How many times have you gone to a networking event, Meetup, or gathering of sorts and collected a pile of business cards that you never ended up doing anything with? You may have your own system that you try to remember to stick to when you have time, but we’re all CEO’s and/or sales people… and we have a long list of things that need to be done when magic windows of time open up. Making connections and following up is a key part of the sales process that seasoned sales professionals often neglect. Those that don’t do this crucial step are leaving money on the table, so to speak.
I’ve been in sales for about 13 years, and very few things have changed. The fact that your connections matter, and the more that you have of them – the better, have not. Unfortunately the tunnel vision of getting to the next sale and hitting your quota so that you can eat, often get in the way of sales folks consistently adhering to the tried and true best practices of the trade. Which means follow up and nurturing of business connections can go by the wayside.
Did you know that 80% of sales require 5 follow-ups.
And that’s crazy, right?
Because good business connections = referrals, which are people who are looking for what you provide and are in the market for it at the moment. How fortuitous!
Yet… once we make a sale or a few, we’re hunting for fresh meat when we have a pile of relationships sitting on our nightstands, underneath coffee cups, hidden between cracks and crevices. And good luck finding that business card when we remember that we met a guy at an event that does that thing that we need. Some of us have created mini leaning towers of business cards that fall over if the office door slams a little too hard. Well, from this day forward let’s commit to creating follow-up procedures, because what I’m about to show you will change the game when it comes to dealing with the struggles that sales people often go through when it comes to keeping their administrative houses in order. I’ve stumbled upon a tool that makes follow-up less overwhelming and circumvents manual entry and all of the other things that sales people hate about their jobs; however, are also necessary evils. Oh yes, and we can ditch having piles of business cards that eventually take up precious real-estate in our work and live spaces.
Sales Follow-up Option #1: Send out a Mass Email
So, here’s what I do. Prior to a trade show or major networking event, I draft my follow-up messaging. What I used to do was have my assistant put all of my contact from the event into a spreadsheet, and then I would send out a super generic email to everyone to follow-up and hope that folks would respond and setup a meeting with me. Lazy, right? Impersonal. And was I shocked that I got very little, if any response? Nope. However, if you aren’t currently using a CRM, this level of follow-up is the least that you can do. Because having everything in a system that you can market and send super valuable content to later is a step that most sales people don’t do. I’d say about 10% of the people that received my message post-event responded, and I’d at least get one opportunity and sometimes a new client with my shoddy, half-baked attempt at continuing the conversation and keeping those relationships going after our initial encounter.
Sales Follow-up Option #2: Schedule Your Follow-up Sequence
So option one isn’t the worst, but it’s definitely not the most effective. I still encourage my clients to draft follow-up messaging before an event, or even a generic everyday follow-up script (telephone or email). This way, you can get right to it and not have to waste brain space trying to figure out how to approach the conversation. Also, with scripts you can manage consistency with your sales teams to ensure that they are all communicating properly and following the best practices that your company has set forth as standard in order to create the best results. This is often hard to manage, but at least this is a standard that you can hold your sales people to. In your follow-up sequence you want to draft your initial email, your email that you send out after a certain number of days if you don’t get a response, and another email that you use to close this round of follow-up.
In the initial message, you can keep it brief and to the point; although, I would make sure that you personalize the message with the recipient’s first name and maybe add a quick reference to a conversation that you have just so that they know that they aren’t receiving a templated response (because it’s 2017). Like… go Yankees! Or something similar like that. Don’t overthink it.
The second message in the sequence can just be a quick check-in if you didn’t get a response to your initial message. Determine how many days out you want to send this message (3-7 business days is a good option generally). Share something of value so that the message isn’t so self centered. Include a link to a piece of (preferably branded) content that is relevant to the conference or event, or helps solve the companies problem. Or even better, if you have a legit referral, that may help you get a more immediate response as well.
Message number three can be a nice message that ends the follow-up sequence that tells them that you are here when they are more available for a conversation.
You can typically set these templates up in your CRM or you can email them using a drip sequence with a your email service provider. The only problem with this is that you may not be able to add personalization to these messages. Another cumbersome option is to manually send these messages out by hand, and calendar the dates for which you need to complete the different steps of the follow-up sequence.
Sales Follow-up Option #3: Sales Automation
So… the star of the show is automating this entire process. I stumbled upon the most amazing CRM a little over a year ago, and I’ve implemented it in a half dozen sales teams varying from 1 person to 10+, and with 100% success. Sales people love it, and CEOs and management are able to actually manage their sales process, have accurate forecasting and reporting, and did I mention that sales people ACTUALLY use it? I’m not going to get into all of the cool features that it has. But I will show you how I use it to manage my sales follow-up.
Introducing: Hubspot CRM
So let me illustrate how this works in steps…
- I prepare my templates for follow-up, whether it is a general follow-up sequence or a post-event sequence of sorts.
- I enter them into my Hubspot Sequence Library
- Once I get a new contact or a business card, I enter them into the system. Recently, Hubspot released this handy new feature where you can take a picture of a business card and it enters the information in so that you don’t have to type it all. You may have to make some edits, because of course it isn’t perfect, but it makes for speedy input of data.
- Once the information is in, I enter the contact into the sequence, and customize the messaging for the contact. I can do this simply and easily from my email by just pulling in the template. It helps to have the template as customized to the conference or event, or even to your general company voice so that you don’t have to make many edits, and you can just drop each contact into the sequence, and voila! You’re done!The sequence keeps going until the last email is sent, or the recipient responds. Cool, eh? I mean, all sorts of CRMs have fancy tricks, but this one is the easiest to setup and deploy that I’ve found. There is all sorts of advanced stuff that you can do with the Hubspot CRM, oh, and did I mention that it’s FREE?
The Hubspot CRM is FREE with one small caveat. There are some PRO features, and sequences is one of them. The fee is $50/user; however, if you are interested in a FREE demo and would like this feature for you or your team, we can get you a pretty sweet discount as we are an agency partner at Hubspot.
If you’re interested, please let us know.
In the meantime, use these tips to and start making your follow-ups a priority.