You've got your foot in the door and your prospect is expressing interest in your product. A salesperson's follow-up is absolutely critical to get right because this prospect is only the tip of the iceberg for your sale. They're like a gate; getting them to open up gives you access to the rest of the decision makers that will make or break your sale.
Jill Konrath recently shared a conversation she had with a young entrepreneur as they discussed following up with prospects:
"'Let's say you were the decision maker. You'd just met with a savvy business person who truly understood your situation. You were impressed—and even relieved—because a solid resource had appeared.
Here's my big question, Chris. If you, as an executive, met this savvy person, what would you expect him or her to do next?'
[The entrepeneur replied:]
'I'd follow up—but I don't want to be pushy. It might turn her off.'"
Assuming the role of a leader
Being "pushy": this concern plagues many sales professionals. We're conditioned to be proactive, but not too aggressive. It's human to seek approval, and equally as human to fear rejection. However, holding back for fear of appearing too eager is hurting your follow-up and damaging your prospect's opinion of you.
Truth be told, no matter how long you've been in sales, a brand new sales rep and a VP of sales have the same responsibility: your job is to be a leader.
Every salesperson is a leader because their duty is to lead their prospects step by step and help them solve their organization’s problems. You're their guide through the buyer's journey. If you shrink, or passively wait for them to come begging for your solution, you've already lost your "in" with an organization and there goes your chance at persuading the rest of the decision makers.
Leaders exude confidence
Instead, you first need to remember why you're selling to them in the first place: your solution can solve their problems! You know this is true, they hope it's true; that commonality is the foundation for your relationship. Why be so concerned with your own insecurity about being "pushy" when your product literally exists to benefit them? You have the potential to make their job easier; quit worrying that you're a burden.
Leaders are proactive
What your prospects need/expect during follow-up is your help. They're busy and risk averse, and the last thing they want is a wimpy salesperson emailing just to "check in" on how their decision is going. Instead, prove you can bear some of their burdens and help them through the next actionable steps to solve their problem. Show that you're available as a resource, and they'll trust you and your product's value.
Leaders empower their champion
Selling to one prospect is not enough; nowadays most complex B2B sales involve an average of 5.4 stakeholders who, somehow, all need to agree on a purchase decision. The process of following-up is where you empower your prospect to become your champion and take your solution to the rest of their colleagues. By this point, you've established trust and rapport and should be able to transfer your confidence, enthusiasm, and fearlessness to your champion. They're your all-access pass to reach the rest of the buying panel. Now make sure they're well-equipped with the right tools to successfully take your product to the rest of the decision makers.