Do you have a sales follow-up system in place? What do your sales reps do when they receive demo or sales call requests?

In most businesses, a designated salesperson reaches out to set up a time (if the requestor hasn’t already chosen one) then calls the lead on the scheduled date. If they’re like 44 percent of salespeople, once they fulfill their initial request, the interaction with that person ends.

The problem with that is, in most cases, your leads won’t be ready to buy your product right away. In fact, 80 percent of sales require a follow-up system of five touchpoints, but only eight percent of reps actually make it that far. By failing to use a follow-up system, the majority of businesses are kissing a painful amount of potential sales and revenue goodbye.

That begs the question: If a follow-up system is so crucial to making sales, why are only eight percent of reps doing it effectively? For most, the roadblock is time. When done manually, sending leads personalized offers is both time-consuming and difficult to keep track of. This leaves sales reps with a mess of cold leads and dropped balls to sort through and not enough hours in the day to finish.

Sales automation takes that hassle away. Instead of spending countless hours sending the same messages to different leads, sales automation allows you to create post-sales call offer funnels in advance and let them run on their own 24/7. To take it even further, because automated sales follow-up system is set up in advance, you can weave in a variety of communication channels to reach your prospects in the right place at the right time.

Here are three simple and effective sales follow-up systems by channel you can use:

1. Follow-up system: Email

Sales emails have come a long way since their first appearance in consumers’ inboxes in 1978. In 40 years, email has transformed from a channel for bulk-distributing unsolicited offers to a means for brands to deliver their most hyper-targeted, thoughtful sales offers.
If you want to acquire more customers and nurture them into larger sales at scale, email is the way to go. According to a survey by Direct Marketing Association and Demand Metric, “Email had a median ROI of 122% — more than four times higher than other marketing formats examined, including social media, direct mail, and paid search.”

Email is also advantageous because it’s highly scalable — your sales reps can automatically follow-up with every lead they talk to. You can create a follow-up system with emails that can be tailored and personalized using the data you have about each lead in your CRM and sales force automation platform, and you can set up your platform to automatically deliver those emails to leads at just the right moment, right after they’ve performed an action or after a specified duration of time.

Example: the post-sales call follow-up message

After your sales team calls each prospect, interested in purchasing or not, you should always follow up afterward. You can do this with a summary of what you discussed and any useful resources that will support your company’s authority and expertise on the topic.  Here’s an example of a follow-up system message you might send:

Example: following up with leads stuck in your sales pipeline

Simply sending one follow-up email after your sales call or consultation is typically not enough to nudge a sale. Remember, most of your qualified leads won’t be ready to buy your product right away. Planning a regular cadence of follow-up after-sales calls is crucial.

Your goal should be to remind them frequently of what you have to offer. When they are eventually ready, your business will be fresh in their memory. Here’s an example of how you can follow up with a lead who has been in the pipeline a while without taking action:


2. Follow-up system: Postcards

Email can be the most common and recommended way to follow up after a sales call. However, you can also follow up with a thank you note or by sending a postcard. Or you can plan to use a postcard later in your follow-up system process.

In a crowded digital marketplace, a personal touch here and there is a great way to stand out. With 54 percent of customers surveyed by AdWeek reporting that “they want to receive mail from brands they’re interested in,” sending a postcard by mail might be exactly how you can ensure your business stands out.

Postcards are great for a follow-up system because:

  • They’re inexpensive.
  • They have eye-catching qualities.
  • They are often read.
  • Results are easily measurable.
  • Customers find them trustworthy.
  • You can automate and personalize them.
  • They are a physical form of communication that adds a real personal touch (which can help your business stand out).

You can also use postcards for continued nurturing before and after the contact becomes a customer. Here are some examples:

  • Birthday offers
  • Anniversary (with your business) reminders
  • Holiday promotions
  • Contract expiration reminders
  • Cross-sell and upsell offers
  • Update contact info requests
  • Event invitations
  • Appointment reminders
  • Thank you cards
  • Proposal follow-up
  • Demo follow-up
  • New product announcements
  • Recurring service reminder

Don’t be intimidated by the perceived difficulty of sending clients and leads postcards. They’re easy to implement into your automated follow-up system. All you need to do to get started is set a task outcome in your sales force automation platform. The task will subscribe contacts to a thank you note fulfillment list. You can customize your postcards to include your contact’s name and any other information you’d like.

3. Follow-up system: SMS messages (text messages)

Although we don’t recommend replacing more traditional communication channels such as emails and phone calls altogether, your sales team can add SMS to your follow-up funnels post-sales call for a convenient, on-the-go and quick way of communicating between other forms of communication.

With nearly 80 percent of the world’s population having access to mobile phones and SMS, it should be no surprise that 78 percent of US consumers state that text messaging is the most efficient way to reach them for purchases and updates.

Here are just a few reasons to add this underused communication channel to your marketing follow-up system strategy:

When many people think of SMS messaging for sales, they think of the spam-mail from random 777 numbers that they didn’t opt-in for, but there’s a lot that this communication channel can do without annoying customers or leads.

Here are just a few of the potential uses for SMS messages:

  • Webinar or appointment reminder messages
  • Scheduling or changing appointments
  • Purchase confirmations or receipts
  • Coupon offers
  • Polls and contests

With an understanding of the channels to follow up, you can consider which is best for your audience. Then map out your immediate and long-term sales follow-up.

About Lindsay Kent
Lindsay is a graduate of California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, and holds a degree in Journalism with a concentration in Public Relations and minors in Spanish and Integrated Marketing Communications. After working with several small businesses, Lindsay moved to sunny Santa Barbara to become Ontraport’s Content Manager.