Earlier this week I highlighted some good & bad lead follow-up experiences I had first-hand last week. I listed a couple implications, but wanted to go deeper and get more specific on a few rules I believe constitute best practices for sales lead follow-up.

1. Document the best practice sequence (no matter how you define that)
Ask 10 inside sales managers and they’ll give you 10 different lead follow-up sequences – # of touches, mix between email and phone, voicemail or no voicemail, etc. No matter how you define it, make sure you have a consistent best practice sequence that’s trained and reinforced throughout the organization.

2. Draft email templates & VM scripts
Give you smart, trained reps flexibility to customize their prospect messages, but give them a baseline template for each email as well as explicit script for voicemails. Ideally these include your best practices around messaging, format, offer, etc.

3. Diversify channels beyond email & phone
At minimum, your lead follow-up should include both email and phone/voicemail. Leaving voicemails has been proven to increase familiarity and awareness, which increases response rates of future outreach. But diversifying channels further will accelerate the path towards response. Think social, discussion boards, Twitter “favorites”, LinkedIn Groups, their blog comments, anywhere you can generate a value-added impression with them that increases your engagement rate.

4. Automate & queue up the preferred outreach sequence as much as possible
Save those templates in Salesforce.com, or better yet queue them up as a Program in ToutApp. The advantage of the latter is real-time notification of opens and clicks, as well as rolled-up reporting on response rates, sales rep usage, etc. This also helps save your reps time and increases their productivity.

5. Minimize recording and admin requirements for your reps
Speaking of productivity, make sure that increase in rigor and precision for the follow-up process doesn’t come with an increase in administrative work for your reps. The more time they spend recording each and every voicemail, the less time they’re actively selling.

6. Create a post-disposition nurture and trigger event program
Once your reps get through the full follow-up process without successfully reaching or qualifying the prospect (which will happen the majority of the time), develop a process that’s more than just marking the lead as “nurture” and sending it back to marketing. Ask the rep to send a LinkedIn connection request, follow them on Twitter and watch their activity via a column in Hootsuite, as well as any other tactics that help your reps notice and respond to daily trigger events and buying signals your prospects exhibit down the road – tomorrow, next week, next month or later in the year.

Curious to hear your lead follow-up best practices as well, especially those that have been implemented and optimized across deployed inside or field sales teams.

  • Great stuff. I really like the suggestion of diversifying beyond email and phone. I would also add, track/measure contact, rates, etc. It is a great way to hold inside sales team accountable. That way when someone blames lead quality (which is guaranteed at some point) you can compare their metrics with others on the team working the same lead sources.

  • Really love the way you have programmed the sales process and not left it passive.

  • Great insights! I’ve used ToutApp but also like Cirrus Insights and their seamless integration with Salesforce and Google Apps. I’ve also been checking out the new SalesLoft Cadence tool and seeing how it could be helpful in sales lead follow ups.

  • Thanks for the article! We just do calls and emails. We also send text messages which have helped.