4. The Follow-Up

Set the Table for Success

Now that you have found that special person, and you feel confident that they are into you as well, it’s time to start building that long-term happy customer relationship.  As anyone one who has ever been in a relationship knows, the devil is in the details.  During this stage you need to determine some of the logistics that will make this business relationship work. Getting the first sale right will set the terms for a long-lasting and loyal customer friendship. Show that you are a caring and attentive business who will be fun to buy from and will be good at fulfilling your promises.

What Is This?

The qualifying and pitch stages of a sales process are really two sides of the same coin. In qualifying, you’re determining whether a potential customer is a fit for you. During the pitch, they’re deciding whether you’re right for them (and you’re trying to convince them that you are). Once you’ve both happily decided it’s a good match, you move into the details stage, when all of the final decisions are made: what’s being purchased, how much is paid, how the money is transferred, how the product is delivered, and the timing of it all. This stage can be very short and simple, or a long, multi-step process.

Why Should You Do It?

This details stage of the process is an often overlooked stage, especially for businesses who do not have a lot of resources to devote to the sales efforts. The tendency is to assume once a person has made the decision that they want your product, to just let them figure out for themselves how to make the purchase. But there are many obstacles along the way that can drive an eager customer away from the final purchase. If you are continually assessing what these obstacles are, and working to remove them, you will have much more success turning those interested potential customers into happy paying customers.

How Do You Do It?

The follow-up stage can sometimes be the longest of the sales process, with many opportunities to interact with your lead. But sometimes it’s really short, as in “just sell it to me already” short.

For an Etsy business, for example, this can be as simple as getting them from a product description to the “Pay with Paypal” button in two clicks.  If a customer had to go through too many stages creating an account, authorizing social networks, entering payment info (and re-entering it again if they forgot the expiration date), choosing a shipping option and then reviewing and confirming the entire process, they might decide that decoupage lampshade just isn’t worth it. For a car dealership on the other hand, this stage could and should involve many steps, including determining trade-in value, establishing a down payment amount and loan terms, negotiating the final price and service package, selecting accessories and add-ons, putting together all of the paperwork, installing temporary tags, and handing over the keys.

Steps that could be involved in this stage:

  • Collecting contact information from the customer.
  • Determining shipping options and any special delivery information.
  • Setting price and collecting payment information.
  • Charting the schedule of any services being rendered.
  • Bundling any add-on products or services.
  • Including educational materials or resources.
  • An enthusiastic welcome.


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Using Your CRM

This is where a CRM can help your sales efforts shine. You can use it to evaluate the success of each stage of your process, while making sure that no one who has expressed an interest in your product gets lost in the sales shuffle.

You should use your CRM to measure:

Conversion rate of each stage in your process. How many of the leads who submit a webform will take your phone call? How many will schedule time to hear more about your services? How many request a formal quote? How many sign the final contract?

By continually measuring the success of each stage in this process, you can experiment with different approaches to find what works best for you. Does sample pricing improve your sales team’s ability to set up meetings or damage it? Does a free how-to webinar increase the number of purchases or not?

Quality of leads from different marketing channels. Are the people who signed your in-store guestbook more likely to make repeat purchases than the ones who signed up for your newsletter? Are the people who consistently read your blog more likely to purchase than those who friend you on Facebook? Are the ones who do all of the above spending more money per month than the ones who walk in off the street?

Understanding where your avid fans are finding you and how they are best engaging with you will help you determine where to focus your sales team’s efforts.


Segments Are Your Friend …

When it comes to ensuring that sales opportunities don’t get misplaced, organizing all of your leads into manageable groups can be really helpful. If you’ve defined a sales process with concrete steps that leads move through, you already have the rough frame you need to organize your leads into segments.

Let’s say you have 36 people in the “pitch” stage and seven in the “follow-up” stage. Being able to see just the people in one of these stages will help your sales team focus.

It’s possible to further organize leads, using things like territories, categories, and which sales rep is responsible for the sale.

But what does all of this organization get you, really? Why is it better to segment these leads, rather than just having every open opportunity in one big spreadsheet?

… Because They Help You Communicate

Yeah, it’s nice to be able to see how many hot leads you have in your Northwest territory that are in Stage 3 of your sales process. But the real fun is when you use that knowledge to take action. You can get much more personal in your communications when you have narrower segments of leads to talk to. This frees you up to be much more relevant, even if you are sending a group of emails or choosing from a selection of sales brochures.


Good Communications:

  • In the early stages, send relevant emails with special offers and educational content. An email service provider can make this super-simple. With segments, you can personalize these messages so they have greater impact (i.e. not everyone is shopping for bananas; some may prefer a grapefruit).
  • For the middle stages, reps can look at segments of leads and send out quick personal email messages, decide which presentation to give, and to do things like schedule meetings or polish proposals.
  • For later stages, reps can see who needs a phone call or visit. They can set their priorities based on things like expected sale close date and amount.


What Not To Do

Working through the details of your transaction is important step in setting the tone of this new relationship you have with this customer.

  • Don’t overly automate – Marketing automation can be very helpful in walking interested buyers through different stages of their evaluation of your product.  But if you are too aggressive with the automatically generated e-mails or text messages, you can turn people off.
  • Don’t forget to show your gratitude – You can never say thank you enough to someone who is investing their money in your business.  Say it early and often.