The Art of the Follow-Up, Part 1: Nail Your Timing

Learn how to nail the timing of your sales follow-ups to boost conversions. Discover what the data tells us, and follow five concrete steps to improve your team's timing.

The Art of the Follow-Up, Part 1: Nail Your Timing
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Apr 17, 2023 04:39 PM
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Every sales leader dreams of the perfect follow-up cadence. The one that hooks prospects while never getting pushy. The rhythm that keeps your product or service front of mind and builds trust between salesperson and buyer.
Does this perfect follow-up exist?
Whether you're following up after a lead is initially qualified, reaching out after a meeting or demo, or simply following up on your own follow-up, there are two baseline metrics that influence the efficacy of sales communication: timing and frequency.
Today, we’re talking about timing. We’ll reveal what the current data tells sales leaders about the best pacing for follow-ups, then share five concrete steps you can take to tighten up your team’s timing and up your conversions.
Ready to explore actionable ways you can prevent the most common process breakdowns? Let’s dive in.

Key components of the perfect follow-up

It’s no secret that sales reps can’t just leave a prospect a single voicemail, sip their matcha latte, and simply expect to hear back. According to The Brevet Group, it takes an average of eight cold call attempts to reach a prospect. Given the hectic pace of the 21st century and our ever-shrinking attention spans, that’s not surprising. But what is surprising is that given this data, more than half of sales reps fail to follow up after only one call.
That’s a lot of missed opportunities. So what’s a team leader to do?
When evaluating follow-ups, team leaders need to be able to answer the following questions:
  • How quickly are your reps following up with prospects?
  • How often are they doing it?
Timing and frequency. Once you have these answers, you can evaluate how effective current practices are and proactively make changes to improve them.
So what does the data tell us about best practices?

Nail Down the timing

Timing matters in sales. What time of day or day of the week you make cold calls can have a huge influence on success rates. But timing is also critical when prospects reach out to you. If reps fail to respond in a timely manner, prospects are more than likely going to move on to a competitor.
So what’s considered “a timely manner” in these cold interactions? Within 48 hours? By EOD? Nope. Recent studies have found that reps who contact leads within an hour are 7 times more likely to have productive conversations with decision makers.
Once you’ve reached a decision-maker, you can still expect to make at least 6 calls to win the deal. In fact, 80% of sales require five follow-ups even after a meeting, so don’t allow your team to lag in following up even after initial contacts and demos.
Ready to take advantage of this data and multiply your success rates? It all starts with tweaking your sales process. Here are five steps to nailing down the most effective timing for follow-ups.

1. Set a timeline.

Examine your current practices. Does your playbook specify that sales reps should be following up with prospects and leads within a certain period? And even if this expectation is laid out, are reps actually meeting that timeframe?
Based on what you’ve learned, create new or adjust your current processes. Clearly communicate this change of expectations to reps. Then decide on a timeframe to test it out. Make sure you choose a long enough timeline that you can actually see whether your change is having an effect.

2. Test your timeline.

Once you have a follow-up timeframe set, let your team have at it. If you offer a product or service with a higher price point and therefore a slower pipeline, be patient. It may take longer to see results. Check in with your team regularly to get feedback. Are they successfully achieving the response timeline you’ve set? Are they struggling? If so, why? What kind of response are they seeing already?

3. Gauge your results.

When you reach the initial goal post you’ve set, it’s time to assess. Was your team able to achieve the response time you decided on? What effect did this have on moving leads through the pipeline? What effect did it have on your conversion rate for this period? Evaluate to what extent the response time had positive results and for which members of your team. Should this change be implemented in your sales playbook on a longer-term basis?

4. Check for adherence.

While it's always beneficial to track adherence, it’s especially important to check if you’re not seeing the results that you hoped for. Were your team members actually able to meet the deadline for responding to leads, or were they falling short? If they weren’t able to meet this expectation, you need to understand why not. Are they lacking a helpful tool or resource? Could they be managing their time more effectively? Are other processes getting in the way?

5. Repeat.

Start these steps over again with another incremental change. Remember, the goal is to get proactive about your process in general—and about the timing of your team’s follow-ups in particular. If you make another small change, like shaving another 5 minutes off the initial follow-up time, you can find out if that makes a positive difference to your conversion rate down the line.

Key components of the perfect follow-up

Getting the timing right for follow-ups is crucial for boosting conversions. The data is clear—even an hour or two can make a significant difference. If reps don’t nail the timing, leads can easily fall through the cracks. That’s why managers and team leaders need to be able to monitor their sales process for what’s actually happening. An ideal process is nice—but it means nothing if it’s not being followed.
Making follow-up timing a part of your process review means you can pinpoint if it’s an area where you’re leaking revenue—and get proactive about keeping it from leaking in the first place. Talk with a Gluework expert today and experience how our cutting-edge technology can help you monitor and optimize this process.
Remember, timing is only half the puzzle! Next, check out The Art of the Follow-Up, Part 2: Finding Your Frequency.

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Aviv Bergman

Written by

Aviv Bergman

Co-Founder at Gluework and RevOps Expert