The Power of the Follow Up: Why No One Does It and Why You Should

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The follow up in sales is almost non-existent. When I was starting my marketing business, I was thinking, “What can I do to set myself apart from the hundreds of other marketing agencies in my area?” The answer is the follow-up.

The start

Let me give you a little background. I started my business working morning, nights and weekends in order to get it off the floor… the hustle was real. I still worked at my full-time job until I was comfortable leaving it to venture off on my own. It took a year. I set a goal and made it happen.

I was researching articles like this one, and reading books like this one and the one thing I was reading over and over, was the failure by salespeople to follow up on leads.

Now, if you’re thinking, “Well I’m not a salesperson, so this article doesn’t apply to me.” You’re wrong and I’ll tell you why. That interview you just went on? That was a sales call. You were selling yourself. That phone call that you just picked up from your front desk job at the dentist’s office where you were nice to someone looking for more information, that was also a sales job.

The deal

We’re always selling ourselves. When you meet someone new, you want them to like you, hence you reach out, you text them, you set a date and you start hanging out. In a new relationship, you do the same. No relationship would move forward if there wasn’t a follow-up… or maybe a couple in some people’s cases.

The fact is, following up is a part of life… you just need to translate it into your sales cycle now.

The stats

According to this article, only about 20%, (TWENTY PERCENT!), of sales calls are followed up on. Let me word this a different way for you. This statistic means that 80% of the sales calls are lost. They’re gone. Down the tubes and done.

For me, it takes a while for someone to make a buying decision. I usually work on a monthly retainer price and some people need to think it over, others just want to see if they can do it themselves. Both are fine, but the fact is, I always follow up.

Here’s my real life example.

I went to a networking group in October of 2015 and I met a potential lead. He was an attorney and had a new company that he wanted to get leads for. He already had someone helping with his website so he wanted my company to help with the SEO and PPC. I followed up with him each month for five months until he gave me a small project to help coordinate the changes needed with his website company. I did a great job and made the process seamless for him, so he hired me to finally do some SEO work on his website. The total timeline for this client was 7 months of following up.

According to the same article above, ‘80% of non-routine sales occur only after at least five follow-ups which tells you that 92% of sales people give up after four “no’s,” and only 8% of sales people ask for the order a fifth time.’

If you’re following with me here this means that 8% of the sales people ask for the order a fifth time. If you’re still not catching my drift here… this means that 8% of the sales people are making 80% of the money and sales.

Why is this so?

Let’s break this down a little further. There are many reasons people don’t want to follow up. It could be a multitude of things like

  • I don’t want to be a bother
  • I don’t want to seem desperate
  • I don’t want to annoy them
  • I’ve already tried a couple times
  • I need to work on more prospective leads

All of these are valid reasons someone might think they shouldn’t reach out that next time. However, they’re not valid enough.

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Strategy

In order to overcome these reasons above, I’ll share with you a couple things I’ve done in order to not be annoying or to think outside of the box without being desperate (because we all know you can smell desperation a mile away!)

Send someone a handwritten note

I did this to a dentist that needed my help but wanted to try it on his own. I sent him a card saying,

Hi Dr. X,

I wanted to check in with you to see how your website build was coming along. I recently wrote a blog about the importance of having a great website. I think you’d find it useful and I hope you’ll check it out.

Let me know if there’s anything that I can help with.

I look forward to speaking with you in the future.

Sincerely,

Kaitlyn

Simple and to-the-point. I also attached my card, just in case he didn’t have it.

Send someone a follow-up email after a long time

I did this one too. I was going back through my ‘prospect’ folder in my email and wanted to make sure I hit everyone that was in there at least once per month.

Now, there are a couple of different categories that I have in my prospect folder:

  • Follow up within a certain time-frame
  • Follow up with whenever

The ‘follow-up in a certain time-frame’ one meant that they told me when to follow up and I put it on my calendar to do so. The ‘follow up with whenever’ are the clients who never said that they were ready, and I need to keep checking in with them every couple of months.

Back to the ‘follow up email after a long time’ story. I had a referral from a client who said her friend, let’s call her Sally, needed help with her marketing. When I got this referral, it was when I first started my business, probably nine months before. I emailed and called, but she never got back with me. Once again, I went through the ‘prospect’ folder and followed up. Guess what? She was ready to sit down and talk about her marketing. BINGO.

The follow-up is more of an artform. You need to be creative to make the person feel like you genuinely care (which you do), but you also need to send something that isn’t a bother; This takes time and skill. But, after a couple of no’s, four to be exact, you should be on your way to beating out the competitors with that fifth follow-up email, hopefully, resulting in a yes!

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