Follow-up can mean the difference between fleeting and lasting relationships

In business, as with life, building relationships with care, understanding and respect can yield immeasurable benefits. Follow-up is an integral part of relationship building. It’s the shout-out, the “what’s up,” the “I’m here for you” that helps reassure both prospective and current clients that you are thinking of them.

Terry L. Green, president of BizEase Support Solutions, points out: “Follow-up involves all aspects of your business, from following up with prospective new clients, to making sure you are set on a path to success once you land them. That’s why you should make sure you have follow-up procedures in place and that they become part of your routine.”

There are numerous opportunities to follow up, and you should seize them all:

  • After a networking event, stay connected with the people who made a difference to you. They likely will make a difference to your business. Use of online social media is a given; it is the most efficient method of sharing your experiences, photos and business tips. However, there is no substitute for a handwritten note to thank an individual for his or her time and attention, and to say that you look forward to meeting again.
  • When contacted by potential clients for more information, send it right away. Then call or e-mail to see if they need anything else. Also, send a thank-you-for-contacting-me note … written … by hand.
  • After landing a client, send a personalized welcome kit. In addition to information on your business policies and procedures, you might want to include a list of frequently asked questions (for the client who thought he asked everything but realized he hadn’t). The kit also should contain a gift and note … again, handwritten.

Your mother was right to stand over you while you wrote thank-you notes for the gifts you had received. Taking the time to put your appreciation in writing tells your clients that you are willing to put in the extra effort to show them you care.

Remember that follow-up is a process as well as a practice.

  • Respond promptly. Your chance of speaking with a decision maker increases if your response time decreases. Common wisdom seems to suggest a standard of responding the same day or hour you receive an inquiry. However, studies show that responding within five minutes of receipt of the inquiry increases ninefold the chance of turning the prospect into a convert. Do it now; later might be way too late.
  • Follow up every single lead. Log them as soon as they arrive and assign them for immediate follow-up. Don’t expect the magic to happen with a single email. It can take as many as 13 touches to get from initial contacts and intermediaries to the person who makes the decision to buy.
  • Measure your process and track your progress. This is where an automated follow-up platform comes in handy. According to Annuitas, a demand generation strategy firm, businesses that use automated marketing experience a 451 percent increase in qualified leads. Leads can be scored and messaging targeted by providing prospects with customized content based on their behaviors and implied preferences. How many leads do you get in a week? How long does it take to respond? How many of them become qualified prospects or customers? What works well for you? What doesn’t? Modify any aspect of your process that needs it, and then check your progress again in a few months.
  • Keep your mailing list updated. Your client information should be current and reflect any major changes, such as a geographical move, job change or marital status. Automation helps here by clearing your database of those who haven’t been responding to emails, as well as duplicates and outdated information. Oh … and you might want to know whether or not that person is still alive. One can only imagine how annoying it must be to keep getting mail for somebody who has been dead for more than a decade.

Follow-up is a valuable tool, not only for tracking the progress of your business, but also for learning more about your clients and increasing their familiarity and comfort with you. Those who enjoy a solid relationship with you are apt to send you referrals, vouch for your credibility and strengthen your reputation.

So before you congratulate yourself on another client qualified or deal closed, you would be well served to remember that these folks are crucial to the survival and growth of your business. Before you order a celebratory cake, send them a thoughtful and diligent follow-up.

Discover Publications can help you make those connections (on which you must follow up). Give us a call at (877) 872-3080.

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