7 Ideas for Improving Your Follow-up Process
See if this sounds familiar… you attend a conference where you, once again, prove your ability as a networker. You meet a number of potential clients (a.k.a. “sales prospects”), have several solid conversations and collect a pocketful of business cards. All-in-all, not bad!
Then you return to the office and are diligent about sending out the “nice to meet you” emails as soon as you can. And then… crickets! No one responds or says they’re looking for a new vendor. At best, you get a few “nice to meet you, too” responses – but nothing more.
When that happens – and it always happens – what do you do?
If you’re like most businesspeople (and even a large percentage of salespeople), you don’t do anything. You stop communicating. You’re uncomfortable with multiple follow-ups – afraid you’re going to annoy the prospects – and then rationalize that they’re “not interested.” Too bad.
Whoever said business development was a “one touch” process? The #1 key to success in securing new clients is consistent and frequent follow-up. You can’t know what’s going on with your prospects when you send that first note – what’s happening at their office, where they are in the buying process or even what’s happening in their personal lives – so why stop the process after one touch?
Instead, consider these seven ideas for a more effective follow-up process:
- Before you do anything else, take every business card and enter the data into your CRM or sales database. From this point forward, they should receive your monthly e-newsletter (or whatever on-going communications program you employ).
- Your first follow-up note should be customized, based on the conversation you had with each prospect – referencing the details of that conversation, the products or services they showed some interest in, even a personal tidbit they may have shared with you. For example…
- Instead of: “John, it was nice meeting you at the ABC Conference last week. I’d like to schedule a follow-up call to continue our conversation.”
- Try: “John, it was nice meeting you at the ABC Conference last week and chatting over drinks. I appreciate you sharing with me the challenges regarding your latest ad campaigns. As we discussed, let’s schedule a follow-up conversation so I can walk you through the new Concept Testing platform that we recently launched.”
Remember, each prospect also met with many people at the conference… and the more specific your note is, the more they will remember their conversation with you.
- At the same time you’re sending out that first email, go ahead and schedule the next follow-up activity a few days later (in case you don’t hear back from them – which you probably won’t!); likewise, when you send the second follow-up note, schedule the third follow-up right then and there… and so on. Do this in your CRM or online calendar.
- Don’t use the same email body copy or subject line for each email. Switch it up. Put a little effort into it.
- Remember to also reach out to connect with each prospect on LinkedIn. And don’t use the generic LinkedIn invitation text – reference your conversation at the conference in your invitation.
- Not all follow-up activities should be salesy emails. Consider a handwritten note, a phone call or sending them an article that might interest them.
- Most importantly, get comfortable with the notion that follow-up is a multi-step process… and that it could take 3, 4, 5 or more touches until you have an answer from the prospect (even if that answer is ‘no’). Be gentle… but be persistent. You’re not trying to pester them, but to stay on their radar as they’re working their way through the buying process.
Also, an effective follow-up process doesn’t just happen after a conference… but should also be put in place after your first sales call, after a capabilities presentation, after you’ve submitted a bid, after someone downloads one of your white papers, after someone attends your webinar and so on.
The Bottom Line: The big problem with follow-up is this… the vast majority of people who have responsibility for doing it just give up. They get tired of trying to stay on top of the process, or get wrapped up in some other day-to-day work (actually, that’s just an excuse) or go chase the ‘shiny new penny’ – that hot new sales lead that just came in. The fact is… they just get lazy!
But, if you can develop the mindset that multiple follow-up touch points are critical to success… and commit to creating and implementing a disciplined follow-up program, you will achieve a level of new client acquisition you’ve never reached before.
Need a few other tips for helping your sales efforts? Join us for our upcoming webinar, 10 Smart Selling Ideas for the Part-time MR Salesperson. We present it several times during the year. Learn more at www.CupOfCoffeeWebinars.com.