Amanda Johns is this weeks contributor. She is an expert speaker, sales coach and trainer from the professional sales consulting division of the Southwestern Company- Southwestern Consulting.
The challenge with follow-up is not that we don’t know how to do it; it is that we know we should do it and just don’t.
It is not that we don’t think follow up is important… We know it is important, but it is scheduling the time to do it, remembering to do it, worrying “are we being bothersome”. So how much is too much? When should we follow-up, and for what? Or what if we don’t have a reason? And really I think the key to having an effective follow-up system is to manage it as part business and part personal.
Part of it is your “relationship follow-up”, as much as it is your “business follow-up”. Let’s be honest, the way business is today you have to follow-up and you have to be in front of your client. To really have that long term business, you really need to have a relationship with your client… So if you’re not talking to them every week and they are not your best friend, then the best way to do that is to constantly be in front of them, on a daily weekly, monthly, or quarterly basis.
Here are 5 key ideas to helping systemize follow-up:
1. The first idea to follow-up is self explanatory, schedule it. Just schedule your follow-ups. When you talk to someone, as soon as you hang up the phone, you should be scheduling out the next call or the next time that you need to follow-up with them in your day planner, outlook, or in any other sort of CRM that you use, its a gold mind. I don’t even care if it is a spreadsheet, but as soon as you leave a meeting or you hang up the phone call, the first thing that you should do is schedule in your calendar the next time you are going to reach out to them. I don’t care if it is a meeting, a phone call, a card, or even an email; schedule it the second you hang up. Because if you don’t do it, well, we know what happens, we don’t schedule it and we then forget. And two months goes by and you are like, “man I completely forgot I was supposed to follow-up with them.” When you follow-up, when you actually verbally say you will, it makes a big difference in your prospects’ recognition of your reliability. So the first idea is to schedule it.
2. The second idea is to send thank you cards. Not just thank you cards, but send “cards – cards”. Whether it be a holiday card, an anniversary card, maybe you send a birthday card, it doesn’t matter. This is that personal touch we were talking about. The first key “scheduling it” is the business touch, that is logical and strategic. The second touch is the personal side, you are trying to build a relationship. Now, my favorite way if sending cards is using, Send Out Cards. You take an hour one time a year and you schedule your card follow- up for the rest of the year. You enter in their information, their address, you pick out a card and then Send Out Cards sends these cards, physical cards, out for you for the rest of the year. You don’t even need to think about it again. However, hand written thank you cards are still very important. After, you first have an initial meeting, send a hand written thank you card; it shows detail, it shows that you want to have an involvement, or that you are relationship oriented. Those little things make a big difference when it comes to follow-up.
3. The third step in follow up is using social media. Some of you may be reluctant to using social media, but like it or not that is we’re we are heading. It is the wave of the future and this is personalized. Most of you have probably heard this statistic before if you have been to our conference, but the second fastest growing group of people that is on Facebook is seventy and older. Social Media is touching all generations, you can either jump on the bandwagon or you can resist it until you don’t have a choice anymore. The nice thing about social media is that you can give up to date information. Your constantly in front of the people that you are connected to on a minute-by-minute basis. If you post something, anyone that gets on to that network are going to see you every single day that they are on there. Every single time that they log on they are going to see your face and your name. That is the kind of interaction that we want to have in today’s market. It does not matter if it is not specifically relative. Maybe you are just posting a good summary from an article or a motivational quote, you just want to be in front of people as often as possible.
4. The fourth idea to follow-up is monthly touches…preferably, in an email. Paper mailings are more expensive and they are kind of going extinct. Because of the eco-friendly environment that we are living in and also they just tend to get lost in the clutter. Not that emails and e-zines don’t, but they are cheaper and they have a faster delivery time. Sending a monthly email, whether it be an easing, a company newsletter, or maybe you did a blog posting once a month that you send out to everybody to get more information, but having that monthly business appeal makes a big difference to you client. So, if you are in financial services, sending out a monthly update on what the market is doing and what is going on in the industry, is probably slightly relevant to the majority of your client base; but in taking that extra effort to send out information that is important to your client. Send out a monthly newsletter or e-zine of some sort.
5. The fifth idea is telephone all of your current client base, if you don’t talk to them on a regular bases, you need to. I am not saying that you need to call them every month, you don’t. But you do need to make a habit of making a personal phone call to every single one of your clients on a quarterly bases. Don’t let the whole year go by without talking to your client, because probably what is going to happen is that somebody else has been calling them every month and before you know it they are not going to be your client anymore. It has happened to me and I have done it to people, but whoever is going to be in front of you is who you are going to work with. Make sure that you are always the one in front of your client.
Those are the five key ideas of adding some systematic follow-up. It is using Outlook, scheduling it, sending out cards or using SendOutCards if that works for you. It is social media, sending a monthly news letter or email and a quarterly phone call. I hope at least one of those ideas works for every single one of you out there and I’m wishing you a lot of good luck in your follow-up. For more information on tips for follow-up, or to secure your own sales coach, please visit www.southwesternconsulting.com.