Does your business follow up with your clients and prospects like you should?
You should probably consider what “like you should” means, before deciding whether you follow up properly or not.
Having done that, let’s define “follow up” as continuing the conversation with that particular prospect or client, in exactly the context they are in with your business, in a timeframe that makes sense to the client.
This isn’t about you. It’s about them, where their interests lie, what needs they have right now where they are in the flow of things in their life and/or business. Not where you are.
Let that sink in – this is not about you, what your sales staff has on their mind today, where you are with the month’s cash flow, whether or not you’ve made your weekly nut, etc. Thing is, if you do this right, it’ll help you worry a whole lot less about that last one.
Figure out the right whens
If you’re trying to start doing this right, it would help to start with the basics – identifying when to follow up with your clients and prospects. I call these “touch points” (meaning when to reach out and get/keep in touch), but it might make it easier to think about if you view them as events in the timeline your clients and prospects follow as they meet you, become your client and continue down that path until they are no longer your client.
One more reminder, this is about the right time for them, not you.
Here are a few ideas for touch points:
- Someone becomes a new lead by calling, emailing, filling out a web form, etc.
- Someone clicks on a link in an email.
- An existing lead contacted you for info.
- A lead bought a new product or service.
- A client bought a product or service for a second-nth time.
- A client had an interaction with your service department.
- A client paid a bill on time.
- A client paid a bill late.
- A client paid a bill late for the second/nth time.
- A client fails to buy something on their normal purchase schedule that they used to buy from you on a regular basis.
Take a few minutes to consider what your touch points / events are. You may have a lot more than that, but I would be surprised to find that you had fewer.
Let’s analyze the why behind a couple of these so that my comment “Thing is, if you do this right, it’ll help you worry a whole lot less about that last one” makes more sense.
Think about how things work in your business today.
If a client who usually buys something once a month doesn’t buy this month, are you aware of it?
If you aren’t, it’s possible for them to disappear and stop being a client without your knowledge. How many clients do you have that buy something every month? How many of them disappear each month? Do the math and figure out what that could be costing you.
That’s the possible return on investment of being able to follow up when this event happens.
If this purchase doesn’t happen and you know about it, then you can turn your service or sales team loose to make sure nothing is wrong or that conditions have changed for your client. Maybe they don’t need to continue buying that product or service anymore. So be it, but they may need something else. Or you may have had an unfortunate interaction with them.
Whatever the reason, knowing is a ton better than not knowing. You might find out that you will lose them and can’t do anything about it (changes in their needs, etc), but at least you’ll know.
One more example
If a client pays a bill late, do you grumble and add a service charge to their next bill without any conversation? Does the service charge get added automatically?
There are plenty of ways to talk to a client about a late payment without coming off like a jerk. Maybe they need different payment dates, a different payment method or they just missed the invoice somehow because someone was out sick.
Personal follow ups like these can keep a relationship going for years, rather than letting them sour because of a misunderstanding or lack of knowledge.