There’s no doubt about it. When it comes to sales, the fortune is in the follow-up.

We can invite heaps of people to our hotel or venue for site inspections or famils. We can farm out proposals left, right and centre. But when it comes to closing the sale and confirming the business, follow-up is often the key.

But often follow-up calls can be seen as too aggressive or spammy. If it’s just phone call after phone call asking if a decision has been made, it can become annoying and off-putting for the client.

So when it comes to successful follow up, these are the three key ingredients:

1. Be Customer Focused

Tailor your follow-up strategy to suit what you know about the particular client. Earlier in the sales process, ask when will be a good time for follow-up, or when they expect to have a decision. Understand their timeframe and clarify the next steps.

And importantly, ask their preferred method of communications. Some people hate spending time on phone calls and would rather receive emails that they can deal with in their own time. Others are tired of being bombarded by emails and would prefer a personal conversation. Ask (and then respect) their preferred way of being contacted.

2. Be Helpful and Relevant

Whenever you follow-up with a client, aim to share some valuable, helpful information or something that is relevant to them personally.

You can save their energy (and refresh their memory) by summarising your last conversation and adding in some extra suggestions or helpful recommendations.

Try sharing a link to an article that follows-on from something you discussed, or a challenge they are having. Not only is this being helpful, it shows that you listened to them and were interested in what they have to say.

Call or email with an invitation to an event they might be interested in.

Gifts are often appreciated, and will stand out from the crowd if they are related to something you discussed.

And when following up to say ‘thank you’, a handwritten note or card stands out from the sea of emails and is more personal.

3. Do As You Said You Would Do

Provide any follow-up information by the deadline you set. Being late will not inspire confidence in someone who is looking to buy from you. Keep detailed notes of your meetings and calls (ideally notes in your CRM) and follow up on everything that was discussed. Preempt your client’s questions so they don’t have to follow-up with you.

If you follow-up in a helpful way – respecting their time and showing that you listened and understood their needs – you will have a much greater chance of closing the sale.

And if by chance your product isn’t the right one for them right now, your professionalism and customer service will have built a relationship that may lead to business in the future.

The Follow up in the Sales Process is Key