Following up and keeping in touch are easily forgotten.
Day to day you are busy responding to emails, client projects, telephone calls and whatever else demands your attention. Days can merge into weeks; weeks into months. And before you know it, that potential client you spoke to about starting a new project has been lost in the ether of time.
Now I know you want to become a magnet to your clients. Chase them too hard and it’s easy to feel worried that you may come across as being desperate for the business. And, after all, isn’t it better to have them chase you?
But when you are now left wondering how long you should go before following up with their initial enquiry, that’s where holes start appearing in your business.
Whatever your reasons are for “forgetting” to follow up and keep in touch with people who have shown an interest in what you do, not doing anything about it is crazy. Especially when you spend most of your marketing time trying to find new contacts and leads to speak to!
If you are forgetting the ones that you’ve already found, you are leaving a stack load of money on the table. You need to plug up those holes!
But what to do about it?
- What follow up did you agree? The most common mistake made is not agreeing on a time, day or action for following up. Never leave a conversation without agreeing the next time of the next call or meeting or what is supposed to happen next. If the next step is to make contact again is not imminent, then at the very least decide on a time scale; whether that’s 6 weeks or 6 months.
- How you think about the follow up is the way it’s going to go. If you feel that following up with someone is salesy, that’s exactly how it will come across. If you feel slightly desperate about winning the business, that’s exactly how it will come across.Remember your potential clients are human beings too. The reason they haven’t got back to you may actually have nothing to do with the fact they don’t want to work with you. A member of their team has just resigned and it’s gone manic at work. Their child is off school sick and they are very concerned about the doctor’s report. They have got sick themselves and staying in bed until their temperature has gone down.
If you keep in mind that it’s not all about you and that your potential client may actually have more pressing issues to deal with than the discussions you having with them, they may welcome the reminder and glad of the opportunity not to miss out on the offer you’ve got for them.
- Following up doesn’t always have to be about the sale. Sending a simple Thank You on a back of postcard or emailing a link to a relevant article you’ve just seen can be the perfect excuse for staying in touch. If you make it all about the sale all of the time, your desperation may come across and shoo the client away.
- Have an email marketing system set up. Whether you send out a fortnightly email newsletter or have a specific autoresponder sequence set up, add your potential client to that list so they can get the value of your expertise. Again, if all your follow ups are about making the sale, it may get very irritating for them.
- Don’t wait for Christmas to send them cards. Once a year, our postal service gets inundated with seasonal greetings. And so do your clients. Why spend money on cards and postage, only to get lost in the dozens of other follow ups from your competitors. There are plenty of other occasions throughout the year that are worth celebrating; Valentine’s Day, Easter, New Year and probably plenty of unusual National Days that could merit a card that says “Hi … remember me?”
- Set up a system. Whether it’s a basic excel spreadsheet or adding dates to your calendar or even subscribing to a specific CRM tool such as Capsule or Salesforce, you absolutely need to have a system set up so you don’t rely on memory. When you start up in business, it can feel easy to keep track of a few calls here and there. But when your follow ups span across the year and some clients may take months and months to buy from you, you mustn’t rely on scraps of paper and notebooks.
- Know that a “NO” now can often the start of a beautiful partnership. It can take a long time for someone to know, like and trust you enough to buy your services. They may say being saying no to you right now, but over time that can change to a yes. So be careful not to throw a sulk and take the rejection personally as a “NO” may actually mean “NO, Not right now … but keep in touch and we may re-consider.
Remember, persistence is everything. Never be worried about being desperate if you can genuinely help your clients. If you know you are a good fit for each other and that they have expressed an interest in what you can do for them, be strategic in your follow up process and you will reap your rewards.
Time to hear from you. How do you manage your follow up calls? Or do you dare to admit that follow ups rarely happen?
Leave a comment below as I love to read your thoughts and ideas, too.