Many of us shy away from following up with prospective clients, because we're afraid we'll come across as pushy or be regarded as a pest. Or we follow up once, heave a sigh of relief because we've done our duty, and get on with the fun stuff - providing the service we love to provide. Does any of that sound familiar? I know it does to me!
But as small business owners, follow up can be the life blood of our businesses. It takes a lot of time, money and energy to cultivate leads and we can't afford to waste them.
48% of sales people never follow up with a prospect.
25% of sales people make a second contact and stop
12% of sales people only make three contacts and stop
Only 10% of sales people make more than three contacts.
2% of sales are made on the first contact
3% of sales are made on the second contact.
5% of sales are made on the third contact
10% of sales are made on the fourth contact
80% of sales are made on the fifth to twelfth contact.
That's a staggering amount of business that is being left on the table, or worse, going to your competitors because you dropped the ball.
The figures I quoted above have been around for a while. But in our current business climate, where people are taking longer to make buying decisions, I assume they are only more relevant.
Once I was at a sales training where a participant asked the trainer: "So how do you know when to stop following up?" The trainer's reply: "Till they buy or die!"
That seemed a bit harsh to me, but I got his point: don't give up until there's a good reason to do so. One thing I do that makes it easier is that I always ask permission to keep call them again: I make a note of and respect what a potential client tells me.
The truth that I've discovered is that most people, if they're genuinely interested in your service, are grateful when you keep in touch. I have often gritted my teeth to pick up the phone and call someone, only to hear something like this: "Thank you so much for calling. I have your card on my desk and wanted to call you but hadn't gotten around to it yet because I've been so busy." I can tell by the tone of the voice if they're sincere, and they almost always are.
For me the mindset with which you approach the follow up calls is key. If you go in thinking you have to make a sale and get this client, your words and your energy will reflect this and chances are nothing will happen.
But if you go in with the attitude of: "I'm going to take the time to find out what this person needs, and see if it fits with what I offer," you move into a different intention. Follow up calls become a lot easier when it's no longer about "closing the sale" but about having a conversation and building a relationship.
You'll notice the results in your business - and I'm sure you'll feel better too.
Copyright 2011 Maggie Dennison. All rights reserved.