth with your company history. If the prospect emphasizes that their current provider is capable of completing a variety of tasks, the second layer could be to highlight your product and service offering. If the lead wants to learn more about work you’ve done with companies like theirs, the third layer could be explaining a client testimonial. As you add more layers, the more appetizing your company looks—much like the twice-baked potato. While each company may have different layers, the process of nurturing a lead is essentially the same and leads you to the results you’re wanting.
The point is while it would be great if the prospect said “yes” to an additional meeting, the conversations that build up during the lead nurturing process continue to get better and better. This will lead you to a more qualified and value-focused appointment. In addition to the prospect agreeing to the meeting, this also reduces the no-show rate because it gives them a reason to attend the appointment with your AEs.
Here are topics of discussion to provide value in your sales follow-up efforts:
- Company history
- Products or services delivered
- Process of completing product or service
- Client testimonials
- Statistics (such as the number of clients, projects delivered, client retention rate, etc.)
While sales reps can verbally promote these topics of discussion, marketing collateral is a great addition to your B2B appointment setting efforts because it can support your business in a more visually appealing way. Marketing collateral includes different types of eye-catching graphics to emphasize your company, such as brochures, sell sheets (white papers), promotional videos, and more. These assets can be sent to prospects in an email or embedded into your website to help them reach the end of their buyer’s journey.
In addition, a pitch deck can be used by AEs during appointments set by SDRs to keep the potential customer engaged throughout the sales presentation.
While there are a lot of prospect follow-up mistakes that SDRs make, one of the most significant is not defining the next steps for the prospects. The next steps could include saying, “I’m going to send over an email with some dates and times. Let me know what works best for you. If I don’t hear back, I’ll give you a call a week from today to touch base. Does this time usually work best for you?”
When defining the next steps, be as specific as possible. Using vague terminology like “I’ll call you next week” could include various times or dates. By giving a specific date and time, they can anticipate your call.
If you’re following up with a prospect by email, a strong subject line encourages them to open the message. Business owners receive emails all the time, and most of them never get opened because they don’t apply to them. When you have an action-focused subject line, they’re more likely to open the email because they believe they need to do something for it.
In addition to being action-focused, personalize the subject line with their personal or company name so they know it’s specific to them. A prospect is much less likely to open a generalized email because they know it’s also being sent to a variety of other businesses like theirs.
Before you start writing your subject line, be aware of the subject line writing best practices:
- Keep it short and to the point
- Use a conversational, personable tone
- Develop a sense of urgency
- Ask a direct question
- Make it clear that the email contains valuable content
An effective subject line could be what transitions them from a lead into a customer. Nobody opens an email with a boring subject line, so make sure yours stands out and is unique to their wants and needs.
Business owners and key decision-makers (KDMs) are busy people, which means they don’t have a significant amount of time to spend reading long emails or talking on the phone for a sales follow-up. When your sales reps follow up with prospects, have them remember to keep the conversation engaging, yet brief and to the point. During this short timeframe, make sure you grab the prospect’s attention and make them want to take additional actions.
As much as we hate to see it, breaking up with qualified leads can be hard, but necessary. Leads can only be leads for so long until they either convert into customers or tell you that they’re no longer interested in your product or service. When they say they’re no longer looking for a solution or ghost you overall, respect them and their time. After following up with leads day in and day out, it can become pushy, invasive, and pointless.
When a lead is no longer interested or leaves you on read, don’t be aggressive or try and sell them harder. Respect their space and let them know that the door is always open if things don’t work out with their current service provider. This puts your company in a good light and leaves things on a positive note.
While you decide to give them space, this doesn’t mean that you have to remove them from the sales pipeline. As we know, timing is everything in the sales industry. Although they’re not looking for your product or service right now, it doesn’t mean they won’t be interested in the future. Keep the prospect in the sales pipeline and follow up a few times a year just to see how things are with their current provider. Use this time to identify pain points and what they expect out of an outsourced service provider.
As we know, prospects aren’t likely to agree to an appointment after an initial call. Lead nurturing is essential to build and sustain your sales pipeline because it allows your sales team to follow up with prospects when they’re ready to make moves through the sales funnel. When you use advanced sales tools and technologies, like Salesforce, the lead nurturing process is much more streamlined than if you were to follow up with leads by marking your calendar.
While many businesses believe that cold calling is dead, we’re here to tell you that it’s alive and well, but only when it’s practiced correctly. By following our best practices for sales follow-ups, you increase the likelihood of converting sales leads into long-term customers. However, if a lead isn’t biting, respect their space and put them in the back of the sales pipeline.
Are you looking to optimize the way you follow up with sales prospects in your B2B appointment setting efforts? Contact our sales reps at Abstrakt Marketing Group to learn how we’ve been able to help businesses like yours maximize their ROI!