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6 Steps To Build A Winning Sales Follow-Up Strategy

Posted by Margarita Yepes
on Dec 1, 2017 7:05:53 AM

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You’ve crafted and sent out your 3-email sequence to targeted accounts and replied to some of your inbound website leads to schedule time to meet. Now you wait. If your leads are interested, they will reply… right?Getting the ball rolling is easy. But if you don’t follow-up, you can lose your best leads to someone who will.

Developing valuable relationships and accompanying your leads through their buying journey doesn’t end after one or two touch points. It’s your responsibility to make sure the deal progresses forward. It’s not just bumping up the number of times you follow-up, you have to provide value every time.

As sales professionals, we’re always looking for the magic formula for sales success. The right subject line, the best time to call a prospect, etc., but nothing beats creating your own process and building follow-up habits that works for you and your leads.

Below are 6 steps to help you get started building your follow-up strategy:

  1. Follow-up commitment
  2. Number of touchpoints
  3. Channels
  4. Time between touchpoints
  5. Messaging
  6. Iteration


1. Get commitment for the follow-up

One of the first mistakes a lot of reps make is not agreeing with their prospect on a specific date and time for a 2nd call or follow-up meeting at the end of their first call. They’ll close the conversation by saying “I’ll follow-up in a couple of days” which likely results in missed calls, voicemail messages and ultimately a longer sales cycle.

Who is the right person to tell you when to follow-up? Your prospect. So go ahead and ask them!  

“I’m going to email you our proposal, and what I recommend is that we set up a follow-up call for Wednesday the 18th at 10:30am to review it in detail with your team and determine next steps. Is that a good time for you?

If it’s not a good time, get them to tell you a time and date. Send them an invite while you’re still on the call so they can’t avoid it.


2. Determine the number of touchpoints

Every sales professional that works on prospecting knows that the chances of connecting with a lead on the first attempt are slim. Especially if you’re calling busy decision makers that typically need to be called several times before getting through.

On the other hand, you can respond immediately to an inbound lead, but if you throw in the towel too early, it’s still not going to cut it. According to InsideSales, 80% of sales require five follow-up calls, but 44% sales reps give up after 1 attempt. In other words, if you simply increase your call attempts to at least 5, you’ll be 80% more likely to close a sale!

Steffi Eli, CEO at Close.io offers the following recommendations:

  • If you’re reaching out cold leads, follow up a maximum of six times. You really don’t have the type of relationship that gives you permission to do much more than that.
  • If you already had some kind of interaction, then follow up as long as it takes to get a response. Even if it ends up being a negative one.


3. Diversify your approach

While it’s vital to reach out multiple times to be able to generate a viable sales lead, it’s also important to diversify the channels you use.  

Email is the channel that you can use more frequently and for a longer period of time as it feels less intrusive. However, you’ll be competing for visibility in your prospect’s cluttered inbox.

If you’re looking to move the needle and accelerate leads through the buying process, a more urgent channel like a phone call works best. It can generate instant feedback and uncover valuable intelligence about your prospects that would take much longer to gather via online methods.

If you can start a conversation with your leads through email, social media and calls, you’ll have twice the opportunity to bring them further through the sales funnel.


4. Distribute your touchpoints 

Our customers often ask us how often should they check in with their prospects. You can either:  

1) Be a little more persistent early on, then prolong touch points if the lead hasn’t opened or responded to your messages. This works best for inbound leads who are typically sales-ready and need a more aggressive follow-up.

2) Space out the time between initial follow-ups and then shorten it for the later ones, that way your prospects get the sense that urgency is growing vs. decreasing. This works better for outbound leads who know little to nothing about your company and need more time to learn about and consider your solution. 

Here is an example of a cadence that we’ve found works well:
- Day 1: LinkedIn / Email  
- Day 3: Email / Call (Introduction)
- Day 7: Email
- Day 14: Call (voicemail) / Email
- Day 21: Video
- Day 28: Call

This allows time for a connection to be built, to ask questions and for the buyer journey to progress naturally.


5. Define your messaging

Starting each touchpoint with “I’m following-up on” or “I wanted to check in” can definitely discourage prospects.

Here are a few tips to make your content stand out:

  • Keep your name in front of them: with a virtual smile, an email, a video, a direct mail.  
  • Keep it short: avoid long-winded formalities. Be nice, but get to the point.  
  • Remind them of their interest: use the hot button items that you uncovered in the last conversation. Use their terminology.
  • Bring new value to the table: know and understand their wants and needs well enough to be able to offer them something relevant.
  • Never make them feel bad or guilty: avoid things like "I've sent you a couple of emails already but you haven't responded to me so far".

5. Report consistently

Once you have established your follow-up strategy and put it into action, make sure you record the results: the times of day your leads respond better, the types of messages that are more relevant, and how many touch points affect the success of your follow-up and iterate accordingly.


If you’re still working on building the perfect sales call cadence, we can give you best practices on creating a simple and effective follow-up workflow that will help you book more meetings and close more deals.

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Topics: Outbound Calling, Lead Generation

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