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Important Dos and Don’ts When Following Up With Prospective Clients/Customers

Frank J. Vitale, MBA, Chief Marketing Officer

08.29.22 | Operations Chat

The hard work has already been done. The webinar is over, the first in-person meeting was a day ago, the seminar ended yesterday, or perhaps your email campaign has made its mark and left some impressions. Whatever it is you and your team have done to spark an interest and enhance brand awareness is done, but the work required to attract new business is not over. It’s time for that next crucial step: follow-up. And it is here where many drop the ball and allow all that solid prep work to go for naught.

It might be because you think you need to get back to your regular work activity or you’re afraid of being annoying or coming off as SPAM. It might just be that you are concerned that if you make the attempt you will be tagged as the one who lost a potential client.

Face it. These are all excuses. New clients are the life’s blood of an organization, and effective follow-up is more than a good idea; it’s imperative.

Adjust Your Thinking

Dispense with those negative feelings. You’re following up because you have a product or service that the prospect can use, and most likely needs. Follow-up communications can be used to share an idea or suggestion or provide additional information on something discussed or touched on in your first interaction. If your focus is on communicating information that could have a positive impact on the prospect’s business, you should be confident that it will be well received and set you on a path to building a trusted relationship.

Use Multiple Methods and Keep Them Spaced Out

Within days of your initial contact, a telephone call and/or an email is appropriate. But you can also be creative. If you are connected to the individual through a professional association or LinkedIn, leverage these as well. Ideally, you would have found out their preferred communication method beforehand.

Certainly, you don’t want to be annoying, so space out your communications effectively, unless of course there is a matter that requires immediate attention. You know from your own experience that business decision-making often takes time, and there may be multiple layers of management to deal with. There is no set rule but once a week is likely to be optimum until you have made 2nd contact and reached the next phase in your relationship.

It’s About Them, Not You

In your follow up, the prime directive is: It’s about them. What can you offer that will help? You should know or at least deduce some pain points or industry issues. Address them. Perhaps you discussed an issue or two or even a personal matter. Bring them up as reminders. Look for an article, blog, video, or website that supplements or supports what you previously discussed with the prospect or would like to bring to their attention. Clarify and even ask for more information about the issues that the prospect is facing. As an example: “I hear you are looking for a CFO. I may be able to help. What are the qualifications you expect?”

In short: In every interaction, try to be useful by communicating information that ultimately has value for the prospect.

Don’t Drop the Ball; Control the Next Steps

When establishing and nurturing a new relationship, it is helpful to try to drive the process and do your best to control the series of events that follow. Any time you engage a prospect, before your meeting or conversation ends, make sure that you define the next step. As an example, if the prospect is attending a board meeting next week that will lay out spending for the next few quarters, find out the date and say that you will be in touch a few days later. If you learn that someone else in the organization needs to be involved in deciding whether to use your services, get the name and ask that a meeting be arranged at a time convenient for all. Always part company with a reason to follow up once again.

Be Mindful of your Communication Style

You’re busy…and so are your prospects. In all your interactions, keep it brief. Ask questions that can give you more information about their needs and objectives. And most importantly, be sure to always listen actively, and take notes, so your future communications continue to be on point and resonate with the prospect. In addition to effectively listening, watch for body language. If the prospect is looking away or checking a mobile device, you may have overstayed your welcome or are addressing topics that are of no interest to them. Other important tips include avoiding long and technical emails and/or voice messages as most people likely won’t digest the information effectively, and using these channels will not enable you to provide explanations and assist with any confusion.

When is Enough, Enough?

A study by the sales consulting firm Brevet reveals that 80% of sales require an average of five follow-ups in order to close the deal.1 Contrast this with the fact that 44% of sales representatives follow up with a prospect only once before giving up. The takeaway here is that too many people give up way too early in the game. There is no hard and fast follow-up rule. Five could be a good number as long as you are continually conveying something of value. And if ultimately you feel that interest is not there, mark the prospect down as someone to contact six months down the road when the timing may be better.

These are just a few bits of guidance on the road to successful prospecting. If you have questions, I can be reached at 212.331.7659 | fvitale@berdonllp.com.

Frank J. Vitale is the Chief Marketing Officer for Berdon LLP and brings more than 20 years of professional services marketing experience to the firm. Frank oversees all department functions and utilizes his expertise in marketing and business development to help build and promote the Berdon brand. He also works with Partners, Principals, and Senior Managers across all industry and service lines to develop and implement strategic initiatives focused on growing the business.
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1 https://blog.thebrevetgroup.com/21-mind-blowing-sales-stats