I find it most perplexing when I am meeting with clients and they say their sales are not going very well. When I ask them what is happening, they say they called once, they left a message and they never heard back from their prospect. Follow up is so very important to building the customer relationship and increasing your opportunity for sales. Not only when initially calling a prospect, but any time you have contact with an existing customer about your product or service.
Consistently following up can result in building a relationship or closing a sale. For example, you contact a potential customer and they are busy, not interested, just purchased, etc. Your initial reaction may be to just move on to the next customer and forget about them. What I propose is asking the customer permission to get back in touch with them. You may say, “Could I give you a call back in two weeks to see if you had a chance to look over my proposal/brochure/etc?” If the customer says yes, make a note of it and be sure to call them back! When you contact them again after the wait, start your conversation by saying… “ I recall when we spoke two weeks ago you were in the process of selecting a product/service to…” This restarts the conversation and puts your business right back in front of them. However, what should you do if a customer says they are not interested in your product/service? Ask them when it would be a good time to follow up with them, say in a month or next quarter. By asking permission to follow up, and then doing so, you are starting to build their trust in you and develop a relationship.
Statistics have shown that you need to contact a customer 7 to 8 times to build “top of mind awareness.” What this means is that a customer will usually purchase from the person who contacts them when they are starting to make a purchase decision. By consistently using follow up, you are more likely to contact them when they are ready to make a purchase decision. Contact does not always have to be a phone call, you could email them or send a handwritten note. Maybe you stumble across an article that would be of interest to your customer, send it along with a quick “I thought this may be of interest to you.”
Additionally, every time you connect with a customer, It is important that you try to find out about any current or upcoming needs. If your product/service can fill those needs, great! If it is not an area you can help them with, refer them to someone that can help them. Building relationships and sales are based on trust, reliability and a great product/service that meets the customer’s needs.
Today try combing through your existing customer database and reaching out to your previous customers. Has it been awhile since you have contacted them? Call them, send a thank you card, email or postcard letting your customers know you appreciate their business. Get the conversation going again and remind them that you are there to help with their needs. Follow up is a great way to build relationships, cement those deals and grow your revenues. Good luck!
(Source: Laura Katz, Area Director, UGA SBDC in Athens)