Have you ever ordered something on Amazon or eBay, and then after the product was delivered, you received an email asking about your experience?
It’s become more and more common for online sellers to send out follow up messages about anything you buy from them, ranging from toothpaste to vintage bookends.
This happens because follow-ups are an extremely valuable tool for business owners. Not only can they increase customer loyalty, they also give you the opportunity to learn about the sales process and “buyer’s journey” that your clients or potential clients are currently experiencing.
Another type of follow-up, however, is perhaps more painful for a sales team to directly deal with – following up on a prospect that is not yet a customer, but showed some initial interest, or that you had a conversation with that didn’t lead to an immediate sale.
The Problem: Follow-Ups Are Time Consuming and Messy
Sales workers, ranging from eBay sellers to Fortune 500 CEOs, know the importance of follow-ups. We’re sure you do too. The problem most business owners face is the fact that follow-ups are incredibly time consuming and prone to disorganization, especially if you’re working with a lot of leads or existing customers.
If you’ve ever found yourself in the unfortunate position where you think, “Oh, no! I meant to call them back!”, odds are you need a better system for follow-ups.
Don’t worry, most sales-oriented business people have faced this problem, but it’s important to not let it get any worse than it already is. Part of the best practices for sales follow-up with technology is to put the right tools to work.
A Word on Customer Relationship Management Software
For many individuals in a sales oriented career, customer relationship management (CRM) software is a major component (or the only component) to their follow up strategy.
CRM platforms range in complexity from “address books on steroids” to enterprise-tier management systems. Most sales people find their needs fall somewhere in the middle, and products like Salesforce, Zoho CRM, or Highrise will occasionally fit the bill.
Regardless of the developer, a good CRM system should allow the user to:
- Have a robust task tracking system which alerts the user about who needs to be contacted, when, and what to talk about, thus eliminating the need to “try to remember” when to follow up.
- Manage individual profiles for leads and existing customers with customizable data fields.
- Send emails to these individuals or organizations from within the platform itself, both automatically and manually.
- Analyze their sales process and easily discover problem areas which could be improved.
Since good CRM software gives you a detailed look at your clients, leads, and the status of projects, you suddenly have a significant advantage over your competition. What would it mean for your business if you never forgot to make an important phone call again?
Automating Follow-up: The Only Way to Make This Cost Effective
If you already have a CRM or have worked in one in the past, you know that despite the features mentioned above than can help you track and be reminded of when a conversation should occur, few CRMs do a good job of automatically nurturing and providing a trickle of value to prospects. In our opinion, all sales professionals should be employing omni-channel marketing in conjunction with their manual follow-up, namely, they should have software that automates email and social based sequences.
Perhaps the best way to illustrate this is with a real-world example. One solution that we use at Unstoppable is called ConvertKit, which is a tool that allows content creators to gather email addresses, distribute lead magnets, and build email sequences.
One example of how we automate follow-up using this tool is:
- Create a blog post, such as our “7 Steps to Creating More User-Friendly Software Systems” article.
- On this article, you’ll notice there’s a webform that allows you to enter your email address (subscribing to our list) if you want to download our User Friendly Software Checklist.
- Once the user has entered their email address, we know a few things about this user. We know that they are interested in software development, and specifically, are looking for user friendly software solutions, or developers that can help them create such solutions.
- Therefore, it doesn’t make sense just to subscribe that user to the typical “blast email list” that means they get the same content as everyone else. Instead, we subscribe them to a email sequence called “User-Friendly Checklist Subscribe” in the ConvertKit software.
- A sequence in this solution can have any number of emails schedule to go out automatically, each of which provide a link to a case study, white paper, article, or something other insight that the subscriber can’t get in any other location.
- Now, sure, for certain high-profile prospects, when we see a subscription come in, we might send them an email, call them, add them on LinkedIn, etc. That’s the “omni” part of “omni-channel”. But, what we want to try to avoid here is having to make 13+ phone calls before we get a chance to really uncover an opportunity.
- So, using this series of highly-targeted content, that speak directly to them and their specific interest in user friendly software, we reach out and touch this prospect X number of times over the next say, 3-6 months, depending on how aggressive we want to be.
This is a pretty simply example, using an out of box tool that we happen to like. However, there are many different angles you could potentially take to try to break through the noise and get noticed.
For instance, what if you had a sequence for all new prospects that came into your website such as:
- Put them on your 10-part email sequence about “Topic X”
- Automatically send them a welcome gift for $5 using the APIs available at Alyce (a SAAS-based business gifting platform)
- Later, send them a T-shirt, automatically from StartupThreads (granted, you’d have to get their mailing address)
- One week later, automatically call them and play them a cute thank you message over the phone through Twilio (an automated text message and calling platform).
That entire 4-step process above could be completely automated using software code and by connecting open APIs together, and require zero minutes of effort from a sales person. And while it’s true that it wouldn’t work for all customers or products, hopefully you can see that a multi-touch, zero-labor follow-up and nurturing system could have a lot of value. Approaches such as these allow you to cut through the noise, do things differently, and have greater visibility to prospects.
And ultimately, in the noisy markets that we all find ourselves in these days, that can make all the difference.
But What if I Need Something More Specific?
As you can see from the above, most sales people eventually realize, finding a “one size fits all” solution is problematic.
Perhaps in your unique scenario a CRM like Salesforce doesn’t quite have the flexibility you need for your specific industry. Maybe your requirements are smaller and you find yourself only using a fraction of the platform.
Or maybe you’d like to link together multiple APIs as I mentioned.
In situations like this, the smartest solution is often a custom-tailored one. Consider having your own follow-up workflow or CRM platform developed, or hiring a technology expert to modify and extend an off-the-shelf solution. It’s often not as complex as you may think, and the resulting product will be exactly what you need, not what CRM a software developer thinks you need.
And after all, if you and all of your competitors all used the same CRM (ahem…Salesforce), and the same techniques, what really sets you apart in the market? Price? Is that what anyone really wants to compete on???
However you go about it, remember that consistency is the most important component to successful follow ups. Check in with your leads and customers regularly and they’ll appreciate you for it, even if you’re using software and automation to accomplish this goal.
Would you like to learn more about how to manage, automate, and grow your business with enhanced follow up strategies? We’d love to learn more about how we can help you solve your problems. Please feel free to contact an expert at Unstoppable Software today.