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The art of following up in sales: 4 follow-up strategies

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Key takeaways

  • Follow up with prospective clients up to six times or until you get a definite no to avoid missing out on good sales opportunities
  • Use customizable email templates to personalize outreach and boost your response rates
  • Keep sales messages brief but effective to avoid wasting your prospect’s time

Your lead generation efforts can help you win new prospects, but they don’t always guarantee a sale. When leads give you their phone number or email address, they’re likely still weighing their options and doing research about your brand before making a final decision.

If you want to close deals instead of letting sales leads slip away, learn to follow up with prospects at the right times and persuade them to buy. Here’s what you need to know about following up in sales, from the best times for outreach to the most effective follow-up strategies to use.

When to send follow-up messages

Not following up enough can lead to missed opportunities when trying to make a sale. But following up too often and too quickly can irritate prospects and make you (or your salespeople) seem too pushy. To help you find the sweet spot for your outreach, consider these four intervals for following up in sales.

1. After generating a lead

When you generate a lead, it’s important to respond as quickly as you can. Your lead is actively interested, which means following up immediately—perhaps before your competitors do—can help you close the sale faster. Consider using an email marketing platform like ActiveCampaign or Mailchimp to set up automated (and personalized) emails that will be sent when customers fill out a contact form.

Tip: Yelp product experts analyzed the behavior of businesses who use the “Request a Quote” feature on Yelp—a tool that allows consumers to send project details to a business(es) for a price quote—and responding quickly was the number one best practice for securing the job. 

2. After making a sales pitch

Once you’ve made a sales pitch to a prospective client, keep your prospect’s attention to continue moving them along your sales funnel. Check in after no more than two days to review the highlights of your pitch, identify any hesitations your buyer still has, and strengthen the perceived value of your product or service.

3. When you don’t get a response

Business woman on the phone

Not getting a response is no reason to give up. Great salespeople are persistent. If you don’t hear back after your initial follow-up, reach out again after a couple of days. If you still don’t hear back, you can follow up again after a few days, then continue your outreach weekly or monthly thereafter so your business remains top of mind with potential customers.

You can keep reaching out until you get a definite no. However, as a rule of thumb, many sales professionals end their outreach after six follow-ups unless they’ve developed a closer relationship with their lead. For instance, if you’ve had a one-on-one meeting already, you can better determine your prospect’s level of interest and decide if they’re worth pursuing further.

4. When a potential customer is ready

Sometimes, the best way to figure out when to follow up with a potential client is by asking. If a sales lead tells you they’re not planning to make a purchase quite yet, ask them when they’ll be making a final decision. Get to know their timeline and put a follow-up in your calendar accordingly.

4 effective sales follow-up strategies

Following up in sales isn’t just about mastering your timing. You’ll also need messaging that piques prospects’ interest and drives them through the sales process. Here are four follow-up strategies you can use to improve your company’s outreach.

1. Prioritize personalization over automation

We all want to save time when following up in sales. However, completely automating your follow-ups isn’t ideal. If you’re sending generic sales follow-up email sequences to your leads every time you reach out, your business probably isn’t standing out.

Instead of exclusively setting up automated email campaigns, boost efficiency by creating follow-up email templates, which you can customize with information that speaks to individual customers’ pain points, details you discussed in a previous conversation, and more. A touch of personalization—beyond simply using your prospect’s name in a subject line—can help you optimize your sales results. Similarly, any text message templates and sales call scripts you use should allow for some personalization.

You can also use a customer relationship management tool (CRM) like Salesforce or Zoho CRM to keep track of your client details and take notes about your conversations to make personalization easier.

2. Choose the right sales channels

Business woman working on laptop

The best channel to reach clients can be different for every business. For example, if you own an accounting firm for startups and small businesses, you might get the best response rates when you follow up on a social media network like LinkedIn. Consider what sales channels are most convenient for the decision-makers you’re targeting and prioritize those.

For many sales teams, an email follow-up strategy is ideal. Since it’s less intrusive than a phone call, it gives you the chance to follow up more often without pushing your lead. However, you can always use multiple channels in your sales cycle. For example, you could start with a follow-up call to make a highly personable first impression before sending your first email. Then, you can do more email follow-ups or even mail a handwritten note to stand out.

3. Don’t take up too much time

No one wants to read a five-paragraph email, be on an unexpected call for 30 minutes, or listen to a lengthy voicemail—especially if it’s a cold call or cold email. If you don’t want to get an instant “no thanks” after your next touchpoint (or interaction), make your message as brief as possible. Great sales reps get to the point quickly, focusing on customer needs, and include a clear call to action at the end.

4. Keep your tone positive

When you’re following up in sales, your positivity can be contagious. Unyielding friendliness and excitement about your product or service can impress your leads and play a role in convincing them that your brand is the right choice. As a sales rep for your business, it’s critical to fully believe in the messages you send and always be willing to help.

One way to show off your positivity is by avoiding negative follow-up strategies. For example, you don’t want to guilt-trip prospects for not responding right away. Using fear tactics—like a pest control brand warning of an infestation if a prospect doesn’t schedule a treatment—can also add distance to your client relationships and reduce their willingness to buy.

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Win new customers by following up in sales

Following up in sales is a key part of the sales process that turns hesitant leads into paying customers. Since most leads aren’t ready to make a purchase straight away, your outreach should aim to convince them that your brand and its products or services are the right choice. Create a follow-up schedule that helps you reach out to clients at the right times. Make sure to include outreach after your sales pitch, and never give up after your first follow-up attempt.

Implement effective follow-up strategies—like employing customizable templates to quickly personalize your emails, using sales channels your ideal clients use, or making your messages as brief as possible—to make your efforts count. Once you’ve perfected your follow-ups, continue improving your results by learning how to win more sales with effective lead management.

The information above is provided for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice and may not be suitable for your circumstances. Unless stated otherwise, references to third-party links, services, or products do not constitute endorsement by Yelp.