Today, I want to explore whether you are leaving money on the table?
I raise this topic this week as on two separate occasions recently, I have heard rumbles from entrepreneurs about the lack of time to follow-up with potential clients.
Conversely, I have been at social events when friends have bemoaned the fact that they just can’t get business suppliers to f/up on enquiries.
I have some sympathy with this frustration at I too have struggled at times to get an adequate and timely response from suppliers in my own business. This has resulted in either not pursuing enquiries with them or finding an alternative and more responsive supplier.
However, before we start to explore this any further, there are a couple of things to note.
Firstly, no two contacts from prospects will necessarily be the same and what motivates one prospect to become a customer isn’t necessarily what will motivate another.
Also, worth noting, is that what worked for you when you first started your business and or indeed where you are now, may not always work in the future, as you grow into the next stage of your business.
What research shows us is that prospects are ready to buy at different times and for different reasons, depending on their wants and needs as well as external influences such as advertising etc.
Consequently, the best way to deal with this issue is to understand this and stay top of mind with your prospects until they decide that they need what you’re selling.
When trying to stay top of mind with your prospects, its worth bearing in mind that a staggering:
- 2 percent of sales close after the first contact
- 10 percent of sales close on the fourth contact
- 81 percent of sales close on (or after) the fifth contact
On seeing these statistics, you may be both astonished and possibly slightly horrified that it generally takes at least five contacts before making a sale! You may even consider this as quite intrusive.
However, it’s unlikely that you are going to understand what your prospects want right away, and in fact, neither will they.
It takes time for them to get to know you, your business, and your products or services, just as it takes time for you to get to know them. Until your prospects feel REALLY confident that they need what you’re selling — and that yours is the business they want to deal with — they aren’t likely come on board as paying customers.
Therefore, very limited follow-up may be totally ineffective both in terms of time and value.
So it is rather unsurprising, that failing to follow-up multiple times means that you are leaving a lot of money on the table, by losing the initial business from that particular client.
But it could be SO much more than just income from an initial sale, as often you will be losing out on repeat business from that client or indeed on multiple referrals that they may make on receiving a successful service or product from you or your company.
As s a busy business owner, I totally sympathise and recognize that there is a lot to juggle, when running a business, however, these issues are so very avoidable if you have the right system in place.
These need not be high tech systems, though some of the technology available today can make life a lot simpler.
You could avoid all of this, by spending a few minutes just putting in place a very simple 3-step system and potential solution.
The 3 Step Follow-up System To Ensure You Do Not Leave Money On The Table
Step 1 – Timely Responses To Initial Enquiries
The first step in this simple system is to spend just a few minutes creating a brief set of 2-3 draft emails or texts that you would have ready to send out each time you receive an enquiry.
Draft 1 – would explain that you will be in touch by a certain date and then, of course, most importantly ensuring that you follow-up, as promised.
This will provide a timely and professional first response to the potential clients whilst still giving you time to plan and attend to their request, based on your schedule and limitations.
Drafts 2 & 3 – will be short follow-up communications, either reminding them of the initial contact or keeping communications open.
Once you have set up these drafts, you can even get someone else to send them out for you.
Step 2 – Keeping Top of Mind
Given on average, it can take up to five follow-ups before we can gain the prospects’ trust and confidence, we need to do more than just send out the initial emails.
Therefore, in addition to the draft emails, you will want to ensure you stay in touch, using a variety of methods, which work best for you and your client group.
These could include:
- monthly e-newsletters
- posting useful information to them in written, audio or video format via social media platforms; and
- occasionally switching from online to offline communication by sending out a print newsletter, to address those that have become desensitized to email due to the increased volume that we all receive.
Step 3 – Gaining A Deeper Understanding
Finally in this step, you will gain a deeper understanding of your prospects’ needs and wants, so that you can build their trust and confidence as well as be recognized an expert in your field.
The most effective way is to ask the prospects a series of questions.
There is no real substitute to following up but by putting aside a small percentage of your time, to set up this simple 3 step process, you will be creating the right environment for potential customers to buy from you, when they are ready to do so.