Mastering Sales Follow Up (Automation, Giving Huge Value And MORE!)

Ruth van Vierzen is a sales and business growth expert. In this episode of The Salesman Podcast, Ruth explains the structure of the perfect sales follow up process.

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Featured on this episode:

Host - Will Barron
Founder of Salesman.org
Guest - Ruth van Vierzen
Business Growth Expert

Resources:

 

Transcript

Will Barron:

Do you want to know how you can automate some of your sales follow up, so that you can increase the percentage that you’ve got of winning the deal? Well this episode is for you.

 

Will Barron:

Hello, Sales Nation, welcome to today’s episode of The Salesman Podcast. On today show we have Ruth van Vierzen. She is the CEO of revsquared.ca, she has 20 years of experience in business development. On today’s show we’ll dive in to follow up, how to automate, how to give value to your prospect through your follow up process and a whole lot more. With all of that said, let’s jump in today’s episode.

 

Will Barron:

Ruth, welcome to the Salesman Podcast.

 

Ruth van Vierzen:

Thank you. It’s great to be here.

 

Will Barron:

It’s great to have you on, I’m glad to have you on.

 

Which is More Important: Following Up More Frequently or Following Up Better Within a Sales Cadence? · [00:40] 

 

Will Barron:

I’m going to have today a subject, which I think is going to affect every single B2B salesperson that’s listening, and that is both follow up and then increasing the percentage chance of closing those follow ups as well. Where I want to start though, because I think the conversation can go in two different directions here. I want to ask you, which is more important following up more frequently with better cadence or following up more effectively within those interactions that we have with the potential customer?

 

“The statistics show that the average salesperson tends to stop following up after four times even though most sales are made between the fifth and 12th to 15th follow up. So I would say that the focus, first of all, for salespeople should be on just increasing the number of follow up touch points that they have and not try to perfect the quality of those. So, it’s really about training ourselves to establish a follow up system that has multiple touch points because that’s where the average salesperson really falls short and loses out on a lot of sales.” – Ruth Van Vierzen · [01:21] 

 

Ruth van Vierzen:

That’s a good question. I would say, the ideal follow up system covers both. Having said that, one of the things that the statistics show is that most salespeople, the average salesperson tends to stop following up after four times but most sales are made between the fifth and 12th to 15th follow up, it varies. So I would say that the focus, first of all, for salespeople should be on just increasing the number of follow up touch points that they have and not try to perfect the quality of those. That definitely comes into play but it’s really about training ourselves to establish a follow up system that has multiple touch points because that’s where the average salesperson really falls short and loses out on a lot of sales.

 

Sales Touch Points: How Much is Too Much? · [02:08] 

 

Will Barron:

So this statistic has come up on the show before, and I don’t want to put you on the spot, I don’t know if you know the research data behind it. But is this four touch points, in general, whether people reply or not, or is this four touch points when we’ve just not had anything back? Then I guess you can somewhat appreciate when people are starting to get a bit miserable when they’re firing off emails into the ether, not getting anything back whatsoever.

 

Ruth van Vierzen:

Yes. What I recommend is setting up a system where you have a minimum of 10 to 15 touch points, just at a minimum. Even if you’re not necessarily hearing back, an ideal follow up system has multiple types of touches. So a phone call, an email, social media, it uses multiple things. Some are a little bit softer than others and a little bit easier for the salesperson than others. Even if you’re not getting that direct response, it gives you the confidence to keep going and still stay top of mind by dripping on that prospect.

 

Will Barron:

And how… [crosstalk 00:03:07]. Go on.

 

Ruth van Vierzen:

I do appreciate that this is the challenge for sales people, when we’re not hearing back, we think that the person is silently saying “No,” but I would say in almost all cases, that’s actually not the case. It’s just that they’re either non-responsive, they haven’t received what you sent to them, they haven’t had time, there’re many reasons that have nothing to do with the person’s interest in your product or service.

 

Will Barron:

I love this. So they’re not silently saying “No,” because by doing that, we’re almost rejecting ourselves before we even get a “No” off someone else. I know this, with the audience, when they’re trying to contact me, I am terrible with emails, I just get too many of them. I need some help right now, I need some kind of assistance to help me process them. They’re coming in from the ad sales, they’re coming in from, guests like yourself, they’re coming in from the audience, they’re coming in from people who want me to do other projects and other things. What I typically do, at the end of the day, is throw them all into folder and then never look back at them again, unfortunately. I’m just using this as a quick example here.

 

Touch Points and Reaching Out to Extremely Busy Individuals · [04:30] 

 

Will Barron:

When people email me, I’m not rejecting them. I’m not saying “No.” I’ve probably not even read the email, maybe I’ve read the subject line, if it hasn’t initially grabbed my attention, I’ve not replied to it. Even more context, I’m no big shot with any of this. If you’re emailing the C-suite, they’re going to be getting crazy, more emails and crazy, more important emails than what I am, both internally and externally. If you’re trying to initiate conversation with anyone on that kind of level, it gets even more complex, doesn’t it?

 

Ruth van Vierzen:

It does. I’ll actually give you a great example around that because you’re hitting on all of the reasons why I encourage people to have a follow up system, because everyone is so busy. I was actually doing follow up for one of the courses that I’m promoting and I hired one of my assistants to do the initial cold calling and then I was doing the email follow up. After the email I did phone call follow up and I contacted, it was the CEO of the company and I left him a voicemail and to his credit, he called me back. He said, “I answer every phone call I receive,” which I thought was really impressive. Then he said, “I didn’t know what you were talking about, I never got your email.” It turns out that the email my assistant had been given was a general mailbox for the company that he said, “Well, if the receptionist isn’t looking at it, no one’s looking at it.” He gave me his personal email.

 

Ruth van Vierzen:

That’s a great example of someone who, if I hadn’t called him, my email would’ve just gone off into Neverland and no one ever would have seen it. That’s the value of having a system that has different ways of reaching out to your prospects.

 

Developing a Sales Follow Up System and Why It’s Crucial for Prospecting Success · [05:55]

 

Will Barron:

Is a system, because you keep using this words and I’m intrigued. Is a system what we should be implementing as well to reduce perhaps any element of procrastination or any element of overwhelm, if we’ve got a particularly large one month where we’re doing more prospecting perhaps than another month. Is a system the way we should be looking at it, is that the way to define this, there’s defined things that we’d do as soon as that first outreach, email, call, or whatever goes out.

 

Ruth van Vierzen:

Absolutely. That’s one of the things, if you take the time to develop a follow up system, which actually would take you maybe a day to flesh it out, decide what your content’s going to be, and what your steps are. I have this training that I provide, it’s free training on follow up. Through the whole training, I talk about developing your system and how to do that because it has what I call, built in accountability.

 

Ruth van Vierzen:

Going back to what you were saying earlier, about how you need an assistant, if many people either don’t have the time as sales professionals to do follow up or they just don’t do it because they don’t like doing it and they can’t get past whatever their issue is around it. I encourage those people to hire an assistant who will actually implement the follow up system for them. This is where the built-in accountability is really important in the system.

 

Ruth van Vierzen:

If you have a system and you know what your steps are, then you’re either are going to hold yourself accountable, you’re going to have it in your calendar, it’s one of the key parts of the system and you know what you’re supposed to be doing each day. If you have an assistant doing your follow up, it’s very easy to go and check and make sure that they’re doing the steps. If steps are being missed, then you know what needs to be followed up on. If a system has built an accountability for you or if you’re a salesperson and you have a team of salespeople that you are responsible for, then you’ve made it easier for them to do the follow up and you can track what steps they’re taking and if they’re doing it properly.

 

Ruth van Vierzen:

[crosstalk 00:07:55] Go ahead.

 

Is “I Don’t Like Doing This” a Good Enough Excuse Not To Do Something? · [08:29]  

 

Will Barron:

I’m Just going to interject here for a second, because assistance is something that I’m all in on. We’ve done a couple of shows on this. Clearly in the corporate world, it’s one thing saying to your boss or your sales manager, “I need an assistant because they can do all these tasks that I can spend the rest of my time generating revenue and I’m not doing them.” It’s another thing for your sales manager to get you an assistant. Then we’ve talked about, on the show before, virtual assistance and doing it under the radar and all this kind and stuff. We don’t need to dive into that, but something I did want to touch on, because I don’t know the answer to, and it depends, I guess who you’re asking. I want to get your thoughts on it, Ruth, is “I don’t like doing this” a good enough excuse not to do something? When you see yourself as being a sales professional, when we’re using that word, as opposed to someone who’s just fell into sales and is going to fall back out of it.

 

“I think that any salesperson worth being in the career of sales should be doing their own follow up to some extent, at least initially because you learn so much from the process.” – Ruth Van Vierzen · [08:52]

 

Ruth van Vierzen:

I agree with you and I see what you’re saying. I think that, even if your plan is ultimately to have an assistant do it in some way, I think that any salesperson worth being in the career of being in sales should be doing their own follow up to some extent, at least initially because you learn so much from the process. 

 

“A good follow up system is about providing value for your prospect and about hitting upon their pain points. A follow up system is you’re dripping on them, over that period of dripping on them, whatever the typical buying journey is for the product or service, you are going to be building that trust.” – Ruth Van Vierzen · [09:07]

 

Ruth Van Vierzen

One of the things I talk about as well, a good follow up system is about providing value for your prospect, suspect prospect, whatever you want to call the person. It’s also about hitting upon their pain points. A follow up system is, you’re dripping on them, over that period of dripping on them, whatever the typical buying journey is for the product or service, you are going to be building that trust. They’re getting to know you, getting to like you because you’re providing them with value, but also you should really just be speaking to their pain points, Whatever the typical pain points are in your industry for the clients you serve.

 

“Every salesperson should be involved in the follow system process. They should be developing it. If they’re just not doing it, if they can’t get over it, whatever their reasons are, fear of rejection, lack of organisation, they’re too busy, whatever. They really should hand it off to someone because their sales will suffer for it.” – Ruth Van Vierzen · [09:59]

 

Ruth van Vierzen:

If you’ve had a good initial conversation with that person, you should know what their personal pain points are. What it is that they’re looking for? You’re for follow systems should speak to those over a period of time. Every salesperson should be involved in the follow system process. They should be developing it. What I keep coming back to is, if they’re just not doing it, if they can’t get over whatever their reasons are, fear of rejection, lack of organisation, they’re too busy, whatever. They really should hand it off to someone because their sales will suffer for it.

 

Will Barron:

It makes total sense.

 

The Follow Up Cadence After the Initial No Response · [10:30] 

 

Will Barron:

There’s a couple terms here that I want to double down on. All the marketers that are listening are smiling, they’re nodding, they get all of this. Things like drip and content, to some extent is talked about in sales and some people believe sales people should be showing content. Some people believe that salespeople should just be selling and, obviously that’s a debate for another time perhaps. Speaking to pain points, providing value. What does this follow up look like? Perhaps after that first call, when we’ve had a conversation we’ve not heard back, what’s the cadence? What are the emails or the calls? What to included with them? How can we add value through these touch points, rather than just leaving a voicemail saying, “Hey, it’s Will, call me back, I’ve not heard from you for a week,” which is the usual kind of voicemail that I think salespeople are leaving.

 

Ruth van Vierzen:

One of the things I suggest, because I provide an example follow up system, one of the things you can do is just do a follow up call to confirm that the person received the email with your attachment, for example. Going back to what you said earlier, “We’re so busy,” quite often emails go into the junk folder. It happens to me all the time, I find out that my emails have gone into junk. It’s a great way to follow up just to say “I’m just calling to confirm that you received the report that I sent to you. If you had a chance to look at it, I’d love to get some feedback on what you thought about it.”

 

Ruth van Vierzen:

Let’s say for example, you’ve had a phone call or you’ve met someone at a networking event and then you email them something, that’s my suggestion. Now you send them an email and you provide them, maybe a white paper or a report “10 Steps to Avoid X, Y, Z.” Then you’re following up to have a conversation just around that. You’re not selling, you’re just having a conversation to get their feedback on that. Then you can say, “Do you mind if I connect with you on LinkedIn?” then you’re going the next step you say, “Can we connect with each other on social media?” Then you could ask them for permission to put them into your email autoresponder series. That could be five, 10 emails where each email is very brief speaking to a specific pain point that’s typical in your industry for customers.

 

Ruth van Vierzen:

So it’s definitely, going back to that dripping word, you’re just gently dripping on them to stay top of mind. It’s not a hard sell. I know that some people prefer the hard sell approach, I can’t think of an industry where that works, but I encourage a gentle, dripping approach because it also works for most salespeople. It takes away the sense of I’m pestering the person, I’m annoying them, I think they just don’t want to say “No” to me. It kind of addresses that from both sides.

 

Every salesperson should be involved in the follow system process. They should be developing it. What I keep coming back to is, if they’re just not doing it, if they can’t get over whatever their reasons are, fear of rejection, lack of organisation, they’re too busy, whatever. They really should hand it off to someone because their sales will suffer for it.

 

“The follow up isn’t chasing the deal or the close. All those shenanigans happen very naturally, hopefully, if you’ve done everything else right during the process.” – Will Barron · [13:22]

 

Will Barron:

What you’re describing here, which is perfect, and I’m so glad that you’ve gone down this route, Ruth. Clearly you and I don’t know each other that well, so I’m glad that you did, because this is the whole philosophy of the podcast, is what I want to drill into the audience. That is, “The follow up isn’t chasing the deal, the deal, the close, all those shenanigans happens very naturally.” Hopefully, if you’ve done everything else right during the process, you get to the point where you ask the question, “Would you like to move forward with this?” or something similar. There’s no manipulation, there’s no weird phone techniques and getting people on the phone and then, while on the phone, getting their card details off them and not letting them off the hook or any hard sell or anything like that. What you’re describing here essentially is a phone call, an email conversation, meeting at an event, whatever it is, and then a nurturing campaign, and then talking about the sale at the end, am I on the right tracks with this?

 

Ruth van Vierzen:

Yeah.

 

Ruth van Vierzen:

I like your word “Nurturing,” I think that’s a great way to describe it. At some point it’s perfectly legitimate to ask the person, “Are you open to discussing how this product or service can benefit you” to move them towards a sale. Ideally, if the follow up system has been working well, at some point, they’re going to reach out to you, if you’ve hit them at the right time on their buying journey. I would say after touching on them multiple times, it’s completely legitimate to then ask for the sale. That’s something we have to make sure we do at some point is to, have the courage to say, “Are you open to trying this out, to buying my product or service?”

 

Will Barron:

Makes sense. I think I’ve got an example here because I do this with the ad sales of the podcast. You mentioned an email autoresponder. I use MailChimp. There’s plenty of them out there. There’s probably simpler ones than MailChimp as well, even though that’s relatively simple. If you’re somewhat nerdy, you can pick it up I’m sure.

 

Will Barron:

When I reach out to people in the sales industry, multi-billion dollar industry, especially sales trading specifically, and then sales enablement, these are the typical sponsors of the show. Just, a side note, because the audience likes to see what’s going on behind the scenes with the podcast, I’ve just signed on with of an ad agency who are going to be bringing non-sales related sponsors to the show. We’ve gotten to the size where they’re interested as well.

 

Ruth van Vierzen:

Oh, very good.

 

Will Barron:

That’s one side for a second. I reach out to these marketing managers within the sales enablement industry, the sales training industry, the CRM system industry, and 50% of the time they have no idea what the heck podcast advertising is. They have no idea the benefits of it. They have no idea why they should be paying attention to it, why they shouldn’t be paying attention to it. After 50 conversations, that went exactly the same way, describing the same benefits, and I won’t board the audience with them. Clearly, I’m not trying to sell the audience here. I set up a quick autoresponder. It’s got five emails in it, it goes one a day. Each email has multiple touch points within it that asks a question and tells them to reply to this email if they’re not sure if they want more information on that specific topic.

 

Will Barron:

That email autoresponder has won me more business than me being on the phone for hours on end. For me, chasing people over email and answering questions over email because people can consume it at their own pace. It took me a good afternoon to put together and it was put together from notes directly from a bunch of opportunity emails and calls that I made during the week before. It’s not theoretical, it’s from data from conversations. It’s an FAQ over five emails that people have asked, that have requested all this information in the past. It went down a storm and it saves me a tonne of time every week from answering all these questions that I’ve asked a million times over.

 

Will Barron:

As you’re describing this, I’ve kept that separate to follow up perhaps, I kept that as a content tool. The more and more we’re going through this Ruth, it seems like I could have an initial conversation, because most of the conversations I have are from inbound leads, it’s people hearing about the podcast, hearing their competitors on it and wanting to know how they can be involved as well, or at least know how they could level up the game by doing some kind of deal or sponsorship or working with us. It’s typically people reaching out on that front. Then I have a conversation with them, [inaudible 00:17:15] out, obviously the qualification, the budgets, that side of things, and then I move on to this email sequence.

 

The Benefits of Having an Email Autoresponder as Part of Your Follow  Up System · [17:22]

 

Will Barron:

I contact them again a week later and, without any effort from me, I’ve had 5, 6, 7 touch points with them at this point. How incredible is that? I don’t understand, tell me, maybe I’m missing something here because clearly I’m coming at this from a salesperson entrepreneur. Maybe I’m not coming out from the right angle from your experience though, Ruth. Is there any reason why a B2B salesperson couldn’t do something similar?

 

“One of the things that I encourage with a follow up system is, for it to be effective, it should be a combination of automated and manual, but as automated as possible.” – Ruth Van Vierzen · [18:19]

 

Ruth van Vierzen:

They absolutely could. This works for B2B or B2C. To your point, you’ve just provided a great example because, what I love about having an email, an autoresponder as part of a follow up system, is that it gives the salesperson tremendous piece of mind because you know that while you’re going about with your other activities, you’ve got this fantastic stuff on autopilot happening behind the scenes. So you’ve got this system working for you that you don’t have to be on with hands on it. One of the things that I encourage with a follow up system is, for it to be effective, it should be a combination of automated and manual, but as automated as possible. The other thing you can do… Well, I want to go back to your MailChimp example. Any of the autoresponders, the very basic thing that they’re going to allow a salesperson to do is to check and see who is opening your emails and what they’re clicking on and how they’re engaging with your email.

 

Ruth van Vierzen:

That is so powerful because that allows you to categorise your prospects in, into who’s cold, who’s warm, who’s hot. Then you can actually go back and look at that data and say, “You know what, that’s a person I might pop something into the mail to that guy because he’s opened every one of my emails.” This would be a great time and I encourage people to mail out hard things because it’s so seldom done and it really sets you apart. So now the person’s been reading your email, suddenly they get something kind of bulky in the mail from you, what a powerful way to really stay top of mind with them. You’ve got this autopilot piece of mind. The data is what’s so valuable about an email autoresponder as well.

 

Will Barron:

Perfect.

 

Will Barron:

So, I do this and it’s not complex. Just to give some context for of the audience here on MailChimp it, when you send the email, it tells you the emails that have been opened it. It’s not a hundred percent accurate, there’re certain ways to block it, I block it on my Gmail with a plugin. People cut stock me as well as I can stock them essentially. But it gives you the list of emails.

 

Will Barron:

You can see this person, if they’ve opened these five emails, as soon as they’ve arrived, perhaps they’ve opened them multiple times. They’re interested, even if they’re not responded to you. That’s a signal that maybe an email is the best way to give them information, but maybe a phone call, perhaps if they’re not responded to any follow up emails from that point, perhaps a phone call is the best way to get a discussion with them. Perhaps it’s on LinkedIn. Perhaps it’s a Skype call, if they’re in some country where it’s a bit more difficult to get them on the phone, I don’t know.

 

When to Start Moving Your Sales Cadence from Subtle Touch Points Into a Sales Conversation · [20:16] 

 

Will Barron:

How do we know once we’ve done, perhaps the first half of the system, perhaps we’ve got some automation, perhaps we’ve done some experiments, we’ve had some hypotheses of what we think the person’s going to need, want, to build like and trust of us. At what point do we take control of this and start to proactively move it forward?

 

“No matter what you send, every email should have a call to action.” – Ruth Van Vierzen · [21:00] 

 

Ruth van Vierzen:

I would say that after, when you’re about halfway into the system, that is a great time to start personalising the experience, just that much more with the prospect. I actually want to go back to what you said earlier, because I think it’s a really valuable thing that you do with your emails. Every email, no matter what you send, every email should have a call to action. Whether it’s “Can we get on the phone for a chat? Would you be interested in receiving my report? Hit ‘reply’ to this email, let me know.” You want the person to take some kind of action, which it’s really good the way you do that.

 

Ruth van Vierzen:

I’d say again about halfway through, you want to start turning up the heat a little bit and that’s where it’s perfectly legitimate to reach out to the person. I would say at that point, get on the phone because they’re not going to be surprised to hear from you, especially if you see that they’re opening your emails. If you’ve sent them something in the mail, get on the phone. Be very specific in what action it is that you are wanting them to take. If you want them in a meeting with you, be prepared to have that conversation.

 

“Don’t get on the phone until you’re really prepared about what it is you’re going to say and what your goal is for that conversation.” – Ruth Van Vierzen · [21:59] 

 

Ruth van Vierzen:

There’s a really good podcast you have, it’s all about voicemails, I would encourage your audience to listen to that, it’s really valuable stuff. Just don’t get on the phone until you’re really prepared about what it is you’re going to say and what your goal is for that conversation before you get off the phone.

 

Ruth van Vierzen:

I hope that answers your question.

 

Will Barron:

It, it does, it does.

 

Will Barron:

On call to actions again… I don’t think of any hero in this, this is only for trial and error that I’ve come up with these systems. I don’t necessarily have any call to actions that are, what we’d consider salesy, like “If you love all this so far, I’ll give you a call, just drop me a number,” anything weird like that. My call to actions are, for example, I think it’s in the second email that goes out. I mentioned… Oh, it’s actually on the desk over there. I usually have a model car on the desk. This is kind of the dream car. It’s all the way over there so I won’t grab it now, but I have a picture of that in the email and underneath it, one of the call to actions in the email is, “If you’re into cars, drop me an email reply to this. I’d love to know what you drive or what you’re into.”

 

Will Barron:

I’m trying to take it away from being totally salesy and more into the realm of building a personal brand with them, building rapport with them. Of course not everyone is into cars, but there’s a reasonable percentage of emails that I get back from these potential customers, they drive a Porsche or they’re into this, or they watch the Formula One, whatever it is. Immediately you’ve got a whole bunch of rapport with someone that you perhaps didn’t have beforehand. Just to encourage the audience, to think as much out the box as what they can, because one little nugget like that can differentiate you from the rest of the competition, for sure.

 

How to Become Accountable for All Follow Up Responsibilities · [23:30] 

 

Will Barron:

Ruth, how do we make ourselves accountable for this? Is this a case of time blocking, an hour every morning and only doing follow up during that time and not being distracted by anyone else? Is it having our sales manager know what our goals are for the week so that they can hound us for it? What’s the best way to stay accountable with all of this because, at this point in time, the audience are going, “Hell yeah, this sounds awesome, I’m going to put it into practise.” Then there’s a huge gap between them saying that, doing all the work and making it happen and then doing it for six months before you get all the results and all the seeds that you’ve planted and grow, for use of a terrible metaphor.

 

Ruth van Vierzen:

The two things that I find very powerful as tools are using Google Calendar and lists. I’m a big list person, but I put everything I need to do in the day on Google. Even if it’s a minute task, I will put it into my calendar for… That’s just one example of a calendar, but in my Effective Follow Up Training, I actually talk about the calendar as such a critical tool to keep us organised. So it’s really something that, if you’re following your system, you set up whatever steps you decide in your system, and then you put those steps into the calendar. Let’s say that you’ve been to a networking function. What I say to people is you don’t delay, within the next 24 hours, you absolutely have to put that person into your system because either you’re going to forget, you’re going to get at sidetracked and weeks are going to go by then you’re going to be too embarrassed. Now you’re going to look unprofessional.

 

Ruth van Vierzen:

I say to people, just don’t do anything until you have put that person into your system and put them into step one. People might come up with better systems. I’ll just go into my calendar and put a quick note, “Step three with Janet,” that lets me know that I have to do whatever as part of the follow up step or put Janet into the email autoresponder, whatever it is.

 

Ruth’s Follow Up Framework and Why It’s So Effective · [25:40] 

 

Will Barron:

Do you then go back on, let’s say, a Friday or even a Monday morning review, what was done last week and then move things along. I’m interested to know, literally what your processes there Ruth.

 

Ruth van Vierzen:

I used to overload my days. I was really guilty of putting way too much into my days and then I would be frustrated with myself that I didn’t get it all done. I was starting to burn out and I was like, this is not working. Now I schedule more manageable for myself, but the follow up is always a priority, certainly for me and I think it should be for any salesperson.

 

Ruth van Vierzen:

What I do is, for each day, at the end of the day, I look at what I haven’t completed in my list of tasks and I will then put them into whatever the next day or whatever day that I think is appropriate. If it’s less priority I’ll put it farther along, but it’s pretty rare that I ever take anything off my list.

 

“96% of sales professionals, and I think it’s a pretty solid statistic, most sales professionals don’t follow up. You’re literally giving sales to your competition, simply because you’re not following up, it’s crazy if you think about it.” – Ruth Van Vierzen · [26:52] 

 

Ruth van Vierzen:

Definitely for the follow up, if I have, for some reason, not done the follow up activity, I don’t finish my day until I have gotten that off my list. It’s very, very important, the follow up. I want to emphasise that statistic 96% of sales professionals, and I think it’s a pretty solid statistic, most sales professionals don’t follow up, I hear this from my clients.

 

Ruth van Vierzen:

I was just at a meeting yesterday and one partner said, “Yeah, he never follows up, he never follows up.” It’s an issue we’re having to address in their business. You’re literally giving sales to your competition, simply because you’re not following up, it’s crazy if you think about it. If you have a lead, you may not yet know how good of a lead they are, but they’re a lead, you’ve made the effort to connect with that person. As I say, they’re like gold so you really want to take care of them. As you say, to use your word, nurture. Nurture them along that process to see if you can ultimately turn them into a sale.

 

Will Barron:

Nothing could be worse than you do a load of prospecting, you build an initial list of people, you spend a lot of time with it, you spend a lot of effort with it, you reach out to them all, you put this, maybe doubt’s not the right word… You put this momentum in their mind that they’ve got a problem that they perhaps didn’t know about, you’ve uncovered it, you’ve had that initial call, and then, if you don’t follow up and they go with your competitor, you have literally handed your competitor a loaded business, which is crazy. The thought of that should get people to be following up and making the most of the time that they’ve already invested in those relationships.

 

Will Barron:

There’s one thing, Ruth, that I want to jump into, and this could probably be a whole episode on itself, so I’m aware of that so we’ll, we’ll keep it brief to wrap up the show with and that’s social selling.

 

Ruth’s Thoughts on Social Selling with Regards to Follow Up · [28:20] 

 

Will Barron:

Social selling is this big hype train, people are writing books about it. My thoughts on it are that it’s nothing new, it’s just selling. There’s just new platforms that we’re doing it on, I don’t think it’s worth the excitement everyone seems to be putting on it. What are your thoughts on it, Ruth, with regards to follow up? If someone is on Twitter, should we be a hundred percent going out and adding a Twitter touchpoint in our follow up campaign, or is the traditional email, phone, lumpy mail, then perhaps in-person at any conferences that we can get in front of them? Is that typically enough for a B2B salesperson?

 

Ruth van Vierzen:

In the follow up system, I have social media as part of the process with the caveat, that it should be a small part. Personally, I find that it is not the main way that I close sales. It goes to the other things that you just listed, more of the traditional ways. I think it’s a really valuable tool, but my concern also is that too many sales people are starting to use social media as a crutch. “I just did a Twitter connection with someone, I feel good about my day, I was productive.” Well, it’s not productive if it doesn’t result in anything.

 

Ruth van Vierzen:

When you connect with someone on Twitter, you follow them, they follow you, then you automatically get that autogenerated message from them. I’ve never had anyone do anything beyond me getting that one autogenerated message. They’re not following up beyond that with me. I’m not saying that they’re not good at follow up, but in terms of relying on something like Twitter, I think the risk is that makes us lazy. Again, we’re thinking we’re doing something productive when really it’s not as productive as other methods of following up.

 

Will Barron:

That makes total sense.

 

Ruth’s Advise to Her Younger Self on How to Get Better at Selling · [30:08]

 

Will Barron:

With that Ruth, I’ve got one final question that I ask everyone that comes on the show, so I’m going to throw this at you now. That is, if you could go back in time and speak to your younger self, what be the one piece of advice you’d give her to help become better at selling?

 

Ruth van Vierzen:

I would… Oh, that’s a good question. I would say to have gotten better at follow up earlier on. When I think back over the connections that I made and that I didn’t nurture… But earlier in my career, I wish I had known then what I know now and had worked harder to nurture those into sales.

 

Will Barron:

This probably should have been how I, in hindsight, me looking back into my younger self 30 minutes ago, this is how I probably should have started the show.

 

How Salespeople Can Know Whether They’re Great at Follow Up · [31:01]

 

Will Barron:

With that, how do you know whether you’re great at follow up, or whether you suck at it? Is there a number that we should be aiming towards from initial conversations to business closed? That’s a difficult one. How do we know whether we are good or bad at this? Just to give us a base mark, a kind of ballpark figure of whether we should be spending more time doing it or if we’re doing okay right now.

 

Ruth van Vierzen:

That’s a good question. I would say it’s partly industry specific. If you’re working with a sales team, the company may actually give you quotas and stats that you’re supposed to be achieving. I would say like one in 10, but some people might say, well, no for our industry should be one in five. I think it’s really going to be industry specific with that.

 

Will Barron:

Fair enough.

 

Will Barron:

With that Ruth… I’m just going to call out, anyone watching on video, the screens have just went off and behind me cause I’ve recorded six hours of podcast today. I think they turn off after seven hours. It’s a reminder to me that I’m working too hard.

 

Parting Thoughts · [32:00]

 

Will Barron:

Ignoring that for a second Ruth, I appreciate your time and appreciate indites on this. I think follow up is something that we should all be focusing on more. It’s something that we can, even if we’ve got it down, we can essentially, and certainly refine the process for using data and other metrics and other bits of software as well, which we didn’t get the time to touch on.

 

Will Barron:

For anyone who wants to know more about follow up and you, where can we find out more about you? I guess you’ve got a course for us as well, that you’ve mentioned. I guess it’s going to pull all this together and be a really good resource for anyone who’s been interested in this episode.

 

Ruth van Vierzen:

Yeah, I do have that free course. It’s The Effective Follow Up System. It’s on my course website. I don’t know if you want me to give you the link.

 

Will Barron:

Yeah, yeah. Go ahead with the link.

 

Ruth van Vierzen:

It’s courses.revsquared.ca. My website is revsquared.ca and they can also access my courses from that site as well.

 

Will Barron:

Perfect.

 

Will Barron:

Well, for everyone, who’s scribbling this down on the back of the hand as the drive and at the moment that’s listening to the show, I’ll link to that in the show notes to this episode over at salesmanpodcast.com.

 

Will Barron:

With that Ruth, I want to thank you for your time, your energy I want to thank you for joining us on the show.

 

Ruth van Vierzen:

Thanks so much for having me have a great day.

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