You are not going to make many sales if you don't properly follow up with both prospective and existing clients. Many business owners and salespeople are hesitant about making that call or sending that email, though, either for fear of being rejected or fear of being annoying.
Follow-up doesn't have to be awkward, and it certainly doesn't have to be annoying. To help you close more customers and increase the lifetime value of your clients, here are 10 tips for following up with people without being annoying.
- Be unique. There are probably a lot of people, including some of your direct competitors, trying to follow up with your client. And many of them are going to be saying roughly the same thing: thank you for your time, it was nice talking with you, let me know if I can help you with everything. Such generic responses are not very helpful, and not very memorable. Instead, be specific with them and let your unique personality help set you apart.
- Provide a recap. If you are following up on a teleconference or a face-to-face meeting, include a brief recap of was discussed and any decisions that were made. This helps refresh their memory and reinforce your points, and makes sure you are on the same page before continuing the conversation.
- Provide value. Follow-ups should not be focused on your needs, and don't always have to be focused on business. If your client has mentioned an interest in a certain topic, send along helpful content you find related to that interest. Or, you can pass along any networking contacts who might be able to help them with a different aspect of their business, or who they may be able to pitch to themselves. By doing so, you solidify your position as a friend and ally.
- Be considerate of their time. It is totally possible to catch someone with the right message at the wrong time. So be smart with your follow-up scheduling, especially if dealing with them over the phone or in person. For example, if your client runs a restaurant, don't contact them during busy meal times.
- Use the method they prefer. Some people hate dealing with email; others dislike talking on the phone. A few may even prefer that you drop by in person, or send hand-written thank you notes through snail mail. Obviously, you will get the best response if you use their favorite communication channel. Don't know what they prefer? Start making it a habit to ask.
- Be organized. It is hard to be specific, provide value and keep track of the preferences of each client if you are not organized and have a way to keep notes. Customer relationship management and marketing automation software can help you manage a large client list.
- Don't wait. The longer you wait to follow up, the more likely it is that they will have forgotten what you have discussed--or have decided to go with another supplier in the meantime. A slow response time is one of the major causes of lost sales.
- Don't be desperate. Being too concerned with making a sale to one particular client can lead you to contact them too often and come across as pushy--or simply desperate. People don't like doing business with someone who is desperate; they want to work with someone who is successful enough to be confident.
- Don't take it personal. Sometimes you will lose a customer or fail to make an important sale. Remember that, generally speaking, they are saying "no" to your product or service; they are not rejecting you as a person. This will allow you to be much more cordial and customer-focused, and keep such setbacks from affecting how you interact with other clients. It will also help you realize that you may still be able to do business with them at some point in the future.
- Do it. Failing to follow up with someone at all can be just as annoying. According to one source, nearly half of salespeople never follow up with prospects, while 80 percent of all sales happen after the fourth follow-up call.
Proper follow-up is important, and is one of the keys to sales success. Follow these tips, and you will improve the effectiveness of your follow-up program.
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