Sales Follow Up Etiquette – How to do it without feeling pushy!

11th September 2013 | By Frances Pratt

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Following up is probably the sales activity that most people (sales people and non-sales people) struggle with … and don’t do.  It goes in the too hard basket and the result is you leave clients not helped and money on the table!

This post covers sales tips on why and how you should follow up.

Why people don’t follow up:

The top reasons people don’t follow up on their sales calls are:

  1. They don’t organise it and get permission from the client.
  2. They feel like they are intruding and the person doesn’t really want them to call.


Why follow up:

Ok … truth time.  In sales it is your job to call the client.  Imagine that your client doesn’t have a phone they can call out from … they can only receive calls!   

Selling is about listening and helping.  If you have listened and explained to them how you can help them with a problem that they want to solve … then they want you to call.

The reason they don’t call you is that, just like you, your potential client gets busy. They put you on the to do pile … and they don’t get around to it.  Even if they know it’s a priority for their business, there is a reason they have been avoiding doing something about it.  You need to help them help themselves.

When you call them and get them ‘back on track’ with something that’s important to them.  They will not think you are pushy or annoying … they will appreciate your dedication to their problem.

How to follow up:

In the meeting:

If you are in a meeting (or phone call) -- > Make sure that you always have the time and date for the next step organised at the end of the meeting or call.

Here is an example on how to do this:

“Ms Client, thanks so much for your time today… We have talked about (summarise their main problem and how you can help).  You have asked me to (summarise action points).  I should be able to get this done by ________.   I would like to set up another time to come and see you  (or call) to see if you have any questions and discuss next steps”

When you are organising the time with the client make sure you:

  • Get their permission“Would it be ok if I called you on Tuesday morning?”
  • Set the time and date (if possible)
  • Note it down and put it in your diary
  • Send a thank you email summarising what you have learned, how you can help and next steps including the date and time of the follow up that you have organised.
  • If you have organised a new meeting time … send a calendar invite so you know it is in their diary.  They’ll appreciate it because you are saving them time!


What if they say they will call you?

Don’t panic!  It’s always best for you to have a next step, even if they say this.

Often they say this because they have to discuss things with someone else, or just want some breathing space.  Here’s an example of what I say:

“No problem, when do you think you will do that?  Would it be ok, if I haven’t heard from you by the following week, that I give you a call?”

99% of the time people will say yes!

Why this works for you:

If you have permission to call --- then you will!  It's that simple.

Why this works for them:

They have told you that they want you to call and they are expecting to hear from you.

You are giving them an opportunity to let you know other things that are going on (such as they are on holidays) – so you aren’t wasting your time calling then they aren’t in the office.

Next week I will go through ideas on following up … and what to do if you get through to voicemail and other hurdles.

This post was prompted by a question from Vicci who listened to my Sales Webinar with HerBusiness for the Victorian Small Business Festival.

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