Faithful Follow-Ups: Ten Helpful Tips

We Build RelationshipsDo you struggle to attract clients or keep the ones you have? Do your sales conversations leave you feeling like you are wasting your time with prospects that won’t buy?

Over the past couple of months, I have been strategizing the expansion of my business via a virtual team. In the process, I have reached out and had conversations with many professionals who offer services that are complimentary to what I do for my clients.

I discovered that nearly 90% of the “experts” I contacted never bothered to follow up with me after our initial contact!

Now, one could argue that perhaps they didn’t think I was their “ideal client,” but given that I reached out to them specifically after they had been recommended to me or I had thoroughly researched what they offer, it’s quite unlikely.

What’s more likely is a habit of poor follow-up practices. That’s why I want to encourage you to learn and practice the art of the follow-up with your prospects and clients. Then, you will not only increase your conversion, but also build stronger relationships with the clients you already have.

Remember that regardless of how amazing your products and services may be, your initial interaction with your prospects will define their assumptions of how they will be treated if they were to become your client.

Here are my top 10 tips for following up to get the sale while keeping your current clients happy:

1. It’s not about you!
Whether you are following up with a new prospect or existing client, make sure you are focused 100% on them. Ask good questions to learn about their situations and how you can best be of service to them. Listen more than you speak, and patiently wait for the appropriate cues before offering a solution (a.k.a. your product or service).

2. Focus on relationships, not lists.
I cringe every time I get an automated email with a title such as “I missed you yesterday…” or “I am thinking of you…” from people I have never had any personal contact with. If someone is one of thousands on your email list, don’t insult them by pretending you know and actually care about them. If you run a service-oriented business, it is particularly important that you really get to know your clients and how they prefer to be served.

SabineQuote13. Practice the 24-hour rule.
If a client or prospect reaches out to you for information or to resolve an issue, make sure you respond within a reasonable amount of time. Personally, I strive to respond to all emails or calls within 24 hours, but never exceed a 48-hour time frame. After a phone or in-person sales conversation, always follow up with an email or snail mail summary of your conversation including next steps.

4. Lead with the giving hand.
When you follow up with a prospect or client, personalize your interaction by sharing information that creates value for your prospect or client without asking anything in return. For example, you may share articles, referrals, or product reviews with them that address a problem they mentioned in a previous conversation.

5. Keep following up if you don’t hear back.
One big mistake many business owners make is to assume disinterest when they don’t hear anything after the initial follow-up. Keep in mind that while your prospect may not have an immediate need, they will remember your name and call on you eventually if you give them a positive experience and stay visible. Don’t stop following up unless someone directly asks you not to contact them anymore.

6. Let them know you really care.
I check in weekly with all my current clients and at least monthly with past clients—just to see how they are doing in their business and if there is anything I can do to support them. I occasionally send cards, sample products, or “client-only” offers and gifts. For example, all my clients recently received a complimentary copy of a book I co-authored, Rock Bottom is a Beautiful Place.

7. All prospects and clients are VIP.
Some businesses make the mistake of only treating their big ticket clients like royalty. I say, treat all your prospects and existing clients as if they were the only one! Even if a client only spends $20 with you, don’t ruin your chances for a future high-end sale and risk your reputation by treating them like second-class customers. Serve them well and honor every cent they spend with you!

SabineQuote28. Never hassle your prospects or clients.
On the opposite end of not following up lies the habit of following up incessantly whether by phone, auto-responder, or personal email. Give your prospects and clients room to breathe, and don’t flood their inboxes or voicemail. Never contact your prospects or clients more than once a week unless you are responding to a direct request for information.

9. Stay organized.
Another mistake I see many business owners make is to lose track of who they made contact with and when. Make sure you have a system in place to store your contact list for leads and current clients, including the dates of your most recent interactions, what was discussed, and suggested follow-up dates. There are Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools on the market to help you facilitate this. Some of the free tools available are Insightly, Zoho, and freeCRM, just to name a few.

10. Not sure when to follow up? Ask!
Let’s say you are having a sales conversation and your prospect seems undecided. Don’t just let them hang up the phone or walk away—ask them when would be a good date to follow up with them and then do it.

If you have specific questions about follow-ups, feel free to comment below and I will be happy to provide you with an answer. Also, make sure to check out the other articles on our blog to learn more about how you can attract more customers and earn their long-term loyalty.

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