Jill Konrath


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3 Sales Follow-Up Strategies to Replace "Touching Base"


Sales Follow-Up StrategiesMARTY'S QUESTION: You often mention that it's bad to follow up with prospects by saying, "I'm just touching base." I'm struggling to find a decent alternative. What do you recommend?

MY ANSWER: It's more than just finding replacement phrases like ""checking in." When you leave messages like this, your prospect deletes them in a nanosecond. Worse yet, they see you as just another pesky salesperson. Clearly, that's not good!

Here's the deal. To keep sales momentum alive, you need to provide value on every interaction -- even a quick follow-up call. That means you need to rethink your entire callback strategy. Here are three approaches that have worked for me:

1. Re-emphasize the business value

Your prospects will only change because of the impact you can have on their organization. Reiterate it. Remind them of how you can help.

You might say: "Pat, in our previous conversation you mentioned how important it was to get going on this soon so you could realize the savings (eliminate redundancies, drive incremental growth) that you need by year end. Let's set up time to talk so we can get you moving forward."

2. Share ideas & insights

Your prospects want to work with someone who's constantly thinking about how they can improve their business. Be that person.

You might say: "Pat, I've been thinking more about how we can help you increase sales (reduce costs, speed up productivity). I thought you might be interested in what we did with XYZ organization when they were dealing with the same challenge. Do you have a few minutes for a quick conversation?"

3. Continue to educate

Sometimes your prospects are still asking themselves, "Does it make sense to move forward or not?" From the outside, you won't know. But you can keep giving them more reasons to change!

You might say: "Pat, I know it's a big decision to change from the status quo. That's why I thought you might be interested in this article (ROI calculator, case study, webinar, ebook) on (relevant topic). Let's set up a time to talk through your questions."

See the difference? You're still providing value. Even though they said they were interested. Even though they told you to check back next week. Even though they told you it was a "slam dunk" and they just needed to get the paperwork done. 

Drop the "touching base" and "checking in" mentality from your vocabulary entirely. When making follow up calls, become an asset in their decision process. That's when they'll really want to work with you!

Question: What are some successful strategies you use when following up with prospects? Enter your comments now.

Jill KonrathJill Konrath is an internationally recognized sales strategist. As author of two bestselling books, SNAP Selling and Selling to Big Companies, she's a frequent speaker at sales meetings and conferences. For more fresh ideas, download her free Prospecting Toolkit.



Thank you. This is the word I needed today. I'm a student of sales, working hard but looking to always improve. Thank you!
Posted @ Thursday, June 14, 2012 2:13 PM by Russ Knight
Great suggestions! I'm going to try them out right away. Maybe I'll actually get someone to call me back if I leave a different message. Thanks!
Posted @ Thursday, June 14, 2012 4:04 PM by Susan Joy Schleef
So true. I have been using the momentum strategy and thinking from their perspective on how to support the prospect in moving forward. I think it's working and importantly distinguishing our brand.
Posted @ Friday, June 15, 2012 10:09 AM by Cindy Pileski
Jill, this is such a good reminder. My clients always want to know what the "hot" physical promotions are, so worst case I try to share that. However, I'm guilty of taking the easy road and "just checking in" or "just following up" in MN speak. Thanks for the reminder, I needed it.
Posted @ Friday, June 15, 2012 10:12 AM by Paul Miller, Promotional Marketing
So very true to continue dropping the reasons they should call you back in front of them - simply 'checking in' is pretty much the same as asking a yes/no questions versus an open ended question. 
Great post!
Posted @ Friday, June 15, 2012 11:02 PM by Liz Carbonaro
This is helpful. Just checking in becomes so boring and basic. There are enough resources out there for us to add value, we just have to work them into the followup. Thanks!
Posted @ Monday, June 18, 2012 11:04 AM by Beatrice Johnston
Think I got this tip from you Jill, but its a good one. If I have prospect who has long time frame, I put their company or industry in google alerts. Then when something relevant comes up, will send email on that item. I'm able to keep in touch, develop value all without being a pest saying "do you want to buy now?, how about now??"..when they get a call or email from me they know it's of value.
Posted @ Monday, June 18, 2012 12:05 PM by joe
This is the woman I spoke about...this is a timely article.
Posted @ Monday, June 18, 2012 2:12 PM by Brooke Cowell
Thank you. You are the best!
Posted @ Tuesday, June 19, 2012 9:30 AM by Keys Oakley
Posted @ Thursday, August 16, 2012 1:51 PM by Mike Worthington
Love your approach to following up. I've been guilty of using the phrases "touching base" and took a lot away from your post. Thanks for the insight and examples.
Posted @ Sunday, August 26, 2012 11:42 PM by Ndidi
Always provide value. Love it. 
I recently wrote a paper about online lead prospecting that you might be interested in. This free download lists 5 simple and quick methods to prospect online and receive very qualified, real-time leads to your inbox all day every day. Spend one hour with it and you'll have quality leads coming to you every day. That is how I found this post! 
5 Online Prospecting Tips to Receive Leads into Your Inbox Daily
Posted @ Sunday, February 03, 2013 8:39 AM by Michael Cordova
In today's environment, I think it is more important than ever for sales people to be educators. 
Posted @ Monday, March 25, 2013 7:23 AM by Marc Zazeela
What a perfect way for me to start my work day. Will re-read carefully, write down how I will implement it on my first call, see if I need to re-improve and move forward with each other call after that until I master it!
Posted @ Monday, March 25, 2013 10:36 AM by Brenda
This is really timely ...thanks Jill.
Posted @ Monday, March 25, 2013 2:44 PM by Lori Gray
What's interesting is how many of my LI connections and clients write ME emails telling me to "touch base" or "check in" with them! That phrase is pervasive in business vocabulary. When I do "circle back around" I avoid the "check/touch" language and have found that using phrases and sentences as you suggest gets them focused on task immediately. Thanks for this post. As always, right on the money [literally]. 
Posted @ Friday, June 14, 2013 6:03 PM by Babette Ten Haken
Great points all. Our company's sales reps are mostly trusted advisor's, but I constantly tell them that if they don't have a clear cut objective/strategy on their follow ups that they immediately turn into glorified customer support reps and may just end up helping to repair someone's printer instead of driving a sale.
Posted @ Thursday, July 25, 2013 10:24 AM by kurt
Business correspondence is one of the most important functions that we need in our business.  
We've got to formulate the right business strategies to achieving your business goals. Incredibly interesting in here indeed.
Posted @ Monday, August 05, 2013 1:36 AM by Gregory @ insurance
The only word that I would omit is "might". The word might makes the statement weaker.  
Pat, I know it's a big decision to change from the status quo. That's why I thought you would be interested in this article (ROI calculator, case study, webinar, ebook) on (relevant topic). Let's set up a time to talk through your questions." 
Replacing might with would affirms the belief that your information is important and worth your customers time to read.
Posted @ Thursday, December 26, 2013 9:12 AM by Patty McNett
it was a good post with your all 3 points. i m working as business developer executive for a small company and i m trying to increase the sales for my company. i found your post and i m really happy to know all the points. because mostly i get issues with follow emails.
Posted @ Thursday, February 13, 2014 2:02 AM by Stefi
Really appreciate this article. It was a nice and quick reminder that everything needs to be treated as a sales opportunity.
Posted @ Monday, March 03, 2014 12:25 PM by Brian B
I will start out by saying that I agree with what was posted in this article. A salesperson in this day and age cannot simply call a customer and say "I'm just following up" or "I'm just touching base". Prospects are too busy for this passive talk track and will think negatively upon the phone call.  
Every time you reach out to a prospect it should be to provide them with some type of new information. This could be a new product, a new idea, and example of how you helped another organization in their same industry!  
Posted @ Saturday, March 22, 2014 3:32 PM by Beginnersales
Hi Jill. Great article. You've given a great value to me :). 
Until now I just knew that the sales proces is about gathering prospcects => make a phone call => set up an appointment => make an appointment => present advantages => close sale => sign a contract. 
So long proces but look where is the source? The heart of sale lies exact in prospecting proces.
Posted @ Thursday, April 17, 2014 3:45 AM by Daniel
This is a very thoughtful and helpful approach. I am already seeing changes in client's responses following this approach.
Posted @ Wednesday, April 23, 2014 9:53 AM by Bharat Prakash
Great simple suggestions ! I find that providing knowledge on Trends and Market Intelligence to buyers helps to build and solidify Relationships with their Accounts.  
Posted @ Wednesday, April 23, 2014 2:00 PM by Louis Houde
Thanks for these suggestions, it is good to be constantly renewing
Posted @ Thursday, April 24, 2014 3:10 PM by Mayra Cantu
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