Every time I give a marketing workshop or talk to a new coaching client, I hear the question: “Aren’t I bugging people if I keep following up with them?”
The answer is no. The only circumstances under which you would ever be “bugging” prospective clients would be if they’ve already told you they are not at all interested in what you offer, or asked you specifically to stop contacting them. In any other situation, your continued contact with a potential client is not only acceptable, it is often welcome.
Do you consistently follow up with prospective clients? If you don’t, you may be wasting the effort you made to get those prospects into your marketing pipeline in the first place.
Too many self-employed professionals limit their view of follow-up to calling a prospect on the phone or sending them an email, asking if they are ready to buy, sign up, or get started. But effective follow-up entails much more than that. And, it can be much easier on your psyche than those challenging calls and emails.
When you think of follow-up as nothing more than making those scary contacts asking for business, you may find yourself avoiding them, delaying them, or always finding “better” things to do.
No one works for themselves without hearing about follow-up. However, in the context of networking, do you know what it means to follow up, whether or not it really matters, and why?
Here are the short answers to these questions:
- What does it mean to follow up? It means you contact people you’ve met.
- Does it matter? Yes.
- Why? Because in many cases, if you don’t follow up, the other person won’t either, and you’ll have lost a potential avenue for business, a referral partner, or the opportunity to serve the world with your business services. You’ll have also lost a chance to truly connect with someone.
It’s easy to think you’ll go to a networking event, talk with a few people, hand out your card, and they’ll call you when they’re ready to do business. Most of the time, though, it doesn’t work that way.
You know you need to follow up with prospective clients, but you often find yourself putting it off. “I already called them three times,” you think. Or, “They never answer my emails anyway.” Or, “I hate hearing no.” Or, “I don’t want to bug them.” Or, “What do I say that’s new?”
It’s only natural to resist placing phone calls or sending more emails to prospects who didn’t return your last call, never seem to reply, may not be ready to buy, or might say they’re not interested. But here’s the good news. Calling and emailing prospects and asking them to hire you is not the only way to follow up!
Yes, you can call or email your prospects and ask if they’re ready to work with you, but you can also send a letter or note by postal mail, overnight them a package, send a text message, tweet them, tag them on social media, or instant message them online. And those are just different communication channels you might use. The type of messages you deliver can be much more varied than simply asking prospects to do business.
Follow-up may be the most underrated marketing technique in existence. Self-employed professionals spend an enormous amount of time and money on attracting or meeting people who might do business with them. They build websites, go to networking events, purchase ads, set up social media profiles, and more. But marketing activities like these are aimed at making contact with new potential clients for the first time. Follow-up is missing from the picture.
You’ve probably heard the following truths about marketing and sales before:
- People prefer to do business with people they know, like, and trust.
- It takes five to seven contacts with a prospect to close a sale.
- Marketing is a process; not an event.