Rarely is a sale made after an initial contact with a prospect, especially for any large ticket item or service. Customers buy on their schedule and it is the salesperson’s job to stay in touch with the prospect during the sales cycle.

One of the keys to successful sales follow-up is making sure your message has value. A contact or visit that conveys “Have you decided yet?” is often viewed as intrusive and is seldom successful. A better message conveys appreciation for the prospect’s interest and a willingness to respond to any questions and help the prospect flourish.

Here are the primary modes of keeping in touch with prospects and some related guidance:

  • Phone calls – The telephone is the most common — and possibly the most frustrating — tool used to stay in touch with a prospect. Often the prospect is unavailable or busy. In either case, you should be prepared. If you do connect with the prospect, express your appreciation for his or her time and deliver your message clearly. Be prepared to leave a voice mail, something like the following:

“Good morning, Mrs. Jones. I’m sorry we are unable to speak directly. I wanted to offer some additional thoughts on how our new widget may increase the efficiency of your manufacturing process. I will drop some materials in the mail today. If you would like the information immediately, please call me at 800-555-9876. I expect to be available all day today. If we don’t connect, please leave a message indicating the most convenient time for me to phone you. Thank you.”

  • Email – Email has become the communication method of choice for many busy people. While email tends to be less formal than other forms of the written word, make sure your messages are grammatically correct and conform to email etiquette. Also make sure to include information on how to contact you.

To ensure your email adds value, include a hyperlink to additional information on your product or of general interest, such as an insightful article in a trade publication.

  • U.S. Mail – Sending a short handwritten note thanking a prospect for a meeting shows your manners and conveys a sense of personal commitment to the prospect.
  • Newsletters – Newsletters (either paper or electronic) can be an effective way to stay in touch with large numbers of prospects and leads. One way to make your newsletter more valuable to the prospect is to mix information about your products/services with other information that will help the prospect be more effective in his or her role.

Staying in touch with prospects and leads is critical. Developing a system that consistently utilizes multiple modes of communication can make the process easier and more productive.

This news is provided as a service to you by Marlin Business Services Corp., a nationwide leader in commercial lending solutions for the U.S. small business sector. Marlin’s equipment financing and loan programs are available directly and through third-party vendor programs, including manufacturers, distributors, independent dealers and brokers, to deliver financing and working capital that help build your success.