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Why donít salespeople follow-up?

In your professional opinion what would be the top three to five reasons why salespeople fail to follow-up with prospective customers? - by Community Mailbox
The three from my 27 year experience in professional selling is:

1. Fear
2. Laziness/procrastination
3. Discipline and follow through

Drew Stevens PhD - by Drew Stevens
Some people are wired for systems and others are not. Follow through requires systems of some sort. The best friend of a good salesperson who struggles with follow through is a professional organizer who will help them customize a system that totally works for them. After that. . . there are no excuses. If they don't follow through it is pure self-sabatoge. - by Connie Kadansky
In your professional opinion what would be the top three to five reasons why salespeople fail to follow-up with prospective customers?
I actually have an ongoing online survey about this; 147 responses so far. This is the question and the breakdown:

Follow up is a necessary part of sales. How do you follow -up?

Persistently with a series of planned activities. 17.9%
I would do it but I am too busy with other things. 14.9%
It's a hit and miss process. 32.8%
I feel like am bothering people so I tend not to do it. 34.3%

As Drew stated three reasons, you can see this bears out with FEAR or I believe it's more of a WORTHINESS issue being the number one reason, LACK OF A SYSTEM or DISCIPLINE number two and PROCRASTINATION number three. - by patweber
1. They don't know what to say that will be effective and fear rejection. All other reasons stem from this core reason. - by Jerry Bresser
The question is interesting, but the replies have been incomplete, IMHO. The reasons previously stated are indeed accurate, but no one provided a simple, easy solution to the situation.

The core reason why salespeople don't follow up is because they don't plan the follow up. And that plan starts during the initial interaction with the prospect. If the purchase decision can't be made during the initial interaction, the follow up should be scheduled then and there.

Planning the follow up means you first have a reason to follow up, a reason to contact the prospect. If there is an unresolved issue that is blocking the purchase decision, that is a reason to follow up at a later date. Both the salesperson and prospect should know that the salesperson will contacting the prospect. And both should know why. And that should be clear before the initial interaction is ended. A pro salesperson will have several pre-planned reasons to follow up if one doesn't present itself during the interaction. The point is, if there is a need to follow up, the salesperson should be able to provide a reason for doing so during the initial interaction, so both parties are expecting the future contact.

Secondly, the follow up should be scheduled during the initial meeting. This helps to ensure that the prospect will be expecting the call or visit and also have time scheduled to meet with the salesperson. There should seldom, if ever, be a surprise visit from the salesperson, especially a follow up.

If the salesperson arranges the reason for the follow up as well scheduling for it during the initial interaction, many of the emotional barriers will be removed or greatly reduced. And the fact that the follow up is scheduled will put greater pressure on the salesperson to actually do his job and follow up.

Finally, since the reason for the follow up has been clearly stated in the initial meeting, the salesperson has a starting point for the follow up interaction. He or she has a conversation topic to get the process going.

Hope this helps.

The Sales Artist - by The Sales Artist
As a rookie, I am glad you brought up this topic. I am trying to develop good f/u habits proactively.

I am very aware that I am taking up this prospect's valuable time. Sometimes I feel like I am bothering them too much. I always ask for permission to c/b and keep everything brief, polite and to the point. But after two or three calls, it's definitely getting harder to be politely persistant, even when I keep everything light and humorous. I am hoping with more experience and confidence, this fear of bothering them too much will dissipate. I also remember that I am trying to help them in one way or another. Good prospects recognize that and are patient.

I like the sales artist reply and will try to keep these things in mind. Any other replies and advice to this topic are welcome. - by basil7070
In your professional opinion what would be the top three to five reasons why salespeople fail to follow-up with prospective customers?
1) They don't know how.
2) They have failed to allot the time.
3) They have not set the stage for a meaningful follow-up during the initial contact. - by Ace Coldiron
1. They don't know what to say that will be effective and fear rejection. All other reasons stem from this core reason.
I view that as two reasons. I don't believe that all other reasons stem from fear of rejection, but not knowing what to say, which often results from not understanding the process, is certainly a prime reason. - by Ace Coldiron
Salespeople who donít follow up lack the discipline to follow up. That discipline can come from one or all of these reasons:
They are not one of the people who has an inner voice of responsibility that makes follow-up a part of his or her personal and business make-up ó these are the people you know you can always count on.
They donít work in an environment that supports and role models follow-up. I once had a manager who told us plain and simple that phone calls had to be returned within one day or less and judged our professionalism by our follow-up practices.
The lack of a system (not scraps of paper) to trigger follow-up. Today technology has made follow-up and tracking so much easier but a simple manual month-at-a-glance and to-do list also works.

Flawless follow-up with customers and colleagues is indeed an indication of professionalism and it often means the difference between success and failing.

The issue of following up on leads by salespeople is a bit different. The factors above are a part of it but many salespeople say the leads they get are poor quality and not worth their time. Sure itís better to get pre-qualified leads but my experience is that a lead is worth a phone call and the persistence it takes to check it out. - by Linda Richardson
The core reason why salespeople don't follow up is because they don't plan the follow up. And that plan starts during the initial interaction with the prospect. If the purchase decision can't be made during the initial interaction, the follow up should be scheduled then and there.

Planning the follow up means you first have a reason to follow up, a reason to contact the prospect. If there is an unresolved issue that is blocking the purchase decision, that is a reason to follow up at a later date. Both the salesperson and prospect should know that the salesperson will contacting the prospect. And both should know why. And that should be clear before the initial interaction is ended. A pro salesperson will have several pre-planned reasons to follow up if one doesn't present itself during the interaction. The point is, if there is a need to follow up, the salesperson should be able to provide a reason for doing so during the initial interaction, so both parties are expecting the future contact.

Secondly, the follow up should be scheduled during the initial meeting. This helps to ensure that the prospect will be expecting the call or visit and also have time scheduled to meet with the salesperson. There should seldom, if ever, be a surprise visit from the salesperson, especially a follow up.

If the salesperson arranges the reason for the follow up as well scheduling for it during the initial interaction, many of the emotional barriers will be removed or greatly reduced. And the fact that the follow up is scheduled will put greater pressure on the salesperson to actually do his job and follow up.

Finally, since the reason for the follow up has been clearly stated in the initial meeting, the salesperson has a starting point for the follow up interaction. He or she has a conversation topic to get the process going.

The Sales Artist
BINGO! You hit the nail on the head with this post.

PURPOSEFUL followup is the ONLY EFFECTIVE followup. You "set the stage" for your follow up during the initial interview. Followup is not an after-thought, but an integrated part of your selling process. GREAT POST, Sales Artist! - by Rainmaker
Hi there, I just have 1 question need to clarify, which is how often that we need to follow up with prospect or customers? Everyday? once per week? If we follow up very often, then it might cause the prospect or customers feel that we are every pushy and eventually make them feel fed up. Besides, when follow up is very difficult to find something to update because almost the things is pending from customers side. So when we follow up more often, seem like we trying to push the customers to make decision more faster and too pushy might break the relationship that build early.
So from your expert point of view, how frequent that we need to follow up is appropriate. Of course we can get permission from customers about when we will follow up with them. But in actual customers might forget also. - by alexyeap
Hi there, I just have 1 question need to clarify, which is how often that we need to follow up with prospect or customers? Everyday? once per week? If we follow up very often, then it might cause the prospect or customers feel that we are every pushy and eventually make them feel fed up. Besides, when follow up is very difficult to find something to update because almost the things is pending from customers side. So when we follow up more often, seem like we trying to push the customers to make decision more faster and too pushy might break the relationship that build early.
So from your expert point of view, how frequent that we need to follow up is appropriate. Of course we can get permission from customers about when we will follow up with them. But in actual customers might forget also.
A follow up is done after the sale. If you do it right it is hard to be seen as pushy. For my follow ups I usually call the night of the sale to thank them for their business, the next day to ensure they have no questions, 3 weeks to make sure they are enjoying thier product and see if they have anyone referrals, and then after that about every 3 months, just to B.S. with them and see how the family is doing. After the sale, a good sales consultant is seen as a friend and not some sales guy. I also do send them cards on thier birthdays, anniversarys, and any major holidays. - by jrboyd
Hi there, I just have 1 question need to clarify, which is how often that we need to follow up with prospect or customers? Everyday? once per week? If we follow up very often, then it might cause the prospect or customers feel that we are every pushy and eventually make them feel fed up. Besides, when follow up is very difficult to find something to update because almost the things is pending from customers side. So when we follow up more often, seem like we trying to push the customers to make decision more faster and too pushy might break the relationship that build early.
So from your expert point of view, how frequent that we need to follow up is appropriate. Of course we can get permission from customers about when we will follow up with them. But in actual customers might forget also.
First, consider your sales cycle. My B2B cycle is longer than B2C. This will help you plan when to follow-up and for how many times.

It's always a deepening of the relationship when you ask permission to follow-up with prospects - just make sure you keep you end of the follow-up.

Second, once you have your sales cycle determined, and the number of times to follow-up, plan some valid personal and business reasons to do this! A follow-up that focuses on, "Are you ready yet?" doesn't count as a follow-up if that is all you are going to say.

If you focus your sales presentation on answering the questions of the prospects and not on your own spiel, then this will give you many ways to follow-up. By not disclosing all that you offer unless your customer either wants to know or it's appropriate to discuss, you can always follow-up to discuss changes, add-ons, new features. And mostly remember the personal side: your prospects are people! They have birthdays, family, problems, they travel, take vacation. In my 30 years of sales both my prospects and customers all appreciate my remembering of these kind of details.

You and your business can shine in 2009 with a purposeful system to follow-up. - by patweber
1) They don't know how.
2) They have failed to allot the time.
3) They have not set the stage for a meaningful follow-up during the initial contact.
I totally agree with Ace and his 3 points and would add 2 others

4) They believe its a waste of time.
5) They fear being held accountable for the result. - by GlennB
Everyone put a lot of time and thought into their posts.I do think it is relatively simple. They do not want to follow up.
Everything else is just an excuse.Those that follow up want to and they make the effort and time to follow up the correct way.
I do not know how to follow up? Learn What is stopping them from learning? Lack of motivation
Fear rejection, the sales person has already been there and did not receive the yes , already a rejection what is there to fear?
Time. it is called time mangement
Everything is an excuse,a better questions why do company's allow excuses for failure? - by rich34232
I think that many salespeople subconsciously rate their chances of success with a nEW prospect higher than their chances with someone who has already had the chance to say yes...but opted not to. - by helisell
I do think it is relatively simple. They do not want to follow up.
Rich I like this answer because I believe that WANT is a primary driver in all human behavior. - by Seth
Rich I like this answer because I believe that WANT is a primary driver in all human behavior.
WANT is a "determinant" of human behavour. Many wants are not acted upon, and suppressed, but they remain a determinant, and a force in shaping our lives. - by Ace Coldiron
I think that many salespeople subconsciously rate their chances of success with a nEW prospect higher than their chances with someone who has already had the chance to say yes...but opted not to.
Good point. I've experienced that myself. - by Seth
Everyone here has made excellent points and I can't much add to what's been said. I will say that I am shocked when I find that sales people don't follow up. I deal with a distribution channel and I sell to salespeople... well i tell them how to sell our product. I follow up later to see how they did and I often find that they haven't followed up and don't even plan to!!

Ok I lied... I do have one other theory as to why they don't follow up. Follow ups are part of the process and anyone who doesn't do that I would chalk it up to poor sales training.

Fear, lack of organization, lack of discipline, etc. never stopped anyone before. Many sales people still attempt sales when they are scared lack organization or discipline. That they don't even attempt follow ups just shows poor training, IMO. - by Andrea
Everyone here has made excellent points and I can't much add to what's been said. I will say that I am shocked when I find that sales people don't follow up. I deal with a distribution channel and I sell to salespeople... well i tell them how to sell our product. I follow up later to see how they did and I often find that they haven't followed up and don't even plan to!!

Ok I lied... I do have one other theory as to why they don't follow up. Follow ups are part of the process and anyone who doesn't do that I would chalk it up to poor sales training.

Fear, lack of organization, lack of discipline, etc. never stopped anyone before. Many sales people still attempt sales when they are scared lack organization or discipline. That they don't even attempt follow ups just shows poor training, IMO.
Follow-ups are important for ALL phases of business communication. When a sale goes badly and things fall apart, if you are going to bail, you owe it to your client and, if you're smart, yourself to "close" the case/sale/opportunity to leave the door open.

Here are two situations of which my son found himself. The first was a plumber, we made the contact, made the appointment. 1st 3 appointments were missed by the plumber. I told my son to close it out... meaning "Mr JoePlumber, we've come to agreement that our worksite program would probably benefit your company, it's just we're having difficulty with timing. Can we agree to postpone this for 6 months or so and try again, or is there some time sooner that you feel that we can be assured. In the mean time, what is your address? (we sent him cookies)

The second situation we had was a meeting with employees. This didn't close and my son didn't follow up with her to write this on a direct basis (slightly more expensive) for the two employees who wanted coverage or to "close" the case for a later shot at it.

When I called her about 6 weeks later, she was very disappointed that he did not follow up with her and just dropped it on the spot. Bad bad bad.

Follow up is improtant, because times change, circumstances change, and you owe it to your client to be professional.

In my opinion, owned by me and no one else, together with myself and I, jointly and severally.

Aloha... shds; ;bg - by rattus58
Most salespeople don't follow-up becuase they have never been shown a way to do it effectively; to make it a warm process that produces. Think about it - most Sales Managers, if they were pros at follow-up would have been taking a pay-cut to step into management. Becomming a referral machine is easy, once you understand the basics and take action; and to me, is the most rewarding part of a successful sales career. - by FollowUpMaster
I agree laziness. Then think the next brand new lead will say "Sure, I will buy right now here is my credit card" .. ; ) - by OneLead Guy
The whys behind the whys are worth contemplating if only to gain a little insight that might help from time to time - the questions:

1. who don't they know how?
2. why haven't they alloted the time?
3. why haven't they set the stage for a meaningful follow-up during the initial contact?

MitchM - by MitchM
Top reason has to be fear of failure. The sales person has a good sales call, they leave on a high... and then are (maybe subconsciously) afraid to follow-up for fear of rejection.
Secondly I would say that sales people don't follow-up because they don't do it immediately and then being in the business they are in... they get swept up with the next sales call, the next customer problem and by the time they get round to following-up it is embarrassingly late to do so!
--
Cheers
Mark - by markg
In your professional opinion what would be the top three to five reasons why salespeople fail to follow-up with prospective customers?
Thanks for starting such a interesting topic.
This is one of the things we discuss the most at my company.

The top 4 reasons that they don't in our industry are:

1. New business is faster money.
2. Low quality products make for angry customers.
3. Fear of speaking to a customer after a really tough close.
4. No training in follow up and no understanding of the concept.

//Daniel - by LookingDaniel
I've read this thread with much interest. I've read each response. The basic theme seems to be a lack of something. ( Apply your own definition )

However, I believe the #1 reason salespeople don't follow-up is they do not want future smaller commissions. They are that selfish. That is the bigger picture.

They know they could easily make a quick sale to a previous customer, but why put so much effort into a smaller payoff?

Where's the challenge in that? - by ThePromotionalGuy
1. They don't know what to say that will be effective and fear rejection. All other reasons stem from this core reason.
Hi Jerry
yep i think you're right on target. Fear is a overall reason but when you break it down it stems from not knowing how to make an effective follow up call

Thanks and all the best
Pinny - by pinnyz
NOT KNOWING WHY and also WHAT and HOW to express is the most likely reason. Secondly (justifying self for not acting) is whether the follow up is welcomed or is it annoying/irritating to the recipient.
Thirdly, past experience reflected that act as not appreciated or reflecting returns, so why pursuit further. Lastly, it is extra work and effort with no calculated returns. - by Thiruselvam K
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