Sales Best Practice on When to Follow Up

Sales Best Practices 1.0

My former boss, John, is pretty old school.  He’d learned sales best practices on the ropes and through relentless reading of books on sales best practices such as Zig Ziglar’s Secrets of Closing the Sale, The Sales Acceleration and How to Master the Art of Selling by Tom Hopkins.  He even attended seminars with fancy names like “Act Like a Top Sales Performer”, “The Best of Sales”, and “Creating the Best Sales Team”.

He worked hard and put into practice everything he learned to become the top sales rep.  After all, sales best practices back in those days were all about mining data using CRM systems and doing endless pipeline analysis.  And we certainly did that and drove the sales team hard.

I met up recently with John for lunch and was not surprised that his former glory days of mastering sales best practices has faded.  He was stuck implementing Sales Best Practices of 2007.  Just a bit behind the times wouldn’t you say since we are in 2018 now.

Data Key to Sales Best Practices

To encourage John, I shared that data needs to be a key pillar of his sales best practices.  But it needs to be the right data.  As any top performer knows, selling starts with a prospect.  Lots of them.  We sales people basically throw a line out there to every prospect and see which ones bite.  But who has time to do all that follow-up?  Not me!  (And if I cannot do it, how can we expect our sales team to?)

Look for Signals from the Customer

Sales people are constantly trying to figure out which prospects to go after, when to chase them, and how.  I mean, do we wait and call three days after the first outreach to let prospects digest what we’d sent?   Should we be aggressive and follow up with a phone call right away?  Hmm…these sales practices are really beginning to sound a lot like a dating game.

The answer: it all depends on the indicators we receive.  Logic tells us that we only go after prospects that give us the best chance of closing.  And in order to do that, we have to be able to read the signals correctly.

Signals from Email Tracking

What kinds of signals you wonder?  Well, how about knowing when a prospect opened your email?  Or when they read your email?

At this, John piped up.  He had embraced the email tracking bandwagon as one of his sales best practices strategy and received all sorts of reports telling him who had opened what emails when.  But yet, he’s still not able to drive sales.  He wonders why.  What?!  Did he not read my brilliant post about the fallacies of email tracking data?  Sigh.

Better Signals with File Tracking

I immediately pulled up my article and made him read it.  I suggested that file tracking needs to be part of his sales best practices.  Then, I clicked on a recent PointFast Alert—highlighting that now I know who, what, when, where, how and how long the prospect has engaged with the files I sent him.  This is info that the sales team can actually act on.  I shared with him that this one time in band camp… oops… sorry, wrong blog for this example 😊.  Hee hee…don’t use this one as a sales best practice!

Sales Best Practices 2.0

Ok, back to file tracking… so I shared that one time we delayed following up with a prospect because PointFast alerted us that he had engaged with our files on his mobile while he was on a business trip in New York.  We figured he may not have had the time to fully digest our value proposition while traveling.  Another time, PointFast alerted us that a prospect had spent 8 minutes on our Pitch Deck, of which 3 minutes 12 seconds are on the Technology Architecture slides.  This insight drove our decision to follow up with a technology whitepaper and include a sales engineer in our next conversation.

Basically, PointFast helped us unlock the right data so we can hone in on prospects with the highest chance of success and determine appropriate next steps.  Since then, PointFast has been an integral part of our sales best practices.

John was impressed which made me feel all giddy because the school girl in me still wants her teacher’s approval.   Now, if you really want to know what happened that one time in band camp, send me a note and tell me your thoughts on PointFast and maybe, I will respond with my story.  Come on, admit it, you want to know.

Also published on Medium.

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