To the average self-employed professional, following up with prospective clients feels awkward or even scary. You hate making phone calls that might not be welcome. You think you might be pestering people. You worry about being rejected. You aren’t sure what to say. After all, how many times can you ask, “Are you ready for us to work together?”
I get it. My clients and students share concerns like these with me all the time. I’ve even had them myself.
When you think about following up, does it seem fun to you, or does it seem more like a hassle, a should, or something you wish you wanted to do? Surprisingly — or perhaps not so surprisingly — following up is something that quite a few of us don’t love doing. What if there was a way to make it fun? Read on for ideas on how to follow up in ways that actually sound good to you!
Do It with a Buddy
Pick one of your favorite people to buddy up with and hold each other accountable. Rather than thinking of it as work, think up a fun name for the time you spend together (virtually or in person). For example, you can say things like, “How’s the alligator wrestling going?”
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.