Follow-up is one of the most important steps in the sales process. The simple act of calling your customer after sending a proposal will drastically increase your close rates. 

But most salespeople don't follow up. Here’s why.

You don’t know how

If you haven’t read a book or sat through a training class on how to follow up, then you probably don’t know how. There is a lot more to following up than just calling your customer back, or worse, sending an email.

Here is a follow up training article that will get you started. But there is still more to it. You need to develop your own process. 

Sit down with your team and decide what your follow up process should be. Then work it and tweak it until you hit your stride. 

You don’t have the right tools

10 years ago I was terrible at follow up. I didn’t have the right tools. I was using an excel spreadsheet to track all my deals. It was a horrific system. 

There was barely enough room to write one sentence about the progress of each job. There was no reminder system. Once a job was more than a month old, it no longer appeared on the screen. I would have to scroll up to find it, which meant it no longer existed.

Excel also doesn’t hold you accountable. You can just scroll aimlessly for 10 minutes until you finally get distracted with something else. I was making 5 follow up calls a week instead of 50.

PRO TIP: Make sure you have a sales pipeline tool you can enter all your deals into. The tool should be simple. When you enter in the data for your deal, it should only include a few pieces of information: Who is your customer. What is the job name. What is the deal size. And most importantly, a reminder for when you are going to follow up. We increased our close rate by 30% using a tool like this. What are you waiting for? (It doesn’t have be expensive either. The one we use starts at $10 per month). 

You’re afraid of rejection

I get it. We all want to be liked. We don’t want to be told no. Plus, if you don’t follow up, the deal remains open and you still "have a chance of closing". The harsh reality is if you aren’t following up because you’re afraid of rejection, sales probably isn’t the career for you. 


First, realize that 99% of rejections aren’t personal. Your solution is rejected, not you personally. When you are told no, find out why and learn from it.

Second, think of sales like your favorite MLB player. Their failure rate at the plate is 70%. Understand that you aren’t going to close every deal. Deal with it. 

Third, pick up Jia Jiang’s book, Rejection Proof. You will learn valuable lessons about rejection. And you will enjoy the book!

You find other busy work

The trigger for this could be a lot of things. You might tell yourself “I think my customer is in a meeting” or “I don’t really want to bother her again this morning”. So you find something else to do: “Oh, I will take care of this warranty issue real quick.” Or “Oh I need to take care of scanning in a few receipts for expenses.” Next thing you know you get busy and haven’t done any follow up. Don’t get distracted!

What can you do to avoid distraction?

You don’t schedule it for the right time (or it’s not scheduled at all)

For most of you, follow up calls should be done first thing in the morning. Your rule should be that you don’t look at email, or make any other non-follow up calls until your follow up calls are complete. Your willpower is at its maximum strength in the morning. Your mind is sharp early in the day. And you have the rest of the day to put out fires.

PRO TIP: Decide when you will follow up. Then put it in your calendar. A recurring appointment for the same time. Then don’t schedule other appointments during this time. 

Following up will make or break you as a salesperson. 

What is your follow up strategy?

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Brad Telker
Vice President, Applied Systems Group at cfm Distributors, Inc.

Brad joined the cfm team in 2006, and now as the Vice President of the Applied Systems Group, he focuses on business development, as well as helping contractors and engineers find creative and unique solutions to any size HVAC project. When he’s not at work, Brad enjoys reading, running and spending time with his family