opinion

Follow Up the Right Way

Joe D

I saw that marketing automation company Infusionsoft was writing about follow-up recently, and while so much of this type of advice is just common sense, it seems we can never have enough reminder and reinforcement…

You know that focused intelligent marketing follow-up is vital to your success, so here is a simple sequence to follow likely to yield good results. Make sticking to your follow up procedure of paramount importance and track results…

Follow up immediately.

If a prospective client expresses interest in your company or services don’t let them slip away – start on the foundation for a relationship right away.

Schedule the frequency of your follow-up.

The timing of your follow-up can be critical to developing a relationship that builds toward closing the sale. If your follow-up is inconsistent or disjointed, your prospect may forget who you are. On the flip side, if you are too aggressive, tend toward pushy, or neglect to consider individual personality traits [which can be a challenge through email and IM] you are setting yourself up for failure. Communications should be carefully considered - timing is everything - and calculated to increase prospect interest and motivation. For so many of us with ample competition, it is essential to have a high profile on the day the prospect makes the purchase decision – they may just go with the person in front of them at the moment, so always keep this in mind.

Chances are, if you are really dealing with the decision maker, you are working with a very busy person. Depending on the up-front educational needs for your particular product or service – hone your message to the most succinct you can manage while providing the essential information necessary to advance the conversation. Consider in these emails that less is always more.

Manage prospect expectations.

Once again, depending on your product or service, communication needs vary across the continuum. In my case, it is often necessary to send powerpoint files for board review and implementation APIs for technical review that can be up to 3mb each. Not only does your prospect need to be warned about the assault on their inbox, you also need confirmation that they have received the files – not had them rejected by protective systems or relegated to the junk folder. I always start off with a general email setting a foundation for what we do and outlining what emails will follow, what they will contain, and why the prospect WANTS to receive and review them.

The premise should always be prospect benefit ;-) and you really should consider yourself an educator in this phase of the relationship. Your overall knowledge of the industry or relevant vertical and command of a beneficial network should combine with how you tie your product or service in with the your prospect’s needs and goals. Knowing how their needs and goals interact with the broader industry requirements for success, and communicating how you can be the solution enabling their goal attainment, greatly improves your chances of sparking interest and ultimately succeeding as well.

Engage in permission-based strategies.

We all operate utilizing different methods, and how successfully you can establish a mode of communication before mailing, the better. Obviously trade shows are a big expense, but often indispensable in terms of making first contacts in person. I’ve found very little success with initial cold mails, and the phone is not always much better without a prior contact. It all depends on what you are selling, and if trust is a big part of your client relationship – that takes time to develop…

Building an established network is a priceless undertaking, as having a contact make an email introduction on your behalf can ensure that your follow-up email will at least be read and given consideration. How many of you have found this strategy successful?

Before you mail someone, try to have their permission to do so – don’t be labeled a spammer. You don’t want that to get around. When you’re at a speed-networking event or networking at shows, ask if you can send some information, follow-up with an email or call, or even try for a personal office visit – that’s always the best option.

Remain persistent.

They say that while 80% of your potential clients may not be ready to commit to you today, they will make the purchase decision within two years. It’s a numbers game, and the key is to be present and accounted for on the day they decide to commit. There’s always a little luck involved, but you have to be consistently out there – dare I say ‘in their face’ - to capitalize on all the time spent in relationship development. Scheduled follow-up and your own personal reminders, whether through your own system or through software including Salesforce, can really aid in this endeavor. And don’t just keep following up on the same email string – vary your approach in terms of perspective as well as the vehicle. Hit them with email, through Linked-in, Facebook, Twitter, industry forums and networks, phone – just always be on the horizon, but not annoyingly so, and you’ll be positioned to get close when their needs and goals finally include what you can provide.

If you’re looking for better response rates, and more closed deals, include these ideas in your follow up sequencing, and if you’ve got some good tips of your own, share them! There’s still plenty of potential and opportunity out there.

Cheers to your success!

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