Your traditional and online marketing efforts seem to be generating strong interest, but do you feel you’re missing the mark on the sales end? If converting marketing efforts into sales is a challenge, it’s time to look at how you follow up with potential clients.
It seems like such a small step from marketing to sales, but the more we focus on herding clients to our doors, the less aware we may be of how to follow up effectively to make the final jump from marketing to closing the deal. Follow up consistently, both on the phone as well as through online interactions and you will move more potential clients closer to the sale while developing your sales skills at the same time.
The Marketing-to-Sales Transition. Let’s assume you have a great marketing strategy that is generating interest in your business. Prospective clients are more informed about and familiar with your products and services and are warming up to the idea of doing business. Someone contacts you, whether in the traditional way or online through social networking, expressing interest in learning more about your products and services, or maybe you spoke with someone at a networking event and exchanged business cards. The steps that you take to continue to market yourself during this transition period, before asking for the sale, are crucial to your success in closing the deal.
Follow up with your prospect within 24 to 48 hours. But before you make that connection, take the time and the necessary steps to facilitate the goal of getting the meeting and, eventually, closing the deal.
Make Follow-up Routine. Heading off to a networking event in the evening? Be sure to allot time the next morning to follow up with prospects. In fact, try to schedule some follow-up activity every day. You can always follow up with current clients if there are no new prospects at the moment or take some time to research target prospects.
Do Your Research. You’ve received a call or are holding a business card in your hand. What’s your first step? Visit their website to learn more about their business. Do you see a specific or potential need your business can meet? If your prospect doesn’t have a website, you might ask a mutual acquaintance for information. If you have little or no information, make a note to ask your prospect to tell you more about their business and what they do.
Always Add Value. Think about how you can add value to your prospect’s business through your products and services. If there is a specific need or concern that you can meet, in other words, if you can solve your prospect’s problem, make note of that. Also note how you can meet that need and how the prospect will benefit. Don’t be afraid to add value to every call and email. Remind yourself that your service is valuable to your clients and future prospects. If the issue is outside your area of expertise, consider partnering with someone who has more experience with that issue. Or, at least, give a referral or recommendation for someone you know who can help.
Script it! Now that you have some research under your belt, and you’ve made some notes, write it down and craft a message that sounds natural. Write a warm salutation. Reintroduce yourself and touch upon how you met. Note the prospect’s concern for an issue (or note an area your services could strengthen). Offer to share your ideas about your service. Add value—what you’ve done for others and how it could directly benefit the prospect. Then ask the prospect for an appointment, either in person or over the phone.
Practice it if you need to. The more you go through the process, the easier it will become, but it never hurts to have a script—just don’t sound like you’re reading from one when you call. Remember, this is not a sales pitch. Your goal is to build relationships and eventually interact face to face.
Make the Call. Your next step is to make contact with your client to set up an appointment. Remember, your follow-up should occur within 24 to 48 hours of your prospect’s initial contact. Connect too soon, and you might not be well prepared. Connect too late, and you may appear disinterested. If you fear calling or connecting online, you must work on overcoming your fear of rejection; going through the process above, as well as doing additional work on the value of your services should help. Pull out your script, take a deep breath, smile, and make the connection.
Persist, Respectfully. You may not meet your goal of getting an appointment on your first follow-up with a prospect, but don’t hesitate to follow up again. Remember to always add value with each touch—a brief statement that will give your prospect food for thought. You can also follow up via email or a social network connection and share a white paper or a link to a helpful article on your website or other non-competitive site. Wait a bit and follow up with another interaction. If your efforts go unanswered, interact again, expressing regret that you have not been able to connect before, add a brief value statement, show respect for their schedule, and provide your phone and email to get in touch at their convenience.
No matter which method you choose to use, either calling or Emailing or connecting via social networking, it is imperative that you follow up with your prospects to successfully close the deal. It is critical that your interactions be consistent and continual so that your relationship with your prospects keeps getting stronger and more valuable.
About the Author.
Allan Berger has 30+ years of experience as an-award winning business development consultant and coach. He is responsible for a multitude of successful projects involving leadership and employee development, project management consulting and training and information technology solutions.
His specialty is helping business owners and their leadership teams to think outside of the box. Mr. Berger helps them to expand existing products and services for new customers and offer new products and services to existing customers.
As an experienced business owner, consultant and coach, he shows individuals and organizations how to maximize their potential. He helps individuals understand their strengths and weaknesses. He coaches them as they develop into effective leaders. Allan helps organizations to quickly diagnose business issues and formulate cost-effective, practical solutions. He then helps them rapidly implement improvements.
Allan spends much of his time supporting clients in the financial services, healthcare, manufacturing, pharmaceutical, professional services, retail and utility industries.
For more information about Allan, vist his website at: www.bergerbusinessadvisors.com