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7 Actionable Tips for Making the Perfect Follow-Up Call

Follow-up calls are a crucial part of the sales process. They allow you to move customers down the sales funnel and establish a deeper professional relationship with the people you want to sell to.

Of course, whether you’re selling order management systems, online training programs, or something else entirely, it’s easy to mess up a follow call - or at least conduct one in a way that’s suboptimal. 

This guide will help you to structure your follow-up calls more effectively and get the sales you need for your business.


1. Get a commitment to a follow-up call

Start by establishing a specific time for a follow-up following initial contact with a customer. Try to be flexible, and be prepared to speak at an alternative time if needed. If you’ve ever wondered why would someone use voice over internet protocols, also known as cloud phone systems, sales calls are an ideal example. They allow calls to be made from any internet-enabled device, ensuring maximum flexibility for salespeople.

Another reason why many companies are opting for virtual phone number from leading VoIP providers as they’re very easy to set up and do not require any dedicated hardware. All the calls are placed over the internet connection and hence reaching international clients too is very affordable.

It’s a good idea to take your lead from your customer and also ask them to save your number. 

Once you’ve made an arrangement with them, it’s imperative you phone at the agreed time. A customer’s time is as important as anyone else’s. Wasting it is an easy way to deter a sale or any future contact between you at all. 

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2. Plan what you’re going to discuss

Once you’ve decided on a time to talk, it’s a good idea to email the customer shortly before your conversation. This helps to jog their memory and reduces the risk of missed appointments. This reminder email should briefly touch upon what you’re going to discuss. The exact format of the meeting can change depending on the desires expressed by your customer. 

Above all, make it clear this is a no-strings-attached conversation. During follow-up calls, many customers are anxious they’ll have to make a commitment before they’re ready to. While such a commitment is the end goal (and a key performance indicator for businesses) trying to push a customer into this too soon can deter a sale. Be positive but no pressure.

Another good strategy is to enclose something valuable yet tangentially related. An online article or resource is often a safe bet. This can relate to the product or service you’ve discussed or it can be more personal to the customer. Whatever form it takes, this is an excellent way to stick in the mind of someone you’d like to sell to. 

You can use the same article with different customers provided it’s relevant in each case. It may be worth finding a few examples of evergreen content with different subject focuses. This is where customer segmentation can come into play i.e. grouping customers based on common characteristics to improve communication.


3. Think about what you’re going to say

Before you go into a follow-up call, give some thought to what you’ll say. Again, this is determined by what you’ve done beforehand. 

Make sure you always mention who you are and get the name of the person you’re calling correct. This saves time and starts the conversation on the right foot. You should also quickly explain why you’re calling. 

SIP calls can work well here. What is SIP calling, you ask? It’s another way to easily contact potential customers by sending messages from one internet address to another. 

Certain customers may require multiple calls. In this case, your follow-up talks will be shaped by prior conversations. It’s a good idea to make notes during these, especially as our memory isn’t as good as we like to think it is. Making a record of important information can make follow-up calls run much more smoothly.

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Your notes can also give you clues as to what customers expect, such as potential approaches to certain problems. They can, in turn, help you create a kind of target consumer profile, which further improves your sales chances.


4. Avoid a boring opening

Even if you foster goodwill with an email, the early moments of a follow-up call can sabotage your efforts. The ways most of us open aren’t wrong exactly. We aren’t saying anything dishonest or misleading. But we are communicating in a way that isn’t notable or useful.

Ill-advised openings include asking if prior emails were received, if a customer has any questions, or if they’ve come to any decisions about previously discussed topics. These kinds of queries are boring and redundant. In some cases, they can put customers on the spot and lead to awkward dialogue.

A good alternative is to verbally set the agenda for the conversation ahead rather than asking uncomfortable questions. It’s likely you’ve already done this in a reminder email, but doing it again shows you mean business. It demonstrates you know how valuable your customer’s time is and are willing to move the call to its intended destination.

You can further improve this approach by touching upon any irritants your customer has mentioned, like a high bounce rate or exit rate on their website. You can remind a customer of the frustrations they’re experiencing and then explain you’ll be clarifying the features of what you have to sell, which - naturally - will fix the problem. 

Another strategy is framing features in terms of the benefits they offer. For instance, if you had a customer ask “what is SIP trunking?” you could discuss the benefits of this technology, such as low maintenance costs and compatibility with existing phone systems.

You can also try to establish some symmetry between your follow-up call and the reminder email preceding it. Try to commit some key phrases from your email to memory, particularly with regard to discussion topics and ultimate outcomes. This helps keep you on track and conveys that you’re serious about the topics raised previously.


5. Work to build a rapport

Adding a personal touch to sales discussions is a solid strategy. However, it’s also a tough tightrope to walk. Going too far can make you feel intrusive and lead to some discomfort during discussions. 

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The key to success in this area is to use a light touch multiple times during sales conversations. The follow-up call is an excellent opportunity to follow up on a customer’s personal developments, for example. 

It’s possible a potential customer will mention something going on in their lives during an initial sales call. If so, make a note of this, and be sure to follow up on it when you next speak. This helps you build rapport with your customer and can make securing a sale more likely. 

Another way you can build rapport is to show you really listen to customers when they voice concerns. Respond to concerns in their professional life as readily as in their personal one. Ask questions to clarify ambiguous points if you’re unsure about something.

A good rapport-building effort will have another positive impact. It’ll lead customers to anticipate later calls instead of dreading them. This is because you’ve managed to solve their problem and create a friendly atmosphere to talk within. 


6. Leave a voicemail

Leaving a voicemail can be a bone of contention among salespeople. You may wonder if doing so is appropriate or desirable. However, generally speaking, leaving a voicemail is a solid idea.

A good voicemail message is non-confrontational, encourages questions, invites future contact and (where possible) includes the personal touch we discussed earlier. It’s not just a way of maintaining contact but a way to differentiate yourself from other salespeople. Going into it with the right attitude might be all you need to distinguish yourself from someone else. 

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That said, a voicemail can be a source of frustration if you keep getting sent to it. This, in turn, can affect the tone of your dialogue with a customer going forward. Try not to let getting sent to voicemail repeatedly get to you and don’t take out your frustrations on the customer. 


7. Be persistent (but not too persistent)

Persistence is an important part of any sale, but - like personal touches - it’s a fine line to walk. If a customer isn’t responding to your calls, make sure you don’t come across as pushy in voicemails.

Gently make it clear you’re on time for an appointment and accommodate your customer. Make it clear you understand life sometimes gets in the way. Give them time to get back in touch with you and remind them of their earlier concerns again (while, if possible, hinting at your solutions).

It’s a good idea to paint a failure to connect as an unfortunate occurrence rather than a mistake on a customer’s part. But if a customer is failing to communicate with you, regardless of your persistence, don’t be afraid to let them go. 

Nobody wins every time, and you aren’t necessarily a bad salesperson because someone won’t hear what you have to say. As time goes by, you’ll hopefully be able to more readily identify tire kickers and other people unlikely to make a purchase.


Wrapping up

Making a follow-up call can be a nerve-wracking experience. However, with some preparation, it will go much more smoothly. The key is to respond to the specific concerns each customer raises and move beyond it being a mere sales call.

Try to sprinkle in personal touches and offer value beyond what you have to offer as a salesperson. Always keep your cool, and try not to let your failures reflect unfairly on your abilities. By considering all of these points, your follow-up calls will be as strong as they possibly can be. 

Adam Hempenstall's profile image
Adam Hempenstall is the CEO and Founder of Better Proposals. He started his first web design business at 14 and has since written four books and built an international movement around sending better proposals. Having helped his customers win $500,000,000 in the last 12 months alone, he’s launched the first ever Proposal University where he shares best practices on writing and designing proposals. He co-runs a once-a-year festival called UltraMeet and is a massive FC Barcelona fan.