How to Follow Up with Prospects & Clients
How much follow up is enough or too much–be diligent, not desperate
I am often asked how much follow up is enough or too much:
How soon should I follow up with a prospect?
How many phone call attempts?
How many voice mail messages?
How many emails?
How many pigeons?
How many telegraphs?
How many smoke signals?
Well, it depends on many variables, so let’s address one of the common scenarios.
You just had a meeting or presentation with a prospective client. Your client requests a proposal. Assuming you’ve qualified this opportunity and client based on need, budget, time frame and solution fit (Example B2B Qualifier, Free Blank B2B Qualifier). Before you leave the meeting agree to a proposal delivery due date (stick to it), and agree to a decision date. Get your client’s preferred method of communication (i.e. email, phone, texting). If your client agreed to tell you NO, you probably won’t have to call or email too often. We all know that things happen. People get sick, holidays, vacations, etc. So, you have to trust your instinct, be diligent, but don’t always assume the worst if you are unsuccessful in reaching your client after a couple attempts. Now is the time to practice DILIGENCE and PROFESSIONAL PATIENCE.
In a situation like the one outlined above, the first and most important point to keep in mind is not trying to trick the client into saying “Yes.” Hearing “No” is more productive than spending three months chasing the opportunity only to learn that you did not win. Top sales professionals have learned how to win fast and lose fast. They spend less time forcing unproductive opportunities and more time advancing relationships, opportunities, and sales.
How to develop an open and upfront channel of communication?
One method for developing an open and upfront communication channel with a prospect or client is to let them know that it’s okay for them to tell you NO. Saying something like, “I know you have many options, so if for some reason you don’t think we are a good fit or you just don’t like our offering, are you okay with telling me NO?” With a smile and humor say, “I don’t want to be annoying, leaving you hundreds of voice mail messages and thousands of emails, because you are trying to be polite and don’t want to hurt my feelings. I would be most grateful if you would say NO as early as possible so we are not wasting each others time.”
How to Follow Up With a Client?
Don’t call or email everyday. Once per week is enough (no more than twice if you just feel compelled). Develop a mindset that you have too many new prospects in line waiting to meet with you and too many existing clients. You really don’t have time to call more than once per week…maybe only once every other week.
If you call first and choose to leave a voice message, immediately send an email, “I’m sorry I missed you today. I just left you a voice message regarding…I would appreciate a reply by___”.
If you send an email first, call and say, “I just sent you an email regarding… I want to make sure it didn’t end up in your junk/spam folder. I would appreciate a reply by ____”.
Always smile when on the phone…especially when leaving a voice message (they will hear your smile or lack thereof). Never sound impatient, rude, arrogant, annoyed, or timid, shy, soft spoken or weak. Leave an optimistic and friendly message like you would for a close friend or your grandmother. Regarding emails, carefully check your writing tone. Try to choose words and phrases that evoke images and emotions of professional gentleness and kindness, yet with a mild sense of urgency to meet initial expectations.
I have a lot of success with getting timely replies from prospects and clients by using email subject lines to send very short “text-like” messages to ask a question or make a request. I don’t use cute texting shorthand or abbreviations. I may just insert a brief question that can easily be scanned in the email inbox. If you need to write more, continue in the body of the email. Use clear key words such as: “Do you have time to meet next week?” “Request for Information:” “Proposal Attached:” “Action Required:” “Please Review:” “Call me 400.555.1234,” etc…use your imagination
If you need help with your opportunity development program, talk to Carlos.
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Paper authored by Carlos Diggs. Invite Carlos Diggs to speak or be a panelist at your next event. C|D is a full service opportunity development consultancy and agency. Contact Carlos to discuss how to develop and win more opportunities.