Integrating Social Business into the Sales Funnel Part 3: Customer Follow Up

Integrating Social Business into the Sales Funnel is a 3 part series focused on strategies that utilize social media to refine the sale process to better meet the growing needs of a highly connected customer base.

When is it time to stop following up with a customer?
When should a sales person back off and say good riddance to a prospect?

Never! Never stop following up.

The old adage of follow up stops when the customer buys or dies may sound harsh, but it’s never been more appropriate. A good sales team never loses contact with a prospect, even long after the sale has or hasn’t been made. Business is too competitive and customer relationships should be sustained for as long as possible. It’s not always easy to keep a dialogue going, but fortunately social media has made it a lot easier. Businesses that stay in touch are simply more likely to retain lifelong customers.

Until recently staying connected with a customer could only happen in a couple of different ways: via email, print materials, in person visits, and phone calls. All of these can and still work to some extent, but each have their limitations. Emails can come across as spam if not sent with poise and appropriate timing. Printed materials can soon become nothing more than junk mail. In person visits can take considerable time, distance, and planning. Phone calls can quickly make a prospect sour to the message without a significant reason behind the call.

Contacting a prospect using social networking sites is often considered less intrusive than the aforementioned methods. If it’s a genuine attempt to reach out, most of the time it will be welcomed. Sending a message on LinkedIn to congratulate a potential customer about a new position is a genuine form of contact. Retweeting a potential client on Twitter or sending an occasional @reply shows that you’re listening. Occasionally commenting on a company Facebook page or blog proves that your sales staff cares about more than just the sale. It demonstrates that they actually care about the interests of the potential customer.

Looking past the sale

After a sale is confirmed and transactions have taken place, an amateur sales person or average business will pat themselves on the back, say job well done, and move on to the next prospect. True professionals try and keep the relationship going. They ask for referrals, touch base, and always maintain a customer service frame of mind. By embracing social media best practices, a business never really leaves a customer. They’re always present and always communicating. Introduce potential customers to satisfied customers via social networking sites. Lean on established customer relationships to strengthen new ones.

The benefits of the marriage between social and sales are vast. By taking a thorough approach to making every step of the sales process more social, you’re actively investing in improvements in communication, deeper customer relations, and an eventual shift in the bottom line. If those reason alone aren’t enough to motivate a sales or management team, consider it time to make a change in staff. Social and sales must work together.

Part 1: Lead Development
Part 2: Delivering Value

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