The Art of the Follow-Up: How to Turn a Lead into a Sale

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So, you’ve just been to a conference or a networking group, and you’ve come home with a pocketful of business cards from potential customers. You’ve even dutifully input their data into a spreadsheet. But how do you turn all those new leads into actual sales?

Here are some tips for following up successfully:

Don’t wait too long. As often as possible, tell your new acquaintances when you plan to follow up. Immediately after meeting them, say something like, “It was great meeting you. I’ll give you a call to discuss this next Monday.” It’s OK if you forget to do it, but be sure to make contact while you’re still fresh in your prospect’s mind. Try to touch base within a week.

Consider whether phone or email best fits the situation. Many people would rather receive emails than unscheduled phone calls, because they can deal with the correspondence at their convenience. When you’re trying to sell a product via email, include attachments and links to additional information about your product. Of course, some people may ignore or delete emails but may actually pick up the phone. If you don’t mind taking things slowly, start by sending an email and follow up with a phone call if you don’t get a reply. If you want to be bold, go straight for the call. When calling, remember to be conscientious of the other person’s time: Ask whether it’s a good time for a conversation before you get into your pitch.

Follow up again. Don’t give up if your prospect doesn’t respond positively to your first offer. Many individuals or companies take weeks or months to research vendors before making a commitment, particularly if you’re selling a pricier product or service. Marketers often discuss the “rule of seven,” suggesting that it takes seven interactions with your brand for a customer to make a purchase. Keep in touch with your prospects through a combination of emails, phone calls, newsletter blasts, and other marketing methods. Stay at the top of their minds until they’re prepared to make a purchase. No matter how many follow-ups it takes, stay friendly and professional — no one likes a pushy salesperson.

What tactics have you used to turn leads into sales? Share your experiences in the Comments field below.

Kathryn Hawkins is a writer and editorial consultant who has worked with publications including Inc. and GOOD Magazine. She is principal and content strategy lead at the Maine custom content and web development agency Hawkins Multimedia. View all posts by Kathryn Hawkins This entry was posted in Marketing and tagged follow-up, lead generation, sales, sales pitch. Bookmark the permalink.
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