Growth Tips: Follow up that works

Focus on minimum outcomes and specific commitments.

August 7, 2013   by ANDREW SHEDDEN

Salespeople who are poor at follow up cost their employers money, but they aren’t helping their own paycheques either.

How can salespeople best follow up with prospects without appearing to be desperate?

It’s actually a pretty simple two-step process. First, plan next steps in advance. Far too many of salespeople go into calls without any idea of what constitutes a successful outcome. In an ideal world, most would say the perfect outcome would be an order with a deposit cheque. Fine in theory, but that’s usually the end result of a (very) successful selling process. It’s more likely others in the prospect company will need to discuss things, after which the salesperson may get an invitation to return for another sales meeting.

Here’s what your salespeople need to do:

• Have a minimum acceptable and ideal outcome in mind before going on a call. For example, the prospect agrees to schedule a subsequent meeting with the engineering department. Alternately, the prospect schedules a product demonstration within 14 days of the meeting date. Either way, the salesperson knows the selling process is advancing.

• Get firm commitments for specific next steps. If, for example, the prospect agrees that the next step is to set up a meeting with the engineering department, request a specific date. Accepting “Get back to me in a month or so” will lead to fruitless chasing.

Salespeople who go into sales calls with minimum outcomes in mind and gain specific commitments will soon find follow up is a breeze, and lucrative.

Andrew Shedden is an industrial marketing consultant who helps manufacturing and industrial (B2B) CEOs easily obtain rapid, sustainable, profitable, and guaranteed growth. For free business growth resources visit

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