Published on: Nov 17, 2012 by Gabi Hirina
Most business owners are good at making an offer to prospects or reaching out to new customers. It’s the follow-up where they fall down. Why? Because they figure, “if they wanted my services, they’d finish the transaction,” or they worry, “if I bother them too much, I’ll come off as needy.”
Here’s the thing: While you’re worrying about bugging a prospective customer or telling yourself that maybe “they’re just not that into me,” someone else is following up and sealing the deal!
“No” is just a little bump on the road to “yes.”
Remember that most people do need time to make a decision, but they also need to hear/see/feel your message repeatedly. Also remember, they are busy people too, so when someone expresses interest in your offerings, but they aren’t quite ready to sign on the dotted line, they can often be persuaded with a polite follow up.
And listen to what they say. For example, maybe you’re trying to convince a local business to purchase advertising on your website. They might say, “This sounds like a good opportunity, but I’ve already used up my marketing dollars for this quarter.” By following up before the beginning of the next quarter, you could get on your contact’s radar and get her business while she’s in the planning stages.
Here are some other follow-up methods to consider:
Ask if they’d like to be added to your ezine. Creating an email newsletter is a great way to keep in contact with prospects and update them on new promotions or offerings. Ask their permission first, and include useful content in your ezine so it’s not a pure sales message. Once people get used to receiving timely and insightful information from you, they’ll become more likely to hire you for business.
Create an automatic email series. Also called auto-responder series, this is a programmed set of emails you set up in your shopping cart or email program. You can create a series of mini-lessons related to your specialty, top 10 tips, 5 key strategies, 7 secrets to success, etc. and have each delivered a few days apart. This can be used in addition to your ezine if you have one.
Send useful articles or links. If you know the prospect pretty well, you could email her occasionally when you come across articles that might be useful for her business or see networking events she might like to attend. That way you’re keeping the lines of communication open without pressuring her. I try to do this for my current clients as well. When I’m catching up on business publications (usually during my fly time), I tear out articles if I know a client would appreciate. I then have my assistant scan them, and I email it along with a short note.
Send a card. The holidays and birthdays are a great time to reconnect with prospects and spread seasonal cheer. But consider sending a card at other times of the year, perhaps a mid-summer greeting or a Labor Day card (as people return from vacation, this can be a good time to snag new business). This way you’ll become more memorable and have an excuse to connect with people outside of the regular occasions. A great resource to help speed the process is SendOutCards, but a hand-written card is best when you have time.
Pick up the phone. It’s funny that this one may sound like a revelation in today’s world! We don’t seem to even bother to leave voicemail messages anymore—so imagine how powerful a real live phone call can be to a potential client. I’ve recently shifted the structure of my business so my team members have more live contact with my customers and prospects, and it truly does make a difference. We get feedback that we simply don’t get with email communications, and it’s helping us better tailor our future offerings.
You don’t have to go into it with a hard sell in mind. Instead, think of it as a courtesy call. Your goal should be to find out how your prospect is doing right now, and let them know you are here should they have any questions, or need your service. These calls are also a good opportunity to negotiate a deal that is mutually beneficial, and in the end, it nurtures a long-term relationship.
Hold an event. Consider hosting a discussion group on a timely topic, a networking breakfast, or a free seminar on an issue that will interest potential customers. Invite prospects who were on the fence and use the opportunity to also bring in new people. When you are seen as a leader and connector, you are perceived as being a leader and connector in your business, and that can help them.
The bottom line with all follow up? Be persistent, but always be polite.
Do YOU have follow-up strategies you use that work well? Please join the conversation and share below!
© 2012 Ali International, LLC
“Entrepreneur mentor Ali Brown teaches women around the world how to start and grow profitable businesses that make a positive impact. Get her FREE CD “Top 10 Secrets for Entrepreneurial Women” at www.AliBrown.com”