I'm a great believer in building strong relationships with my potential and existing clients. We all know that strong relationships take time to build and nurture. It's not an overnight process. Yet I see so many people spending a lot of time and energy to make the initial contact, to meet new people at networking meetings, to get introductions, to get referrals, and then they don't do anything with those relationships. And the opportunities are just sitting there going to waste.
Failing to follow up is leaving money on the table
That client that hasn't got back to you after 2 weeks? Don't automatically assume that she doesn't want to work with you. People are busy. They probably have hundreds of emails sitting in their inbox waiting to be dealt with and they don't see you as their top priority right now. This is why you need to communicate with them to keep you at the top of their mind.
I know many of you worry that you are going to annoy people by following up. If you feel this way, I'm willing to bet that it's because you think of following-up as chasing business, as persuading people to work with you, to buy from you. This negative mindset comes from a place of lack, a place of chasing something you don't have, and it makes you feel needy and desperate, and that's what puts a lot of people off from following up.
I want you to change the way you feel about following up. Think of it as helping and adding value to your prospects. So instead of just asking your potential clients whether they'd like to work with you, buy from you or whatever it is you want them to do, which does carry a risk of annoying them, follow up in a helpful way.
Add value when you follow up
Let me give you an example. Let's say you're a business coach. When you follow up, don't just say "I haven't heard back from you yet. I wonder if you've made a decision" blah blah blah. Instead, give value and be helpful. So if you have a free webinar coming up, you could mention this and provide a link to sign up, and mention why this is relevant. Or you can send a link to a case study you have on your blog and addresses one of the pain points your potential client is experiencing. Or you can say "I came across this article and thought of you. I think you'll find the advice in the third paragraph really useful."
If you follow up from a place of being of service, your clients will thank you. Put it another way, if you genuinely believe that you can help your clients improve their lives, you will be doing them a disservice if you don't follow up.
I find that when I follow up with clients, most of them thank me for touching base with them and for reminding them to take action.
Categorise your prospects
The next tip I have for you is to separate your prospects into groups. Some people like to categorise them into Hot, Warm and Cold. Other people just name the groups 1, 2 and 3, or A, B and C. It's totally up to you. The purpose of this categorisation is so that you can easily see which step you need to take with each prospect, and at what frequency.
So for example, you may decide to make a personal phone call to your Hot prospect, and send a follow up email to your Warm prospects. Or you may decide to send a physical letter in the post to your highest-priority prospects. This is something you'll need to sit down and decide.
Put a follow-up system in place
Finally, you need to have a system in place to keep a record of your prospects. If you work with a small number of clients, usually a simple spreadsheet will be sufficient. You can have different worksheets for your different categories, keep notes for each individual, and move your prospects from one category to another. You can creates speadsheets using Google Sheets, which is totally free.
If you have a large number of clients, you may need to invest in special software that will help you keep track of all the interactions and work flow.
Either way, it's important that you set aside some time each week to follow up. Don't just do it when you feel like it. Make it a systematic process and do it as part of your marketing strategy. As with everything else, consistency is the key.
Over to you: Make a list of all the clients you haven't followed up. Categorise them accordingly and decide on how you'll interact with them in the upcoming weeks. What added value can you provide in your follow-up communication?