The Effective Follow-Up Technique in a ‘Social’ World

Getting through to C-level decision-makers demands effective follow-up techniques, and today’s best performing sellers have them. Reps who follow up — and do it well — hit quota. Those who exceed it? Yup. They have a superior follow-up technique when prospecting.

Today's best performing sellers have the most effective follow-up technique. Getting through to C-level decision-makers demands an effective follow-up technique, and today’s best performing sellers have them. Reps who follow up — and do it well — hit quota. Those who exceed it? Yup. They have a superior follow-up technique when prospecting.

Ten years ago it took roughly four attempts to reach a prospective customer. Today it takes eight. We’ve read the research. The jury is out.

To hit targets you must:

  • follow up often (seven to 10 times)
  • communicate effectively to clients
  • use email, voice mail, LinkedIn … all available tools

Otherwise you’re wasting time.

What Motivates Your Follow-Up Technique?

At the core of the best follow-up technique lies a philosophy: You either serve or push. What is your motivation? Is your strategy driven by a desire to solve customers’ problems?

Or are you driven by pressure to place a solution?

Do you believe your product is desperately needed? Or are you just pulling a paycheck?

Nothing wrong with expecting a paycheck. But have you considered how needing sales negatively influences how you communicate with customers … about their problem?

If you manage a team, have you considered how reps tasked to set lots of meetings may reinforce or diminish communications skills?

What Separates Persistence From Pestering When Following Up With Prospects?

When following up with targets, what’s the difference between persistence and pestering? How often should we follow up, with which tool (email, voice mail, etc.) and what cadence? These are all common questions. But what if they don’t serve our goal?

As sales trainer Josh Braun says about cold outreach, “What you need is an approach that doesn’t feel forced, unnatural or uncomfortable. An approach that doesn’t assume what you have is what someone else wants.”

Worrying about pestering clients vanishes the moment you shift from placing solutions to solving problems. You allow yourself to empathize with prospects.

This drives how you communicate with them. From word choice to conversational cadence.

Spark Your Prospect’s Curiosity

Forget about intruding or how many times to follow up and when. Forget about BANT (Budget, Authority, Need and Timing) frameworks. Update your mindset and tactics: Provoke curiosity.

Help customers become curious. Focus on the words you’re using when following up.

Use words to help buyers develop their own, personal reason to speak with you. Even if they’re not (yet) sure it’s worthwhile. (because they aren’t … this is cold prospecting after all!)

Instead, provoke customers in a way that doesn’t make them vulnerable to a pitch.

Quick example: Sellers tend to believe offering the right data, in the right way, to the right buyer will cause customers to engage in discussion … from cold. We tend to believe we have the important data (that clients need).

“Now let me tell you about it and explain to you why you need it.” That’s our mentality.

This is why email follow-up sequences often include research: Proof customers need to consider change.

Flashing research doesn’t start discussions. Ok, it works with customers who are willing-and-able to buy now. (Ninety-five percent of your market won’t bite!)

Sharing research doesn’t engage because customers are not open to being persuaded.

Yes, cold email follow-ups can work. But only if messages include words that:

  • prove your email is not sent randomly (is researched, targeted);
  • are biased to the customers’ decision-making process, not a sales process;
  • provoke immediate reactions based on curiosity; and
  • avoid making customers vulnerable.

This is why communications arising from a “BANT mentality” are less effective. BANT’s nature is inherently biased to sales process.

Buying process drives buying! Shift the focus from qualification to provocation.

Customers run from words that scream, “I’m out to qualify you!” Or “I’m out to influence your thinking with this research (so you’ll engage in a buying discussion).”

Clients have become conditioned to recognize these failing techniques.

Persuasion and Vulnerability

Trying to establish credibility can sabotage. Persuasion is the devil. The moment your messaging sounds persuasive customers flee. Especially if you sell complex solutions.

Are your cold emailing and follow-up techniques making customers feel vulnerable?

Consider two universal truths offered by Tom Snyder of Funnel Clarity:

  • Prospects value more what they ask for than what’s freely offered.
  • Customers value more what they conclude for themselves than what they’re told.

Your follow-up must honor these truths. It’s become fundamental human behavior… to tune-out information being pushed at us. No matter how useful it is!

As sellers we must help customers persuade themselves to become curious in speaking with us.

Not based on our ability to sell; instead, on our ability to solve problems.

Helping buyers understand if (and when) they want to buy on their own terms — is non-negotiable.

As a starting point ask yourself: How will my follow-up email sequence help buyers feel an urge to ask for a discussion? What will provoke curiosity?

Also, please consider: Where do your communications come from? How do you choose words in voice mails and emails?

Do they come from a need to serve? Or are they biased to placing a solution?

Good luck!


Author: Jeff Molander

Jeff Molander is the authority on making social media sell. He co-founded what became the Google Affiliate Network and Performics Inc., where he built the sales team. Today, he is the authority on effective prospecting communications techniques as founder of Communications Edge Inc. (formerly Molander & Associates Inc.) He's been in sales for over 2 decades. He is author of the first social selling book, Off the Hook Marketing: How to Make Social Media Sell for You.Jeff is a sales communications coach and creator of the Spark Selling technique—a means to spark more conversations with customers "from cold," speeding them toward qualification.

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