Successful business owners know they need three key marketing strategies: lead generation, follow up and keep in touch. While I write often about how to attract good leads and will review keeping in touch next time, I wanted to zoom in on follow up as a neglected strategy.
What do you say when someone is “thinking about it”? Or when the answer isn’t “no,” but “not yet”? You’ve got to have a way to follow up with them until the person is ready to purchase. Without follow up, even the best leads go cold. With follow up, you can nurture prospects along your pipeline to exactly the products and services they need.
Does “not yet” really mean “no” from people who don’t want to hurt your feelings?
Sometimes. Other times your offer is right for them, but the circumstances are not yet ideal to take advantage of it.
But, a BIG point I want you to take away from this article is that very often “not yet” means “I’m just not convinced of the value of your offer.” They are curious, even intrigued, but their questions and doubts have not yet been fully addressed.
Can you really move someone from “not yet” to “yes” by following up with them?
Absolutely. This is your opportunity to check in and provide more information and more evidence for your case.
What kind of evidence? Evidence of value. Proof of results you can deliver. This can take the form of:
- Case studies
- Articles you’ve written that can help your prospect with his issue
- Articles written about you proving your expertise
- Press clippings
- Multimedia presentations, etc.
I love to have my Not Yets talk to my past clients. When they hear their enthusiasm and outcomes, they easily move to “yes.”
Some businesses have very long sales cycles; the time from awareness to purchase may be years. The benefit for them is they learn to do what’s called “drip marketing” – regularly contacting the client like a dripping faucet. (The danger is they build up beliefs that sales must take a long time – not true!)
Drip marketing is like gently asking “how about now?” However, it can never be annoying or pushy. The secret is to find the balance between helpful messages that offer real value and selling messages that ask your prospect to take action.
Let’s take a look at this in practice, both with the tactic and message:
1. Meeting with prospect. Everyone feels it went well, but the prospect would like to think about it. Be sure to agree on a time for you to follow up with a phone call. (No timing, also known as “don’t call us, we’ll call you,” means they’re just not that into you.)
2. Immediate follow up with a thank you note. I prefer a handwritten thank you note to an email, but you may choose an automated service like Send-Out Cards as well. In your note, briefly summarize the problem and outcome you believe you can deliver.
3. Phone call as agreed in step 1. This is a good chance to listen for the factors influencing the decision: are they waiting for another decision maker, or for circumstances to change? You may be able to persuade them that waiting is delaying the outcomes you could be getting for them.
4. Print or email mailing. Send one of the credibility builders listed above, such as an article relevant to their situation with some tips. It’s generous and reflects an understanding of the ways you can help.
5. Phone call at agreed follow up time. At this point you might reassess the situation to see if there is genuine interest on their side. If so, continue to work these steps in sequence, varying what you’re sending and how: some physical mail, some email and some phone calls. You might even meet for coffee in person.
Persistence can pay off for you, but it’s important to have a system for follow up (even a simple one, like this short list) and a supply of materials that build your case.
I’ve signed up clients who knew me for years before they were ready to start work with me, and often they were looking at one of my follow up mailings when they picked up the phone to call me.
“Persistence is the twin sister of excellence. One is a matter of quality; the other, a matter of time.” -Marabel Morgan
Photo by Randy Son Of Robert