5 Key Sales Follow-Up Tips for Software Providers

June 9, 2021
Contributor: Rupal Bhandari 

It’s crucial for software providers to keep prospects engaged to remain top-of-mind. Use these tips and tricks to effectively follow up and convert a higher percentage of leads into customers.

Thirty-five percent* of businesses take three to six months to evaluate, select and finalize purchasing new software. Twenty-nine percent* of businesses take six to nine months and 10%* businesses take 9 to 12 months. During this entire purchase journey, it is crucial for software providers to keep the prospective client engaged such that when decision-making happens, the provider is top-of-mind for the lead. 

This is where the sales follow up process becomes important. It is usually the sales team that has to maintain the engagement with the lead via outreach activities such as follow up calls, emails, and social media campaigns. The following key tips and tricks could help software providers run these outreach activities effectively and convert a higher percentage of their leads into customers. 

Tip 1. Reach out to the lead promptly

An average software buyer expresses interest in at least four to five companies or products when researching. To stand out and occupy the buyer’s interest through the sales pipeline, a software provider needs to make timing and persistence the key. 

Reaching out with sales calls within the first five minutes of receiving the lead is a good starting point and should help boost initial lead engagement. It should also help the software provider stay top-of-mind with the potential customer and establish a rapport that can be leveraged later in the sales process.

Tip 2. Use multi-channel outreach method

No buyer’s purchase journey is limited to one channel of communication. Buyers will go online and research on third-party websites, ask questions on forums and social media platforms, speak to sales professionals on the phone and correspond with colleagues as well as software providers via email. Some buyers might also go a step further to watch video walkthroughs and reviews of the software product on online video-sharing platforms. 

Types of touches sales teams use in reaching out to leads

For software providers reaching out to a lead, especially during the initial conversation, it is important to cover multiple key channels simultaneously. Sending two or three messages at the same time, on different channels, can increase the probability of reply rates by as much as 14%. This technique is known as double touch or triple touch, depending on the number of channels being used. 

Tip 3. Create and follow an outbound touch pattern

A touch pattern is a visual representation of the channels, frequencies and intervals of outbound messages to leads. It typically covers email, phone calls, LinkedIn (or other relevant social media platforms), video and direct mail. An outbound touch pattern is usually recommended to be 24 days long, while other types of touch patterns such as inbound and re-engage can be 19 and 13 days respectively. 

Example of outbound sales touch pattern

Creating a touch pattern for the outreach strategy helps the follow-up representatives focus on the messaging, without having to worry about how and when to contact the lead. Thirty percent of sales development leaders say creating a detailed touch pattern has been the most important factor contributing to their sales development success. 

Tip 4. Add engagement to lead qualification criteria

One of the biggest mistakes software providers can make is focusing equally on all leads. Instead, they should include the engagement factor in lead qualification criteria and prioritize high-value and closer-to-purchase leads. This helps avoid wasting resources or time on leads that are simply browsing. 

Include engagement in lead scoring criteria while defining high-quality leads

Engagement lead scoring typically relies on first-party data such as site visits, frequency of visits, recency of visits, high-value page visits, types of content consumed, event or webinar attendance and engagement with sales representatives. 

Software providers can also supplement this first-party data with third-party intent data that considers the broader internet and websites the lead is visiting to research products. Such third-party data can be obtained directly from intent data providers or as part of account-based marketing (ABM) solutions that provide proprietary intent data. 

Tip 5. Supplement sales follow up with quality and relevant content

Quality and relevant content not only increases the effectiveness of an outbound sales strategy but also differentiates the software product from its competitors. It helps leads familiarize themselves with the product, understand use cases and business issues where the product could be helpful and perhaps even see how other similar companies have used the software so far. 

Alight content types and tactics to the purchase journey

Software providers need to develop and curate content that the target buyers can relate to. They can further improve the effectiveness of the content by making sure it is delivered at the right time in the purchase journey. They can also use lead CTAs that seamlessly guide buyers through the purchase journey to address primary buyer considerations. 

Lead Management Guide

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Rupal Bhandari

Rupal Bhandari covers sales and account management markets. She received her master’s degree from the University of Delhi, India, and has created content for some of the world’s leading technology products and companies. Connect with Rupal on LinkedIn.

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*Gartner Digital Markets 2021 COVID-19 Impact on Business Strategy

Results presented are based on a Gartner Digital Markets study conducted to understand the current practices around demand, buying practices, and investment practices pertaining to software solutions. The research was conducted online from November through December 2020 among IT decision-makers across companies in Germany, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Brazil, Mexico, Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg, Sweden, and India. 

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