“90% of life is showing up”
I have always loved this quote by Woody Allen and I happen to believe it is very true and also has application to my article today. You could almost say, “90% of business success is following up”. It is just amazing to me how many entrepreneurs don’t follow-up with prospective clients. They may feel they are making lots of calls and having a lot of meetings, but if you aren’t following up and getting people to buy-it’s just a lot of nice prospects-no business. Often times you have a great first meeting; the prospective client seems very interested but wants to: (pick one) think about it, talk to their spouse, check with their accountant etc.
How do you follow up with perspective clients or customers after you’ve had the initial first meeting and there seems to be some interest in your product or service? What do you say?How quickly should you follow up? Three days, four? Should you e-mail or call? Here are some suggestions that may help answer some of these questions:
1-One of the first things to consider during your initial meeting with the prospective client who seems interested and excited about your product or service is to ASK them if they are ready to sign up with you today. So many times, we don’t ask for the order-which is why our follow-up lists are SO long!
2-When you ask for the order and they say they want to “think about it”, “talk to their spouse”, etc. say, “Great, I can totally understand that-how much time do you need?” Let them pick the time frame-a few days, the weekend-whatever. Then say, “why don’t we set up a quick 10-15 minute check-in meeting (pick whatever day they thought they could have an answer)” and schedule it RIGHT THEN AND THERE. That way, you don’t have to go chasing them to schedule the next meeting. Sometimes just reaching someone can take weeks, by then-they’ve returned to their life and the emotion for your product or service is LONG GONE.
3-If for some reason, #1 and #2 don’t happen and you need to follow-up with them after the initial meeting, send an e-mail on the day you met with them. Thank them for the meeting, then say something like, “As I understand from our meeting today, here are some of the things you’d like to work on”, or “As I understand from our meeting today, here’s some of the things you’d like to see happen in your business”. Then, (because you took GREAT notes during the initial meeting) you list all of them. Tell them you think they are all doable and you look forward to begin tackling them anytime. Ask them what time and day might work in their schedule in the next couple of weeks.
Don’t seem pushy or try to have them pick a day from your choice of two. I think that’s been too overused and potential clients see through that. If you don’t hear back, send another e-mail in three or four days. If you still don’t hear back, you might give a call and probably have to leave a voice mail message. Something like, “Hi Sam, just trying to catch up with you. When you get a chance, give me a call back or shoot me an e-mail with some dates that might work for you to have a quick 15-20 minute meeting”. Keep trying.
I get asked all the time by clients and students-“How many times should I call someone back?” “I don’t want to seem pushy”. In all my years of sales, I have to say, that I have only had a handful of people ever say to me, “Please don’t call me anymore”. What I mostly get is people saying to me, “Thank you SO much for being persistent in your calls. I just get so busy that I can’t seem to find the time to call you back. You kept at it and I’m so glad you did”. Seriously.People are busy and unless you are selling something they need RIGHT AT THE MOMENT (which few of us are), you need to keep in front of them with gentle reminders and an easy way to reconnect with you.
4- What about those stacks of business cards on your desk from previous meetings over the course of the year that you had “hoped” to get to? Here’s a suggestion: Go through them andpick those that you consider the “low-hanging fruit”. Depending on how old they are-you might want to throw away the ones that really aren’t ideal clients or prospects.
Pick 5 a day (which is manageable) and make it part of your morning routine to send these people an e-mail to follow-up and ask for a 15-20 minute phone conversation or face-to-face meeting (depending on your geographic location, and the availability of your client). Ask them specifically what would work in their schedule in the next couple of weeks. You should really start filling your pipeline now with appointments and lots of prospective clients!
5-You have to TAKE ACTION and do the work! Follow-up, follow-up, follow-up. There really is no magic bullet- Remember, the money’s in the follow-up.