Following up is often a difficult but very necessary part of the sales process. Very rarely will a sales agent connect with a lead on the first attempt, which is why it’s important to follow up with them to work towards the sale. In fact, the follow-up is really where the ball gets rolling and the sale gains momentum; 80% of all sales are made on the 5th to 12th contact.

Following up is important not only for closing leads, it’s a great way to network. Even if you aren’t able to get a sale, you can build a relationship with the prospect through follow-ups, and they may refer someone else to you in the future.

Unfortunately, most sales reps don’t put enough time and effort into the follow-up process, resulting in missed opportunities. Think your technique could use a little tuning up? These are our dos and don’ts of following up:

DO be personal.

Whether it’s a phone call or email, make sure it doesn’t sound like the same, generic message 15 other people are receiving. Be mindful of their personality when you talk to them. Are they more professional or laid-back? Take on the tone that they feel comfortable with and use language specific to them.

DON’T use certain phrases.

It’s beneficial to avoid using certain phrases like “touch base” or “check in” when following up with a prospect. By telling them you’re just calling to follow up, the lead hears “I’m calling for no reason,” and may think there’s no reason to continue the conversation. The last thing you want to do is make your client feel like their time is being wasted, so always have a “reason” to call. Stay up to date with news and trends in their industry, and use that information to let them know how you can help them.

DO prioritize your follow-ups.

As a salesperson, you’re likely having tons of conversations with different people all the time. Make a list of the leads you’re currently working on and rank them from strongest connection/most interested to weakest connection/least interested. Make efforts to reach out to those at the top of your list before those near the bottom, as they offer the most promise and may be waiting for a call.

DON’T forget or choose not to follow up.

Even if you think you’re wasting your time by following up, you’re not. As we mentioned before, following up is a great way to network and improve relationships, even if you’re not converting clients. Reaching out after the initial contact is a good way to let the prospect know you’ve thought about them and you want to help. Choosing not to follow up does exactly the opposite and may cause the prospect to defer others away from you.

DO be kind!

We probably don’t need to say it, but it’s always important to be kind and show gratitude in any communication with your leads. Let them know you appreciate them taking the time to talk to you and don’t forget to be yourself. No one wants to talk to a robot, so always be endearing and sincere.