So often we either take leads and it immediately converts or we don’t really have a process by which we nurture them both in the short term and in the long term and they’re lost to us. It takes a lot of hard work to get leads in the first place, so the last thing you want is to allow them to be lost to you before they convert just because you lack a lead follow up system.
In this post, we’re going to be talking about short term and long term follow up programs along with what you should have in place to maximize the conversion of those leads over time.
Avoiding the Biggest Mistake
It happens to everyone: we get new leads and the sales and marketing teams are super excited. A new prospect! A fresh contact! A brand new way to push our company forward!
We make that initial contact, and then sit back and let the lead fall on the floor or by the wayside. It’s easy to make that initial contact as the excitement is still fresh.
But when you don’t have a good system for following up and making sure that you’re working on that prospect until it comes to some final conclusion, you’re going to lose them. Especially since that initial excitement will wear off and you won’t have that same fresh drive later on unless you can fall back on a follow-up system to push you back towards that lead.
Building a short term and long term follow up program will help you avoid this mistake of letting leads fall away after you get them.
So, let’s going through what each of these systems will look like. We’re going to go over a general and vague script that will help you build out a plan. However, it should be noted that these systems will vary greatly depending on your specific business/industry.
For example, what we go over here may be too aggressive for your approach. Or, it could not be aggressive enough. But this should give you a good general flow that you should look for when planning your follow up system. This is really just the framework you need to get started.
Day 0: The Initial Follow Up Includes Multiple Touchpoints
First thing’s first: email isn’t the only way to communicate with leads. You actually want to use as many touchpoints as possible. This ensures that you’re not alienating a lead or prospect just because you’re not following up in their preferred method of communication.
This includes long term follow-ups as well. With long term follow-ups, there is a tendency to rely solely on email and not think about all of the different ways that we can reach out to these leads and create more opportunity for them to convert.
So, let’s start at the beginning. It’s day 0. You’ve just gotten a lead’s contact information from a phone call, a referral, an inbound lead, a bought lead, and even aged leads potentially. It’s time to make that first contact.
The best that you can, you want to try to think about the mindset of this person/lead. How did you get their information? Where is this lead coming from? Are they expecting you to contact them? What do they want from a business like yours? What are their wants and needs? What did they want/need to happen when they reached out to you?
This is where you begin the short term follow up. It’s a follow up because you’ve gotten this lead in another way (web form, phone call, etc), and you’re following up with them by contacting them. You want to respond to them as immediately as possible in the same channel that you got the lead from.
If you get a lead from a direct message on Instagram, your immediate follow-up needs to be on Instagram direct message, too. If you get it through an email, respond via email. If you get a phone number through a web form, respond via the phone as well. And the list goes on.
That initial follow up response needs to happen as soon as possible after you get the lead. You can even consider automating this if necessary and applicable (auto-email responders, AI responses, chatbots, etc, are all great immediate follow-up response options if you’re unable to do it yourself).
Days 2-3: Reach Out and Migrate
Once you’ve made that initial contact through the same channel where the lead originated, you can migrate it to something more efficient. For example, if they contacted you on Instagram, it isn’t efficient or convenient for either of you to keep talking through DMs. It’s time to migrate to talking via email or potentially on the phone.
After this first contact and hopeful migration to an easier communication channel, if you haven’t made an actual meeting appointment or actually had a true conversation, reach out again. This step could vary based on how your leads flow, but generally, you should reach out via email after a few days to start the lead nurturing process.
So, by day three after initial contact/after initially getting the lead, you should be starting to funnel these leads into an email automation process and then into your CRM because you want to be able to email them and get them on the phone.
Phone calls nowadays are often neglected, especially with lead follow-ups. However, phone calls are one of the most powerful ways to nurture and follow up on leads because not all sales teams or marketers actually call anymore. You’ll stick out in there mind when you reach out via phone.
Same goes for direct mail if you’re fortunate enough to get an address. Send them a card, a thank you note, a personal note because, as with the phone, no one ever does that. This will help you stand out and differentiate you from competitors.
Days 7: Go with the Flow and Be Consistent
So as you’re going through this flow during days two and three, put them in your call list and devote some time during each day to go through and call the folks on your list.
By day seven, you’re probably beginning to lose them, especially if you haven’t followed up.
There are some distance and disconnect forming. They’ve given their info a week ago and they likely forgot or moved on to other things. They also could potentially have found another solution or business to work with. Or perhaps they got distracted with some other priority and your product/service isn’t a priority anymore.
That’s why day seven is crucial. By day seven, because of this distance, you want to change the way that you communicate with them.
Start to include some content and some value to your product/service instead of simply saying “hi” or a quick introduction. You want to either talk about some of the things that your company is doing, the way that you’re serving clients, projects you’re working on, etc.
This is so they get an understanding of where you could add some value for them. This is going to remind them why they inquired with you in the first place and cement your value in their minds. This lessens any distance time has brought in and reminds them of why they need you.
Obviously, this is going to depend on you and your industry. If you’re a lawyer, for example, you might speak with them about clients you’ve had in similar situations. Or perhaps you’d mention your win-rates. For a mortgage company, you might discuss the current state of the market or how your process works.
Day seven is all about giving these leads an understanding of the value of your content, product, or service. You’re basically saying, “Hey, here’s something that might help you or here’s something I saw that you might be interested in,” or, “Here’s an example of how we’ve done it for another client.”
Day 14: Short and Sweet
Another week has gone by and maybe your instinct is to keep up with the value and content. But this can seem pushy and many are turned off by salespeople who won’t stop pushing their product or service.
That’s why on day 14 we recommend a short and sweet approach. You’ve already been supplying them with information and content for about a week or at least a few days out of the week.
So on day 14, simply send a super, super, super, (yes, three supers) short email that just says:
“Hey, I just wanted to make sure that we didn’t miss each other. Are you still interested in setting up a time to talk?” or, “Hey, just checking in. Are you still interested in talking?”
Make it super simple and personal to the client. This serves to break up the sales-y flow that is easy to fall into. It maintains the connection without being overly pushy.
Day 21: Transition to Long Term Nurturing if Necessary
As you go into week number three, you should switch back to the content/value method from day seven. By week three, the distance is larger and you want to reinforce your value.
You also want to frame them as more of a long term nurture prospect. You want to start to transition them into my lead nurturing process.
At this point, you’ve tried to connect with them many times with emails, phone calls, and more. You’ve given them some good and valuable information that’s relevant to your industry and to them specifically.
If they haven’t converted or given you much after this, but haven’t given you an outright “no” yet, they might just need more time to consider or perhaps they don’t need you now but might need you in the future.
So, at this point, you should transition them into your long term strategy. Add them to your lead database to stock yourself up with leads for the future. This will help you stay in contact with them.
After this, you need to adjust your actions based on theirs. So, If at any point you got a positive acknowledgment from them and they want to set up a meeting or a call, bring them back into your short term follow up system from above and move them through your sales process.
If at any point if they go to sleep on you or become non-responsive, you can then push them back into that long term nurturing program.
Into the Long Term
Begin your long term lead follow up system by using as many channels as you can with your digital marketing strategy. At this point, the lead is essentially like a brand new sort of lead (since nothing has pushed them along your funnel) or they’ve just reverted back to being a part of your audience.
Vary Your Channels and Content
Using multiple channels to interact will help you maintain that audience and keep them around for you to then treat as a “short term” lead in the future.
Using these channels, keep your focus on content. Create content that you know will be valuable to these long term leads. Think about problems they’re trying to solve, challenges that they have, things they desire, etc.
Also, make sure the content is diverse. Remember what we said about being pushy? You don’t want your content to be pushy either.
For example, let’s say you’re a digital marketer and every single piece of content you make is about website design. This is obviously pushing your product and eventually won’t add value to an audience of leads because they’ve already understood that value five blog articles ago.
Vary your content. In the digital marketing example, you could discuss SEO, challenges customers face with marketing, how to hire a marketer that works for you, how AI affects marketing, etc. Imagine yourself as providing value to them through your presence in their lives not simply with your product/service you’re trying to sell.
Social Media and Email
Don’t limit this value to your blog, website, and email, either. Try to encourage these long term leads to get into your social media audience as well. Encourage them to like and follow you on your various social media channels.
So if they’re on your email newsletter, for example, encourage readers to follow you on YouTube as well. This will give you another point of access to the lead and help to ensure that you’re a part of their day-to-day workflow, which will encourage contact and conversion later on.
In terms of email, try for one email per week (but, again, this can vary). Email is one of the most efficient channels to keep in contact with long term leads since it’s easy to automate and it’s something that people are pretty comfortable with either reading, storing, or looking at later.
You can also occasionally give these long term leads a call on the phone. Limit these calls to once per month at most, even once every couple of months would be fine. This can help reduce “pushiness” while keeping you in the front of their mind.
Reach out and leave a voicemail so that they hear your voice, they know you’re real, and they know that you’re truly interested about wanting to connect with them.
Last, but not least, is the inner glue that holds the long term process together: the CRM database. This ensures that leads will be properly sorted and placed into your long term follow up workflow and makes sure no one falls through the cracks.
Hopefully, this has been nice little introductory framework on how you can build a very basic short term and long term follow up system.
Don’t just put them on your email list, call it a day, and expect email to do all of the work. You need to be consistent; try to again be communicating and in their lives through as many touchpoints as possible.
If you have any questions, definitely leave a comment down below. Think we missed something important? Don’t hesitate to reach out!