What I’ve learned and observed from all the years I’ve been in business and the many clients I’ve coached and consulted with is that most people hate following up.
There are many reasons people dread it – everything from not knowing how, not understanding the long-term client/customer acquisition process, feeling like you’re annoying the recipient (not!), or not knowing what to say, or how often.
Think for a moment about the process of going from being interested in something to buying that something. It varies every time, but how often do you inquire about something you’re not ready to purchase yet? For most of us, pretty often.
And, too often, business owners make the mistake of wanting to close the deal now – or else. The ‘or else’ often looks like the big void. Some people don’t even follow up on initial inquiries, which blows my mind.
When someone inquires, your job is to ask questions, find out what they’re looking for and why. Find out what’s involved in their decision making process and if they’re looking to make a decision soon, or if they’re just considering your product or service.
Either is fine. Why? Because you’ll need new customers and clients next month, next quarter and next year. Whether or not they’re buying today, what’s important is that they’re interested in what you offer or you wouldn’t be in the conversation in the first place. So invest a little time and energy into finding out about what they’re looking and why they called (or wrote, or sent carrier pigeons to your door…).
Sure, you’d like them to buy now, but it’s about them and their needs, not about you and yours.
And, there’s the crux of the matter. It’s all about them. The minute you make it all about you, you lose – a little or a lot, but you lose.
If you turn your attention to them, you win. You gain the opportunity to market to them over time, build trust, let them get to know you and ideally – when they’re ready to buy, they will buy from you.
Follow Up Over Time – Personally or Automatically
Keeping in touch over time, either personally – which is usually a better bet if you offer higher ticket items and have fewer people to be in touch with – or by autorepsonder if you’re connecting with a lot of people will win you business over time.
I have been using autoresponders for years and I can’t tell you how many people have told me they decided to do business with me because I stayed in touch and delivered value over time.
Two things you can do right away: integrate long term follow-up into your marketing strategy and be sure you follow up quickly when people reach out to you.
I got a call from a prospect this week who became a client. He told me I didn’t turn up in his first search for a copywriter, but the copywriters who did wouldn’t return his phone calls or respond to his emails. In my book, that’s insanity, especially if you’re spending money to get people to find your and reach out.
Prospect calls are money calls, why wouldn’t you answer those? It begins there. Respond quickly, even if you’re not available right away. Let them know when you will be. Set an appointment and show up on time.
Have a follow up process that includes finding out about their needs. It gives you a chance to learn about them and see whether you’re a good fit for one another and it also allows you to demonstrate expertise. It’s good for you, good for them and ultimately good for you bank account.