How to Follow up Successfully After a Sale
Finding new customers can be a time-consuming, costly and - let’s face it - exhausting process. So when you close a sale and get someone new on your books, you want to hang on to them for as long as you can!
If you can deliver a great customer experience, people are much more likely to use you next time they need your product or services. Customers in a long-term relationship with a business tend to recommend it to their friends—and 90% of people are much more likely to trust a recommended brand. All of which means even less cold calling for your sales team.
To build a long-term relationship with your customer, you need to make sure you’re following up on your sales. But how do you get the most out of that critical follow-up contact in order to establish a long and beautiful relationship?
Use this first follow-up call to ask if there’s anything more you can do for the customer. You can have a debrief on the sale and identify what you could have improved. This kind of proactive service helps nip potential issues in the bud.
If there are issues, you now have the chance to resolve them before they become a major problem for your customer. You also have the opportunity to rectify a potentially negative situation before they can leave you a bad review or tell their contacts not to buy from you.
The first after-sale call with your customer should be about establishing your relationship. But, if the conversation heads that way, you can also sow the seeds of a new idea or additional product they may benefit from.
Find the right moment to upsell
As I just mentioned, the follow-up call might present you with an ideal opportunity for upselling or cross-selling. When you’ve got a happy customer in tow, it’s natural for a hungry salesperson to pick up the phone and see what else they can get.
The best way to upsell after the initial purchase is to let the customer know how they will benefit from the opportunity—i.e., that there’s something in it for them. Let’s say they ordered an item but it hasn’t been dispatched yet. You could get in touch and offer them the chance to add an additional product to the same order, which would reduce the shipping costs.
However, it’s important to tread carefully. For example, if a customer is having an issue with the product or service they’ve just bought, it’s probably not the best time to go straight in for another sale! And for high-value clients or highly consultative sales processes, immediate upselling may not be the best route to take.
If you can build a lasting relationship with the customer, there will be plenty of further opportunities for upselling—and maximizing the customer lifetime value. That’s why it’s important to get the follow-up call just right.
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Establish your customer’s preferences
Your customer should feel like the most important person in your world. However, you cannot expect the same in return from them. They have a million and one things to worry about, of which your product or service is just one. They really won’t appreciate daily calls from you, just ‘checking in.’ Instead, if you have not done so already, establish your client’s communication preferences.
How frequently would they like to be contacted and which communication channels do they prefer? Salespeople often assume that older customers tend to favor the phone, while millennials like to use SMS and instant messaging. But preferences evolve over time.
In a 2021 survey, email had replaced phone as customers’ preferred communication method, while messaging was the second most utilized channel. Social selling is also rising in popularity, with 78% of social sellers outselling peers who don’t use social media.
But there’s only one way to find out whether your customer fits into these trends—ask them! Always respect their wishes and schedule your communication accordingly.
You should also respect their wish not to be contacted. It is rare for a customer to ask you specifically not to call them, but if they don’t wish to receive email or text communication, make sure you don’t send them any. Otherwise, you may get a very irate response when they do eventually answer the phone.
Timing is everything
Once you’ve established your client’s personal preferences, make comprehensive contact notes and a schedule. And, make sure you stick to them! This involves taking the time to get to know your customers.
If they requested that you call them in the evenings, there’s no point in you trying to call while they’re at work in the daytime. You need to take time zones into consideration, too, in order to avoid waking someone up in the middle of their night!
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Establish customer service objectives to make sure your team keeps its focus. It may be worth expanding your training with some real life customer service objective examples in order to make sure everyone is on the same page.
It’s critical that you keep in contact with your customers without becoming a nuisance. If you do start to irritate them, they will start to gatekeep your calls. The relationship will sour and, eventually, you’ll let a competitor through the door. It’s much better to build a long-term relationship than get a few up-front sales.
Don’t be afraid of small talk
People buy from people. I really cannot stress that enough! People want to feel like they matter. And it’s much harder for somebody to say no to somebody they know and trust.
Now that’s not to suggest that you should be building up trust in order to abuse it for the sake of extra sales. Buyer satisfaction depends heavily on your customer feeling like you’re talking to them for more than just their money.
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Throughout the sales process, you’ll have spent time building up a rapport with your customer. I know this because you wouldn’t have won the sale if you hadn’t. Don’t let that go to waste.
Wondering how to stay in touch with clients? Remember the personal things that you discussed in previous meetings and ask them about those. Kids or grandkids, sports and other hobbies; find that common ground and ask them about it.
That’s not to say you need to be having hour-long chats - there are few people with enough free time in their day for that. But assuming your customer likes you (and they likely wouldn’t have bought from you in the first place if they didn’t), you’ll find that a bit of genuine, personal ice-breaking works wonders for your relationship.
Don’t treat your customers like a piggy bank
We all know the scenario. Month-end is approaching and you’ve still got a way to go to hit your sales target. Your sales manager is asking you once every five minutes for an updated forecast and you’ve exhausted all of your leads. So you start going down your customer list looking for somebody that hasn’t bought for a while.
After all, you’ve spent so much time building customer loyalty that you can rely on them, right?
This is a common scenario and a sales technique often encouraged by managers. While it might get results in the short term, it can actively harm your long-term customer relationships.
Calls with your customer should always be of mutual benefit. Proactively calling with a product which will genuinely add value to their life is a good idea. However, speculatively discussing a product that the customer has shown no interest in will likely put them on their guard. This will also damage your credibility when you do offer something of benefit.
Keep an eye on your sales forecasting in Excel and if you look like you’re going to fall short, get out and knock on some doors. Instead of badgering your long-term customers with a transparent last-ditch plea for money, lace up your shoes and hit the pavement (or, these days, the phone).
You might find some new customers, or you might not. But at least your manager will see you making the effort and your loyal customers won’t feel undervalued.
Effective follow-up leads to long-term customer relationships
Your relationship with your customer doesn’t end with the sale. People who have given you their business quite rightly expect additional contact and support. They want to feel as though their investment has value to you and your company.
It’s crucial to follow up every sale with customer contact. Don’t save your contact for necessary tasks like signing a free NDA template or confirming their address. Be proactive - this will not only help you identify any arising issues before they become a problem, but will also help you to build a longer lasting relationship.
Not every call has to be a sales call in order for you to benefit from a customer relationship. But by building trust, you’ll find it easier to identify new opportunities. Both parties will benefit from this in the long term.