Modern Selling: Great Salespeople Lead with Follow-ups

Aug. 9, 2023
5 ways to incorporate them into your daily sales routine

This article originally appeared in the August 2023 issue of Security Business magazine. When sharing, don’t forget to mention Security Business magazine on LinkedIn and @SecBusinessMag on Twitter.

When performed at an excellent level, there are a handful of skills that can hide all other poorly performed skills. Baseball players who are good hitters, for example, can find a spot in the starting lineup even if they are not good at fielding, running, or throwing. Politicians who can raise money will have long careers, regardless of their ability to govern, lead, or inspire. Salespeople who are great at follow-up will succeed even if they are not charismatic or technically superior.

Follow-up can be significant to a salesperson’s success, but not many of them are good at it. I think it is mostly because they don’t see the importance, don’t know how to follow-up, and don’t have the right habits to ensure that they do it.

Here are five ideas to becoming great at follow-up, and ultimately excellent at sales.

1. Ask for permission to follow-up.

When a salesperson discusses the follow-up plan with a customer, they set the tone that they are professional and will be taking the next steps seriously. It also can relieve them of pressure or concern about bugging their customers. Not only does the customer know that the salesperson will be contacting them, but they also expect it. When asking permission, simply ask for the best method of follow-up, the best time of the day to reach them, and a time frame that would be acceptable for follow-up.

2. Send a debrief email immediately after sales calls.

The first follow-up action should be conducted immediately after sales calls with the debrief email, where you deliver a list of bullet items that outline the agreed-upon action plan and assign people to each item. Again, this sends the message that the salesperson is professional and relieves the customer of the burden of driving the project – knowing that the salesperson will handle everything. A simple debrief email will do this.

3. Eliminate the need to follow-up.

The best time to follow up is when still in front of the customer. Every time I get a haircut or massage, I’m asked to schedule my next appointment, and I do; however, I probably wouldn’t if I was not asked. Salespeople who ask to schedule the next step before the current step is completed have far greater success.

4. Push back when they delay.

Sometimes the follow-up action is not successful, and that is when salespeople must resort to one of the skills that separates them from all other professionals: the skill of confronting another person with grace. If a customer does not reply or states that they are going to delay the progress, then it is the salesperson’s job to remind them how important the project is, and then commit to doing whatever is needed to work the next step around their busy schedule. Many times, salespeople focus on the problems and negative outcomes of not moving forward, but they must also make it easy and safe for their customers to take the next step. When pushing back, great salespeople try to do it in person or over the phone, not via email or text. Sometimes grace looks like selfish aggression without the emotion and tone involved in a real conversation.

5. Commit to doing it.

Great salespeople simply do it. A common challenge to salespeople following up is their lack of organization or routine. Perhaps they have every intention of following up, but they forget. Staying organized is a topic on which we could fill 200 pages, but there is one rule of thumb that I share with everyone that asks: create a routine that works and do it. Whatever that routine is, it needs to make follow-up easy to remember and to do.

Chris Peterson is the founder and president of Vector Firm (, a sales consulting and training company built specifically for the security industry. Use "Security Business" as a coupon code to receive a 10% lifetime discount at To request more info about the company, visit

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