5 Essential Guidelines for an Effective Follow Up Strategy
Marketing and sales strategies come and go, as they should, over time and for many reasons. Some reasons that effect changes in marketing and sales approaches include: business focus or goals, industry trends, technology, investment plans, marketplace demands or consumer expectations.
When it comes to any marketing or sales strategy, there’s one critical component I cannot recommend strongly enough: constant (and relevant) communication with prospects and clients. There are various terms that are used to refer to this, from ‘engagement’ to ‘relationship building’ to ‘nurturing.’ One of the best is contact management.
Establishing and building connections with others is as essential to my business as I am. It is for yours, too. I especially enjoy talking with people face-to-face because it allows me to better understand a person and their business—and it gives me the chance to more quickly see if the other person needs my services. This face-time also allows the other person to get to know me and, most importantly, remember me. In many instances, such meetings are the beginning of a longer term business relationship.
Building relationships doesn’t begin and end with face-to-face meetings. There are so many different communications paths that are available today that will strengthen your ability to stay in touch with your contacts. There is email, social media, text messaging, and, the less often used, a phone call. It doesn’t matter how—all you need is a consistent flow of communication between you and your customer.
This type of market engagement and contact management is a lot to plan and execute well. It often seems daunting and the challenges swirl around knowledge, time, technology and money. A lot of us – business owners, sales personnel, executives – don’t even get so far as to check off the box of whether we do it well or not. For many, it’s a question of whether it even gets done.
I’m a member of a local network group whose membership is largely made up of corporate executives, industry leaders, and entrepreneurs. This past month, I had quite a surprise at the meeting. Following the speaker’s presentation there was open discussion and one of the attendees asked, “How many in this room believe that they do effective follow up, either with prospects or with clients?” My surprise? In a room of almost 50 people who either owned their own firms or were executive leaders, not one person raised their hand. Not one!
Opportunity – and probable income – lost!
This story does prove the point of just how tough it is to follow through with strong, ongoing engagement with those in your client community. So what can one do about this and avoid missing out on future opportunities for new clients, that next contract or referrals?
Here are a few of my favorite contact management mantras to ensure the flow of communication between me and my clients.
Vary the types of communication and timing of interactions
There’s a fine line between communicating and selling—and it’s one you need to walk carefully. The quickest way to an unsubscribe or a “thank you, but no thanks, maybe in the future,” is through a never-ending stream of promotional mailings or calls. No one wants to hear sales pitch after sales pitch.
Instead, send your contacts a variety of informational emails, newsletters, videos, articles, inspirational imagery, how-to steps, resource links, etc. It’s about educating as well as nurturing, all while you are influencing and building your own brand awareness. Do this over a period of time, interspersing promotional offers and targeted information to your most engaged audience members. Cycles of engagement and conversion are months, if not years, in the making.
Adjust the frequency of touches according to your preference and schedule
You may have heard people talk about the number of communication touches required before a prospect converts into a customer. There are varying stats about the recommended number of touches that will lead to conversion—I’ve heard everything from 7 to, more recently, 15!
The truth, however, is there is no magic number. You’ll see better results if you develop effective communication actions that make sense for you, your business, and the prospects and clients you serve.
Effective communication must be done in a continuous and consistent manner. Consistency is what establishes trust and keeps you in the forefront of your contacts’ minds.
You can stay on schedule and successfully execute your follow up strategy with such planning tools* as:
- An editorial & marketing calendar (Download a sample, ready-to-use calendar here: http://www.levelupsolutions.info/samplecalendar/)
- A customer relationship management (CRM) system (Insightly, Highrise, Contactually, Salesforce)
- A marketing automation system (Infusionsoft, Hatchbuck, Ontraport)
These tools will lend structure to your follow up communications and help maximize your marketing effectiveness and drive sales—I highly recommend using all three.
*These are more well-known or commonly used applications and intended to be examples of tools to explore.
The goal of any contact management plan is to maintain and deepen connections. Here are a few ways to add a personal touch to the following communication scenarios:
- After meeting a contact for the first time: Send a follow-up message a day or two after the initial meeting. The communication you send should be a nice, short note with a few relevant details about the in-person conversation you had.
- Continuing a connection for the long-term: Send your contacts useful and targeted information periodically using communication avenues suited to your prospects and clients. Email is the most frequently used way to stay in touch but you can also maintain the relationship by adding comments, likes or shares to their posts on social media. And, don’t forget that writing a nice, long-hand note and sending it through the U.S. mail is also a way that could make you stand out in others’ minds.
- Getting in touch with a past client: Follow up with a telephone call to check in on how things are going for them. Be sure to leave a voicemail if you don’t get through. You’d be surprised how many people will be thrilled to hear from you and will remember you for taking the time to reach out in such a direct manner.
Believe that people want to hear from you
All networking, marketing, and selling efforts will be for naught if you do not establish a solid relationship with prospects and clients. An email or newsletter here or there won’t cut it—you need a clear, executable strategy to build and maintain that relationship. And, to make that work effectively for your business, you must remember that people want to know who you are, what you stand for, and how you can make their life easier. You have to believe this and not be shy about following up with them. Stand strong in the value you have to offer and get your message out.
Not sure how to plan and implement a more systematic approach to your contact management and follow up? Let’s talk about some more simple steps that will increase your contact engagement and establish a stronger, more influential position within your marketplace. Contact me today!