Mastering the Art of the Follow Up
Being successful in sales involves more than just generating leads — you also have to manage them. Without proper lead management, your salespeople will see less success turning prospects into members, and the growth of your brand will be limited.
According to Michael Kennedy, the vice president of sales and fitness at EOS Fitness, it’s up to your leadership team to educate salespeople on the importance of being attentive to the entire sales process — starting with following up on leads promptly.
“You have to understand the sense of urgency when a lead comes in and make sure the people who are managing the leads understand how time-sensitive leads management is,” explained Kennedy. “You want to have sales systems in place that educate on the importance of why the lead is so important.”
The backbone of your club’s sales system is your sales software. There are several options available to the fitness industry, such as Club OS and Salesforce, that provide lead acquisition information and sales reporting, among other performance statistics.
“We utilize technology to our advantage,” said Denise Watkins, the sales director at Newtown Athletic Club. “We integrate as many systems as possible with our customer relationship management (CRM) software to ensure each lead has been entered properly with all pertinent information. This also allows us to be as educated as possible on who we are communicating with.”
That pertinent lead information is critical for a smooth sales process. “Your leads management software should be able to tell you when a lead comes in, and when you actually reached out and talked to them,” said Kennedy.
In addition to showing who’s been reached out to, a good sales software can also give salespeople a blueprint for how to best proceed with their prospects.
“Our sales process is set within our CRM and provides to-dos for each membership associate for the day,” said Watkins. “Templates are created with the intention of each team member adding their personal touch to make the communications personalized to the prospect.”
In some cases, your sales software can automate several aspects of the sales process, such as tracking salesperson-to-prospect communication, assigning leads, or automatically sending out reports.
“Salesforce automates the entire lead management process for us, and allows us to track all lead records, including text messages and phone calls into each lead record,” shared Tom Deimler, the senior vice president of sales and marketing at California Family Fitness.
Training the Troops
But even if you can set up a lead management system that basically runs itself, any sales process will also have a human element.
“The biggest challenge you’ll have is the ongoing training with your salespeople,” said Kennedy. “When you’re talking about following up on leads, it’s sometimes difficult for salespeople to understand there are several steps to create a member from this lead.”
According to Kennedy, this is why a sales manager’s role is so important. “It’s definitely about cultivating, training and developing your sales team to make sure they understand the importance of not just lead generation, but enhancing and taking care of your leads,” he said.
As mentioned, time is of the essence. The sooner someone from your club can reach out to a prospect, the higher your chances of gaining a member.
“In the digital age, people expect immediate satisfaction,” explained Watkins. “As health club managers know, the membership office is the hub of the club for members needing assistance. Ensuring we’re contacting leads within that first five to seven minutes is challenging, but necessary.”
Kennedy echoed this sentiment. “We want to be giving a phone call to that lead inside 10 minutes,” he said. “The purpose is that person was sitting in front of a computer or a device, and was motivated to inquire about a fitness membership. To maximize the opportunity, we need to make sure that follow-up is happening immediately.”
After that immediate follow-up, entering the correct information about that communication is just as important, according to Deimler. “The biggest challenge we have is making sure leads collected manually end up being entered into Salesforce,” he said.
Everyone’s Fair Share
An ever-present challenge for sales managers is properly divvying up leads once they come through the system. There are two constants in the sales world: the leads always keep coming, and the sales landscape is always competitive.
An easy way to divvy up leads and avoid potential conflict among salespeople is to funnel them through one person — a general manager or sales manager — via your sales software.
“Leads that come from our website and through other electronic methods — such as landing pages — are automatically sent to our sales managers, who assign leads equally to our sales staff,” said Deimler.
EOS Fitness follows a similar strategy. “Leads go to our general manager,” said Kennedy. “That manager will either own that lead themselves or decide to divvy it up in a rotation system. Usually there are key performance indicators that put salespeople into a rotation system. Generally, we want our best salesperson owning that new lead.”
Conversely, the Newtown sales team operates on a “free-for-all” system, of sorts. “All new leads entered into the system are fair game to claim for the sales associates who are in the office,” said Watkins. “But they must contact the potential member immediately. Generally, leads are claimed evenly among associates. Achieving our team goal is our primary objective, so this does keep office camaraderie strong, yet competitive.”
Accountability is of the utmost importance when divvying up sales leads, whether you allow your sales team to individually claim leads or you have a manager doling them out among team members.
“You want to ensure there’s someone you can hold accountable to make sure the lead is being followed up with appropriately,” said Kennedy.
Following up with prospects is one of the most important, yet easily neglected, steps of the sales process. This is where your sales software can be very helpful.
“We rely on our automated items to assist us in keeping contact with our leads so we don’t lose touch,” said Watkins. “We set our parameters and let the technology keep us on track.”
And even though the system’s reminders are automated, Watkins still keeps close tabs on the system and how organized it is. “As a manager, keeping our sales CRM clean and ensuring the team is following their to-dos allows me to manage effectively and efficiently,” she said.
The easiest way to stay on top of lead management is to get consistent reports. “We use Club OS, and there is a report we get daily and weekly that gives us ‘leads contacted’ and ‘leads not contacted’ statistics,” said Kennedy. “If you’re managing this, obviously you’re looking to see a zero on that second list.”
As managers, it’s critical to use reports to spot areas of improvement within the sales process, as well as where individual salespeople can improve. In short, the most important aspect of sales lead management is to constantly review the results you’re seeing.
“We review all leads and contacts throughout the week with our membership consultants,” said Deimler. “We then use a series of dashboards to look for opportunities and problems. Since moving to Salesforce, our lead management has improved greatly.”
By using technology to organize your sales process more efficiently and teaching your sales team the importance of follow-up, the final result will be more members joining your club.