The DUP leadership election followed the recent announcement by current leader and First Minister Arlene Foster announced that she was standing down.
Mr. Poots has said numerous times that if selected as the new leader he would not seek to be First Minister.
Friday's contest was the first ever leadership election held by the staunchly socially conservative party founded by firebrand Protestant cleric turned peacemaker Ian Paisley 50 years ago.
The party's electoral college, comprising 28 MLAs and eight MPs, will meet virtually to hear both men's pitches before voting in a secret ballot.
"It's that resilience that we are going to go forward and make Northern Ireland a good place", he said in an address at party headquarters in east Belfast.
Sir Jeffrey and Mr Poots face several challenges, including post-Brexit trading arrangements under the Northern Ireland Protocol, which has been reviled by unionists and loyalists as a "border in the Irish Sea".
The new Deputy Leader is Paula Bradley, who beat Gregory Campbell to the role by 18 votes to 16.
Mr Poots was up against Lagan Valley MP Jeffrey Donaldson for the top job.
"We have work to do in our health service which is greatly challenged at this time with waiting lists which are horrendous anywhere in the United Kingdom. That's a very important decision and I know he would be immensely proud of that today".
"I want to say this very clearly".
"I want to see unionism working together".
"The Northern Ireland Protocol has proven to be a massive challenge for all of us and if we are to fight this to ensure that everybody in Northern Ireland is not worse off as a effect of the Protocol then it's for us to do that together".
As agriculture minister in the five-party coalition, Poots has attempted to obstruct and delay the efficient rollout of European Union sanitary checks on British goods arriving at Northern Ireland ports. We want to increase our university places.
That has strained relations with Irish nationalist rivals Sinn Fein, with whom it leads Northern Ireland's power-sharing government.
She succeeds Lord Dodds in the role. I will be a leader in unionism that will be reaching out to other leaders in unionism.
There were two invalid votes in the deputy leader election count.