Is following up a component of your selling system?
If it’s not, you may want to consider making it one.
According to a study done by the Association of Sales Executives, 81% of all sales happen on or after the fifth contact.
Think about that. Many business owners I talk to stop at two!
If you’re a small business owner and you’re only doing one or two follow-ups, you are likely losing lots of business.
Consistent follow-up creates a predictable and profitable stream of prospects and customers that buy.
Small businesses that capture leads and follow-up with them enjoy higher conversion rates and a higher percentage of referrals than those that don’t.
When I ask prospects and clients WHY they don’t follow up, I often hear responses such as, “I don’t have sales staff to chase down leads” or “I’m too busy to do a lot of follow up.”
Huh? Let’s walk that back a bit. As a small business owner, isn’t making a profit one of your primary objectives?
The problem isn’t that they don’t have the ability or resources to follow up with prospects, it’s that they don’t have a systematic process for doing it.
A good follow up marketing system has three characteristics:
- It’s systematic – meaning that the follow up process is done the same way every time.
- It generates consistent, predictable results.
- It requires minimal physical interaction to make it run.
That may sound daunting but savvy business owners are doing it every day and enjoying the profits and the time and energy that gets freed up by spending some time working ON their business instead of continually being bogged down working IN it.
There are three types of people you typically need to follow up with:
SUSPECTS (people in your target marketplace), PROSPECTS (people who have responded to your marketing but have not purchased, and CUSTOMERS (people who have purchased something from you.)
Your message to each group will be different.
With suspects, you’ll want to entice them to call you, download your free offer in exchange for their email address or visit your store / office.
With prospects, you need to persuade them to make their first purchase.
And with customers, you want to convince them to come back and do more business with you and give your referrals.
There are 3 primary follow up tools you can use – phone, direct mail, and email.
A word of caution…
Following up by phone should be used very strategically in the early going.
Most prospects don’t want a pushy sales call right away. The smart marketer develops a relationship of trust using informational items such as special reports, audio CDs, or videos PRIOR to making a phone call.
Always remember, your prospects want to move through the buying process at THEIR pace. Your follow up process should gently nudge them to take the next step in YOUR selling process.
And, you want to “link” your follow up process. That is to say you want each communication building on the previous message.
For example, in a direct mail follow up, you might start your second letter by saying, “10 days ago I sent you a letter…”
An effective direct mail follow up might have 3-5 three mailings spaced out about seven days apart.
When using a sequential email autoresponder – Aweber is an inexpensive, effective, stand alone system – you can have as many follow ups as you want because using email is basically free.
Again, each email should build upon the previous one and feature a call-to-action (CTA).
Sure, you have to take the time on the front end to create your follow sales letters and emails (or hire a copywriter :-D ) but once that’s done, you can put your follow up system on auto pilot.
Following up with a systematic process allows you to leverage your time and increase your productivity, which will result in more sales with less effort.