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    Don't Be A Drag: Follow-up with prospects and clients without being annoying.
    The Vault

    Don't Be A Drag: Follow-up with prospects and clients without being annoying.

    August 2016

    Many business owners and salespeople are hesitant about making follow-up calls or sending emails for fear of being annoying.  I get it.  No one wants to be seen as annoying or bothersome to their professional contacts, especially when the goal of the follow-up is to get something important or lucrative from them.  But here’s the rub: Sales don’t come from silence.  You are never going to make your sales goals if you don’t properly follow up with potential and existing clients.  Ever.  

    There is a fine line between efficient follow-up and being a pest, and a great distinction between providing a generic follow-up and one that is memorable and effective.  When it comes to follow-up, the question isn’t if you should, but how you should.

    How do you strike the balance between effective and “non-pesty”?  Your strategy is simple: Communicate better so that your contacts make you a priority instead of an afterthought (or annoying chore). Here are a few ideas:

    1. Stand out by being you.  A lot of people, including some of your direct competitors, are trying to follow up with your contact. Most emails will go like this: “It was nice talking with you yesterday.  Thank you for your time.  Let me know if I can help you with anything.” Not good! Generic responses like these, if they’re read at all, are not memorable, and do nothing to further your goal. Aim to be more specific by including a brief recap of what was discussed and any decisions that were made.  Feel free to acknowledge personal details that were mentioned, such as  upcoming vacations or anniversaries.  Doing so sets the contact’s mind on you as a person, not just a salesperson.  Allow your unique personality to set the tone of your follow-up and help set you apart from everyone else’s stock email.
    2. Use multiple contact methods.  Some people are emailers, some are phone talkers.  If your email has gone unanswered, pick up the phone and call your contact.  Maybe even drop in for a visit.  Just be respectful of your contact’s busy times when you do, and don’t call or visit during those times.

      Also, do not underestimate the power of a handwritten thank-you note.  Handwritten notes are pretty rare these days yet people’s positive responses to them are the same as they ever were.   Don’t rely solely on them, but seriously consider using them as part of your overall strategy.
    3. Find another excuse to get in touch. Follow-ups don’t have to focus solely on the sale. If your contact seemed interested in a certain topic when you spoke, send along helpful content you find related to that interest (particularly if you or someone in your firm has written a blog or published article that topic). Help them network by passing along any contacts who might be able to help them with different aspects of their business, or who they may be able to pitch to themselves. You’ll gain immediate respect when you position yourself as a provider of value, a friend and ally, not just someone trying to sell something. Avoid the “have you made a decision yet?” approach.
    4. Don’t try too hard.  Too many calls and follow-up emails will make you seem pushy and, worst of all, desperate.  Try not to give the impression that this particular contact is your one and only big hope for sales.  Business owners and managers want to do business with successful vendors who are are confident in what they do, not those who are desperate for the next close.   Remember, even if you don’t close the deal this time, that doesn’t mean you can’t in the future.   Maintaining a cordial, customer-focused approach will secure a good impression and leave the door open for a relationship down the road.

    Proper follow-up is important, and is one of the keys to sales success. Consider these approaches the next time you’re reaching out to potential clients.


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