6 Effective ways to follow-up with leads and increase conversions
Lead generation is a crucial aspect of any sales and marketing strategy. By collecting new leads, you can educate and nurture prospects who are already interested in your company and its offerings.
Over time, you can inform them about your brand and personalize your communication to increase their interest and convert them into paying customers.
But for many companies, this is easier said than done. The journey from lead generation to sales is not always straightforward, nor does it guarantee success. One critical reason is that they stop after the first contact with a lead and fail to follow up until they close the sale.
The truth, however, is that a successful sale often requires several follow-ups with leads. The more leads you follow up with, the greater your chances of converting them into customers.
This article explores some of the best ways to follow up with leads and increase your chances of successfully converting them into customers.
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What is lead generation?
Lead generation is the process of generating interest in your business and capturing new leads.
This typically involves collecting a person’s contact information via a form on a lead capture page online. This page captures leads in exchange for an enticing offer, such as a:
- Offer for free shipping
- Free download of a resource, e.g., a white paper, a brochure, an eBook, etc.
- Email newsletter subscription
- Case studies
- Contest or sweepstakes entry,
Lead generation is crucial because it allows you to focus your energy on those already interested in your offering instead of wasting time and money on disinterested consumers with cold calls or other outreach methods.
How many sales happen after the first contact?
Lead generation is essential to keep your sales funnel moving, while sales follow-ups are equally necessary to convert these leads into sales. And not just one, but two, three, or more follow-ups are required to get a prospect to finally become a customer.
According to recent research, only 2% of sales happen during the first point of contact with a new lead.
That’s just one out of every 50 deals struck after initial contact. It’s important to note that these are usually buyers who already know what they’re looking for and have pretty much decided to say yes right from the outset.
But such buyers are extremely rare.
98% of prospects only buy after a certain level of trust has been built up with the brand. Put another way; businesses stand to lose a massive 98% of potential sales because they don’t establish trust with those potential customers. That’s why it’s critical to follow up with them.
How many follow-ups are required to convert a lead into a customer?
The news gets better as you follow up more than three times. So, if you keep going until at least the fifth contact, you can potentially convert 80% of prospects into customers. This section explains how you can use the 5-contact strategy to your advantage.
And yet, only 8% of companies actually follow-up five or more times with leads, while about 44% give up after one attempt. There are many reasons for this.
Why salespeople don’t follow-up
Fear of rejection and a lack of patience are two of the most common reasons sales reps don’t follow up with leads. Many are also unwilling to persist with a lead because they mistake initial reluctance for complete disinterest. A lack of persistence may also result from a lack of understanding the lead’s needs, pain points or how their product can meet those needs and address those pain points.
Another reason is that it’s more systematic. The company’s sales process itself may be complicated if:
- It involves a lot of red tape
- It requires too many permissions or sign-offs
- It doesn’t provide the tools (e.g., CRM software) that salespeople need to support and streamline their lead generation and lead follow-up efforts.
A poor sales onboarding program can also result in poor or inadequate follow-ups.
On the other hand, a good onboarding and mentorship program for sales staff can increase their productivity and improve their competence at following up with leads.
Regardless of the underlying reason, a lack of willingness to follow up usually results in a loss of sales and revenues.
Here’s why following up with leads should be part of your lead generation and nurturing strategy.
Why are follow-ups so important after lead generation?
Customers have changed
In the pre-Internet days, consumers and customers had limited choices, but this is no longer the case. Today’s hyper-connected, digitally savvy consumers have a wide range of options at their fingertips, not only with products but also with brands.
They can also choose their preferred shopping medium, which is why online shopping is increasing in popularity.
In fact, in 2020 alone, eCommerce in the U.S. grew by 32.4% and represented 19.6% of total retail sales.
The momentum has continued into 2021, and eCommerce is expected to equal 15.3% of total retail sales, with U.S. consumers spending $933.3 billion on online shopping.
While more choice is great news for shoppers, it creates new challenges for businesses. Today’s consumers are not particularly patient or forgiving, nor do they blindly trust brands. Instead, they demand more from the brands they support.
To earn their trust and meet their needs, you must convince them that your product is the best. Moreover, if you can’t convince them after the first contact, you must keep at it to change their minds.
That’s why follow-ups are crucial.
Businesses must get ahead of the competition
Your business is competing with many others for consumers’ attention and eventually convert them into a sale. So, if you can’t retain a prospect’s attention, someone else will.
To ensure that sales leads don’t dump you for your competitors, you must follow up with them patiently and persistently. You must also respond to them before the competition can. By doing this, you can get 30-50% of them to buy from you instead of your competition.
Following up boosts conversions
Another reason for following up is to bring the unprepared and the naysayers over to your side. At any given time, the proportion of leads who will be actively buying – whether from you or a competitor – will probably be in single digits.
The rest will either not be ready (for the reasons why see the next section) or will be open to listening to your sales pitch. By following up, you can:
- Increase the number of active buyers
- Convert the active listeners into customers
- Convince those who are not ready to at least listen to your offering
Moreover, if you can follow up within five minutes of first contact, you’ll increase your conversion chances by 9X or more.
Following up increases top-of-mind brand awareness
Lead follow-ups are not just about immediate sales. While they can boost your short-term sales numbers, they can also help increase your brand’s awareness in the medium and long term.
Even if most of your leads don’t buy from you today, tomorrow, or in the next three months, by following up with them, you can increase the chances that they will eventually buy from you.
But this will only happen if they remember and recognize your brand. Follow-ups are crucial to build brand awareness and recognition because they keep you top-of-mind with consumers.
Following up builds trust
Many leads express interest in a product or service by providing their contact details and opt-in to communication. But many times, they never hear back from the company again.
A lack of follow-up can have severe implications for sales, revenue, and profit for the company.
Moreover, if you don’t follow up, you cannot build trust or establish relationships with your audience. Most buyers need to trust a brand (see below) to ensure that they’re making the right decision. Only then will they commit to a purchase.
Why people say “no” (or don’t say “yes”)
As mentioned earlier, many people say yes to a deal once enough trust has been built. But this usually takes time and a fair number of follow-ups to convert a no to a yes.
With that being said, a lack of trust is not the only reason people hesitate to buy. Another reason is that they may not know enough about your product to make a final purchase decision.
This may be because you have not done enough marketing to establish your brand, or the lead has not done enough research to understand if your product can meet their needs.
Another common reason is that your offering doesn’t fit their budget – or maybe they think it doesn’t.
Further, another reason is that they may already be loyal to another brand and are resistant to switching. In this case, converting them won’t be easy, but it’s not impossible. It will simply require additional effort to follow up and win them over.
Here are some other common reasons that people may not buy from you – even though they may benefit from your expertise, product, or service:
- They don’t have time to listen to your pitch
- They’re too busy with other matters
- Inertia, apathy, or disinterest
- They don’t have the funds
Whether you’re a B2C or B2B brand, you should be prepared for these realities. More importantly, you should be ready to deal with these realities by using a robust follow-up process. This next section explains how you can overcome these challenges to effectively follow up with leads.
Six lead follow-up strategies to increase conversions and boost sales
Adopt a “5-No” Follow-up Strategy
We’ve explained the importance of five follow-ups. While you can certainly increase this number, not all companies will have the resources to follow up more than five times. The important thing is to make the five touch points work in your favor.
After the first contact, follow-up with each lead until they say “no” or “later” at least five times.
Separate the two types of leads into different lists. For example, you can move the ‘nos’ to a dormant or do not contact list and move the ‘laters’ into a follow-up X more times list. A CRM tool is an excellent way to keep track of and maintain both lists.
Focus on adding value (and communicating it)
Most leads and customers don’t care about your products or services in isolation. Instead, what they care about is what your products or services can do for them:
- Make their life better?
- Eliminate a pain point?
- Can it solve some problems?
- Provide greater value than a competitor’s product?
With each contact, you have an opportunity to communicate this value and ultimately build the relationship that can lead to a sale.
Establish rapport and build authentic relationships
To seal the deal with a hot lead, it’s crucial to build rapport. Have honest conversations and try to understand their needs and how you can help them meet those needs.
What’s equally important is making an effort to understand the root cause of their reluctance and how you can rework your product or offer to convert them into an enthusiastic manner.
By aligning your offering with their needs and challenges, you can show them that you’re willing to build a lasting relationship with them that endures beyond one or two transactions.
Respect their time
While multiple follow-ups are crucial, it’s also important not to pester prospective clients when you follow up with them. Simply put, don’t annoy them with too-frequent communications or in-your-face messaging. At the same time, don’t allow them to forget you with too-sparse communications.
Space out your follow-ups by finding the balance between too-frequent and too-sparse. Create a follow-up schedule for each lead so you don’t lose track. Also, maintain a record of all customer outreach, sales emails, referrals, etc., in your CRM or other lead management program.
Also, demonstrate your engagement by asking them for a convenient time to call. Then send out an email calendar invite to block time on their schedule, and ensure that they’re ready and open to listen to your sales pitch.
Revisit your sales pitch
It’s rarely a good idea to follow up with a lead with the same sales pitch every single time. If they didn’t say yes the first three times, the chances of saying so the fourth are low-to-nil.
The only exceptions are if you somehow manage to wear them down, or if their needs have changed and they see your product as the only viable solution.
In general, you should tweak your sales pitch with every follow-up. Include a new offer, a limited-time discount, a trial offer, free samples, or anything else that can entice a reluctant, qualified lead towards a sale.
Also, make sure to send relevant, personalized and valuable content.
Leverage automation technologies
One report found that 80% of marketers who use automation software can generate up to 451% more leads compared to marketers who don’t. Another 77% of them can also convert more leads with automation software.
There are many choices for marketing campaign automation tools to follow-up with leads. For instance, you can leverage AI-powered chatbots and CRM tools to respond to leads automatically.
These tools can reduce some of the pressure on your sales team while helping to drive more conversions faster and at a lower cost.
Some marketing automation tools also provide automated email marketing capabilities, so you can send personalized email follow-up messages to interested subscribers to maximize engagement and conversion probability.
Other tools provide multi-channel automation, so you can follow-up with leads via different channels like phone calls, social media, chat, text messages, email, etc., and ensure that every conversation is meaningful, relevant, and conversion-focused. Use multi-channel automation with lead segmentation to tweak your messaging and choose the right channel for optimum results.
Make the most of your leads with Broadly
The key to successful sales conversions is lead follow-up. This article outlines why any business must follow up with its leads. It also highlights six of the best ways to follow-up with leads that can exponentially increase the chances of conversions.
Broadly helps companies to boost lead generation and enhance their lead follow-up strategies.
Local service businesses in the automotive, home care, and pet service businesses work with us to attract the right leads, convert them into loyal customers, and build strong, lasting customer relationships.
We can help your business drive low-cost leads and grow in your industry.
See what Broadly can do for your business in just 30 days