5 examples of bad follow up in business, and how to avoid them

Examples of bad follow up (1)

A sales team can often set the tone for a customer relationship. 

Whether it’s through one-to-one interactions, chats on social media, or welcome emails, a customer relationship is often defined by the experience they’ve witnessed with your business.

A big part of that is follow ups. They can make or break the relationship. Good follow up helps nurture a lead to the sale and beyond. Conversely, bad follow up can deter a lead away from your business.

In this blog post, we take a look at 5 examples of bad follow up in business, and how you can avoid them. They are:

  1. Not following up fast enough
  2. Not following up enough
  3. Not following up with the right tone
  4. Not following up with the right information or a plan
  5. Not tracking lead interaction

Let’s look at each one in more detail.

1. Not following up fast enough 

We live in the digital age and the age of immediacy and instant gratification. For example, when you place an order online, you almost immediately expect to receive an order confirmation email.

Once the initial excitement has worn off, sales emails like these give you reassurance that the sales team has begun to process your order, as well as also making us feel valued and appreciated.

In much the same way, when a lead of any type interacts with our company, whether it be a product or service, they expect an immediate response. 

And by immediate these days, we really do mean immediate. In fact, studies have shown that leads become qualified more readily by a factor of 21 times if they are contacted within 5 minutes, rather than at 30 minutes.

This is really important. You may think 30 minutes is fast. It isn’t.

How to improve response rates

You should aim for a 5 minute response time. 

However, it may not be possible to respond this fast to enquiries manually, particularly if you are involved in working on and delivering for your clients when a lead arrives. 

This is where email marketing and marketing automation steps in. Tools like Mailchimp and HubSpot make sending a follow up email easy, allowing you to set up an automated response that triggers when someone takes a desired action on your site. They even allow you to see which email addresses open the email, giving you powerful and intelligent data.

Setting up campaigns like these means your prospect receives the instant response they are expecting, and their rate of conversion to a qualified lead remains high. 

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2. Not following up enough

An area in which a lot of sales people let themselves down is in not following up enough after making a good start with a lead. 

According to a study by Breve, 80% of sales require an average of five follow-ups in order to close the deal. However, 44% of sales reps follow up with a prospect only once before giving up. After four follow-ups, 94% of salespeople have given up.

That means a huge number of sales are being lost by people who do not push up to and beyond the 5th follow up. 

The main reason prospects do not come back to salespeople after having shown an initial interest is not that they have lost their interest, but because they are busy! Everybody knows what it's like to have a huge number of things competing for their attention.

How to improve your follow up length

Salespeople need to remember this and be more tenacious in their follow-ups. Take your original email template and extend it, adding numerous follow up emails.

Check out this article by HubSpot for some email copy ideas for your follow up campaign.

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3. Not following up with the right tone

There is an understandable fear of being seen as a “pushy salesperson” and as result, scaring your customer away. 

Clearly contacting your prospect daily, on multiple platforms, and in the wrong tone of voice would be off-putting for most prospects. 

However, it is certainly important to try different platforms. You might find a certain prospect much prefers communicating on Linkedin for example rather than via email. 

The key here is to space or time your contacts appropriately. You might be dealing with a prospect whose firm might be considering spending thousands of pounds with you. This type of purchasing decision takes time, so following them up every day might be counter-productive. In my experience, daily is too much and as little as monthly is not enough, so the balance is between weekly and fortnightly in most cases.

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How to improve your follow up tone

For me the key is to keep things relevant to the prospect and personalised wherever possible.

Prospects do not want to receive generic follow-ups once the relationship has been established. Instead of a cold email, a prospect wants to know that what you are suggesting in each communication is considered and applicable to them and the problem they are trying to solve. 

Simple things like using their name in the subject lines and greetings of emails and messages is very impactful. A great feature of HubSpot is the ability to create a smart call-to-action, allowing you to personalise the email copy to individual leads and their stage of the buyer journey.

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4. Not following up with the right information or a plan 

This is all about providing value in your follow-ups with your prospects. 

What does this look like? Always relate your messaging to a prospect's pain point. You know they are trying to solve a particular problem, so make sure to focus on these pain points and to show the ways in which your product or solution can solve them.

How to improve your follow up content

A really good thing to do here might be to include links to useful articles or content that will reassure the prospect you are looking for a mutually beneficial relationship, and have their best interests in mind.

Go back to your marketing strategy, in particular your buyer personas. Make sure you fully understand what their pain points are before crafting your content marketing efforts to those.

Another quick tip is don’t be vague when following up. Always have a plan and articulate it. 

Suggesting “catching up next week” isn’t great. Instead, “how about a call on Tuesday next week at 10:30 or 11:45?” is much better. Even better go a step further briefly explain what you will discuss on the call and how it will help your prospect in solving their problem.

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5. Not tracking lead interaction

A successful salesperson will be talking to multiple leads (potentially about multiple problems) at any given time. 

Even better, a salesperson will be sure to make notes of each customer interaction in regard to the project at hand, but also on a human level. For example, if you know a client has just enjoyed a skiing holiday, a successful sales person will be sure to ask them how it went. 

This demonstrates the kind of interpersonal skills and emotional intelligence that people buy into. Despite the huge digitisation of the world, people still very much buy from people.

How to improve lead interaction

There are numerous, excellent CRM resources available, which will support, store and remind the best salespeople of the key points for each prospect they are dealing with. 

We use HubSpot at MM:Growth and with our clients. The CRM functionality allows you to track the life-cycle of your prospects all the way to becoming customers, repeat customers and advocates of your business.

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How would you rate your follow up?

Getting started with your follow up efforts is easy: Simply hit send! Beyond that, make sure your follow up campaign is personable, consistent and detailed. 

By doing so, you’ll be well on your way to a world-class customer experience, leading to not only happier customers, by true customer loyalty.Check out some of the recommended reading in this blog, our get in touch with us to discuss your follow up needs.