How to Follow Up with Your First Outbound Lead

Before I was a CEO, there wasn’t much sophistication in my early sales process. It was mostly forced cold calling, ham-fisted product demos, and a nag-until-they-say-yes closing strategy.  

This required a lot of “follow up” on my part. 

Here was my amateur B2B sales prospecting strategy:

    • Initial contact (often freezing cold)
    • Just emailing to follow up on our call…
    • Checking in to follow up to find out if there are any updates…
    • Following up to see if you talked to your colleague…
    • Hey X, it’s Eric checking in to see if you saw my last email…

You get the idea because you were probably guilty of this, too at some point.

Even though the results were pretty good, it makes me cringe to think about how annoying I must have been.  But that doesn’t justify the process.

If you’re “just following up”, you might be doing more harm than good.

You’re annoying the prospect, wasting your time, and fooling yourself that your “activity” equates to “work.”

Instead of “checking in” or “following up,” challenge yourself to ensure that every call or email in your sales process advances your agenda, and does so in service of the prospect.  

This is very, very hard to do, but here are a few habits you can develop that will solve 80% of the problem:

1. Have a goal for every call.

Know why you’re getting on the phone in the first place, and stick to that.

Your goal might be to qualify the prospect, to complete a demo, to agree on pricing, or to get a verbal agreement.  

Whatever your goal, ensure that it moves the process forward—never backward.

Never pick up the phone without a clear objective in mind.

2. State your goal to the prospect in the call.

Explain very clearly to the prospect what you hope to accomplish in your call and frame it in terms that create value for them:

“My goal for this call is to show you how RevBoss boosts your sales prospecting output.

I’ll show you a quick demo, then ask you if I’ve done my job so you can decide if we should schedule an on-boarding call.  

Sound good?”

When the prospect says “yes”, you’ve got permission to proceed.

You’ve set the terms for the call, you’re advancing your agenda, and you’re setting yourself up to close.

3. End every call with a clear next step.

Once you’ve done Steps 1 and 2, you can close the call by letting the prospect agree to the next step in your process (which should already be determined).

It could be another call including a colleague, or it could be an onboarding.

Ideally, you can schedule that next step while you’re still on the phone with them. 

If buyer agrees to move your process forward, then you’ve already defined the goal for your next call.

Occasionally a prospect might say something like, “give me a call if you haven’t heard from me in a week”.  

In these cases, confirm that you’ll call her if you haven’t heard anything in a week, and then set a reminder to do so.

That’s a perfectly justified justified and well-earned “follow up” call.

And that’s how you follow up properly—with a proven sales prospecting strategy.