Your marketing efforts seem to be generating strong interest, but do you feel you’re missing the mark on the sales end? If converting marketing efforts into sales is a challenge, it’s time to look at how you follow up with potential clients.
It seems like such a small step from marketing to sales, but the more we focus on herding clients to our doors, the less aware we may be of following up properly to make the final jump from marketing to closing the deal. Follow up consistently, and you will move more potential clients closer to the sale while developing your sales skills.
The Marketing to Sales Transition. Let’s assume you have a great marketing strategy that is generating interest in your business. Prospective clients are more informed about and familiar with your services and are warming up to the idea of doing business. Someone contacts you, indicating interest in learning more about your services, or you spoke with someone at a networking event and exchanged business cards. The steps you take now to continue to market yourself during this transition period, before asking for the sale, are crucial to your success in closing the deal.
Follow up with your prospect within 24 to 48 hours. But before you make that call, take the time and the necessary steps to facilitate the goal of getting the meeting and, eventually, closing the deal.
Make Follow Up Routine. Heading off to a networking event in the evening? Be sure to allot time the next morning to follow up with prospects. In fact, try to schedule some follow up activity every day. You can always follow up with current clients if there are no new prospects on the horizon, or take some time to research target prospects.
Do Your Research. You’ve received a call or are holding a business card in your hand. What’s your first step? Visit their website to learn more about their business. Do you see a specific or potential need your business can meet? If your prospect doesn’t have a website, you might ask a mutual acquaintance for information. If you have little or no information, make a note to ask your prospect to tell you more about their business and what they do.
Always Add Value. Think about how you can add value to your prospect’s business through your services. If there is a specific need or concern you can meet, make note of that. Also note how you can meet that need and how the prospect will benefit. For example, a prospect has shared a concern about implementing a new inventory system. When you follow up, cite their concern about inventory, and then say that you “would like to share some ideas about the inventory control systems we’ve implemented for others to reduce their loss and to allow them to more quickly restock.” Don’t be afraid to add value to every call and email. Remind yourself that your service is valuable to your clients and future prospects. If the issue is outside your area of expertise, consider partnering with someone who has more experience with that issue. Or, at least, give a referral or recommendation for someone you know that can help.
Script it! Now that you have some research under your belt, and you’ve made some notes, write it down and craft a message that sounds natural. Write a warm salutation. Reintroduce yourself and touch upon how you met. Note the prospect’s concern for an issue (or note an area your services could strengthen). Offer to share your ideas about your service. Add value—what you’ve done for others and how it could directly benefit the prospect. Then ask the prospect for a 60 to 90 minute appointment.
Practice it if you need to. The more you go through the process, the easier it will become, but it never hurts to have a script—just don’t sound like you’re reading from one when you call. Remember, this is not a sales pitch. Your goal is to get an appointment, or, if the prospect is too busy to schedule, set up a specific day and time to follow up again.
Make the Call. Your next step is to make contact with your client to set up an appointment. Remember, your follow up should occur within 24 to 48 hours of your prospect’s initial contact. Call too soon, and you might not be well prepared. Call too late, and you may appear disinterested. If you fear calling at all, you must work on overcoming your fear of rejection; going through the process above, as well as doing additional work on the value of your services, should help. Pull out your script, take a deep breath, smile, and make the call.
Persist, Respectfully. You may not meet your goal of nailing an appointment on your first follow up with a prospect, but don’t hesitate to follow up again. Remember to always add value with each touch—a brief statement that will give your prospect food for thought. You can also follow up via email and a white paper or a link to a helpful article on your website or other non-competitive site. Wait a bit and follow up with another call. If your efforts go unanswered, make another call expressing regret that you have not been able to connect, add a brief value statement, show respect for their schedule, and provide your phone and email to get in touch at their convenience.