Published: March 2nd, 2016; by Judi Hughes

How much money are you leaving on the table because you don’t follow-up?

According to a recent survey, it takes not one or two, but many follow-ups to close a sale – 10% close on the fourth contact while 81% close on or after the fifth connection.

These statistics suggest that relationship building, not the hard sell, is key to growing your client list. And, without follow-up, networking and other marketing initiatives have little or no value. Building a relationship with a potential client is actually where the value lies. On its own, networking is time away from the office to meet people.  It’s your follow-up that changes it from a nice morning out into an effective relationship building and business growth activity.

So if business growth is the likely result of follow-up, why the hesitation? Why is the follow-up always last on the to-do list? It all boils down to building it into your work routine. From there, practice and planning will ease the process along. Implement the following strategies to help get you started and you will be able to improve your follow-up activities and better keep your connections alive.

Schedule and respect your follow-up time 

When you schedule a one-on-one meeting or networking event, immediately book your follow-up time.  Moving forward, schedule your follow-up time the same way you book other tasks or meetings. Treat follow-up time with the same respect as all other business growth activities. Scheduling and dedicating just one additional hour a week to re-connect can help you build the kinds of relationships that will grow your business.  Use that dedicated time to private message LinkedIn connections, call individuals from a recent business luncheon or follow-up on outstanding proposals. Schedule it in. Planning and consistency are keys to enjoying great results.

Define the purpose of your follow-up  

Knowing the purpose of your follow-up is critical.  Not knowing the purpose of your follow-up will stop you in your tracks and give you reason not to do it. Very seldom is the purpose of a follow-up to make the sale.  Remember you are building a relationship.  The purpose for the first follow-up is always to qualify the contact.  You need to get to know a little bit about the person, understand their needs and assess if there is a way you can help them.  Before making contact, consider what you want to come away from this meeting with, what is your desired result and what will your next step to be.   The easiest way to approach your follow-up is to have a genuine purpose for your call.

They just aren’t ready “yet”

Unless a prospect says they are not interested in future contact, there is no reason to assume they don’t want to hear from you. They may tell you they are not ready to buy, but that does not mean “no”.  It simply means they aren’t ready to buy “yet”.  According to a recent survey, it takes not one or two, but many follow-ups to close a sale – 10% of sales close on the fourth contact while 81% close on or after the fifth connection. (A study undertaken by the Sales and Marketing Executives Club of Los Angeles)

These statistics suggest that relationship building, not the hard sell, is the key to growing your client list. And, without follow-up, networking and other marketing initiatives do not have value. Building a relationship with a potential client is actually where the value lies.

You are there to help

Many business owners are just not comfortable with the idea of “selling”.  Rather than focusing on closing the deal, think about how you might help the client. What are their needs and what skills or products can you provide to help them?  With this mindset, it will be easier to communicate what you have to offer, and the conversation will feel more authentic and less like a sales pitch. If you can’t help them, then you shouldn’t be offering your services.  Take the time to refer them to someone who can help them.  They will remember you for it.

Take it on! You’ll feel the impact on your bottom line

Growing your network and building relationships takes focused work.  That’s why the word “work” is part of net- “working”.  If making money and growing your business are important to you, you must embrace the fact that your fortune is in the follow-up.  You must make it a priority. By consistently sticking to follow-up plan you will build those relationships, you will bring on new clients and you will grow your business.

Find the fortune in your follow-up today!

  • Make a list of five potential clients that you would like to follow up with.
  • Before making contact, bullet-point a list of how you think your business can help each of them.
  • Make contact and book a meeting. If they can’t now, proactively schedule future contact.
  • Never leave a call or meeting without planning a future connection.
  • Set up a spreadsheet detailing information about your follow-up contact.
  • Book in a few minutes a week to review and modify this spreadsheet.
  • Keep doing this and you are well on your way to increasing sales.

Want more help? Listen to this 2 Minute Tip on Mining Diamonds in Your Own Backyard