Lead Follow Up Best Practices

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Lead Follow Up Best Practices

While lead follow-up approach differs for businesses, some best practices hold true. Emails and phone calls are the two methods commonly used by top SaaS companies to respond to leads. Emails are preferable for initiating the follow-up attempt, however, combining them with phone calls and voicemails helps to ultimately convert SaaS leads into customers. If a follow-up to the first email, which is usually automated after initial lead qualification, is sent within an optimal range of 3–8 days, the chances of getting a reply increase by 21%. This increases to 25% for subsequent follow-ups. Phone calls made to SaaS leads on Wednesdays and Thursdays, 5 minutes after a lead makes the first qualifying contact, dialed around 8 am or 4–5 pm; and persisted for up to the 6th call, are some of the best practices necessary to stand a 90% chance of getting a follow-up contact with a SaaS lead.

Researching SaaS lead follow-up best practices produced a myriad of opinions on the topic. However, research was restricted to methods specific for qualified leads. Hence, for this report, we researched how each lead follow-up method is creatively implemented. Next, we researched relevant industry statistics that confirm each method to be effective, and sourced case studies of top SaaS companies who have used a combination of these methods to follow up and close leads. Also, we researched templates of each method and have included those acknowledged to be effective based on the revenue they generated.

Overview of best practices for saas lead follow-up

To close SaaS leads into paying customers, it is imperative to have an automated or manually ready follow-up process. Although top SaaS companies initiate their qualified lead follow-up process with an automated email; the number of emails to be sent, the periods they should be sent, things to be communicated, how to employ phone calls and voicemails in the follow-up process, and how to be creative when following up SaaS leads are questions answered in this research report.

Starting with the inbound lead follow-up approach, some qualitative ways to follow-up a SaaS lead include:

1. Use a tailored approach: a contextually tailored follow-up approach works better than the best performing templates. For example, if a lead requests a product trial from a SaaS website, a call asking to send a product demonstration is more appropriate, while an automated email is better for a lead that downloads an e-book.

2. Add Value First: effective lead follow-up centers on the prospective customer's needs and not the sales interest of a company. It is advisable to follow up SaaS leads by acting as a trusted advisor and adding value for the customer before making the sales pitch.

3. Don't make assumptions: under this best practice, it is important to maintain a broad scope of what leads may need, instead of becoming too specific. The idea here is to follow up a lead starting with a broad view of what their needs might be, hence, appearing to add value first before attempting to sell.

4. Be quick: the need to be quick in following up a SaaS lead is why top companies have an automated drip email ready to send once a lead makes contact. From research, leads followed-up within 10 minutes are more likely to convert, hence, in following up a SaaS lead, coupled with the best practices given above, there has to be some swiftness.

SaaS lead follow-up by email best practices

Some statistics that support the idea that email is a reliable channel to follow up on leads include: email is 40 times more effective for acquiring new customers; 72% of people prefer to receive promotional offers via email and 4.24% of visitors from email buy something compared with 2.49% from search engines, and 0.59% from social media.

From research carried out on 281 SaaS companies, the best performing lead follow-up case studies were initiated with an automated email. However, when using email to follow up a lead, getting a reply is more likely after the first and subsequent follow-ups. A 21% increased chance of getting a reply is likely after the first follow-up email and that increases to 25% for subsequent follow-ups.

However, following up leads have different formulas depending on whether it is a cold, warm, free trial, lead opt-in, product sale or a promotional outreach lead follow-up, respectively. To follow each of these type of leads, a different contextual approach must be employed. For cold email follow-ups, the process has to be initiated by the first email. While diverse formulas may work, our research found those recommended by Close.io to be very insightful.

The first email has to be strong, personalized, written in a second-person interactive language, add value to the lead, and be written using a tried and tested template. Things to include in a first email are: an engaging and powerful subject line, visuals, a persistent tone, a very clear call to action button. The email should be as brief as possible, use a customer-centric approach, be proofread before sending, and have a professional signature. The first follow-up emails rarely get a 40% response rate, hence, the other 60% can be achieved by getting a subsequent follow-up ready. Following the Close.io formula, following up cold lead goes like this: first follow-up after day 1 with a more summarized version of the first email; second follow-up email after 2 days restating the request to connect via phone call or to schedule an appointment and a breakup email sent after 4-5 days of no response.

Unlike a cold email follow-up, which is advisable to be terminated after the above steps have been followed, the other types of leads are to be followed for as long as possible.
Warm leads, like other leads, need to be followed with relevancy and frequency, hence, following them until they convert without annoying them. The recommended process are: 2 follow-up emails on day one; 4 emails by day 3; 7 emails by day 7; 14 emails by day 14; 28 emails by day 28; 30 emails by day 54; from where at least one email is sent per month to maintain relationship until a lead takes action, which should trigger another set of automated drips messages, and attempt to convert them into customers.

Best sending times and emails that works

There is no one-size-fits-all time for sending follow-up emails. The best times to send a SaaS lead follow-up emails are best obtained by A/B testing what works in a given business situation. However, HubSpot's Dan Zurella says after consistent tweaks between Saturdays and Sundays, he gets the best click-through rates on those days and that he gets better performances between Wednesday-Fridays, as against Monday-Tuesdays. In his case, Buffer's Keevan Lee recommends that follow-ups emails are better scheduled for quieter off-peak periods. Generally, it is optimal to keep follow-up emails between 2 to 8 days.

For follow-up email templates that have been tried and have produced notable results, a detailed analysis of them include:
1. Follow-up template that generated $4 million revenue.

saas lead follow-up by phone call

A 3-year survey of about 100,000 phone calls was used to produce the following insightful lead follow-up statistics. With 2,260 and 2,340 contacts made on Wednesdays and Thursdays, respectively, these days performs better for calling leads than other days of the week. The best times to make a follow-up phone call is around 8 am and 4-5 pm, respectively, and follow-up calls that were persistent until the 6th attempt had a 90% chance of making contact. On average, within 5 minutes of initial lead contact was the best time to dial and there is about 900% increase in contact rate when a call is made within 5 minutes, as opposed to when made after 10 minutes.

Some tips for calling a SaaS lead include: using a prepared transcript; having a conversation mapped out in advance; potential answers should be practiced prior to making the call; understanding the client before pitching; captivating the lead by earning their attention; avoiding distraction when calling a SaaS lead; and dropping a clear voicemail if necessary. Other tips for following up a SaaS lead are found here. Actionable scripts for preparing a SaaS lead follow-up phone call have been outlined here and a case study of how phone calls follow-ups turned Uber into a $17 billion company can be reviewed here.

Combining emails, phone calls, and voicemails

A look at case studies by Salesforce, Intactt, and New Relic reveals that they use a combination of emails, phone calls, and voicemails to follow up leads. Hence, this makes the effective combination of the three channels a best practice for following up with SaaS leads. Salesforce automates a series of 10 emails sent over 29 days and composed of sales emails and a series of drip marketing sequences. Over 24 days, New Relic automates a combination of 10 emails, 6 calls, and 4 voicemails, which composes of sales emails, calls, voicemails, and drip sequences; while Intactt adopts a short timeline of 8 days to send 7 emails and 5 voicemails. Using these respective approaches, these companies have yielded notable results. A full case study of each can be found here.

However, the best practices for using the combination of emails, phone calls, and voicemails to follow-up a SaaS lead include: quickly referencing initial contact to familiarize with the lead, repeating details earlier agreed upon, reaching out by using any of the channels the lead prefers, and always having the next action plan prepared, amongst others.

Conclusion

The primary methods for SaaS lead follow-up are using emails and phone calls. While the best times to send emails are best found by A/B testing, sending at weekends and off-peak periods is advisable; and calls are better made on Wednesdays and Thursdays around 8 am or 4–5 pm with a transcript prepared in advance.
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