A successful initial meeting with a prospect is wasted if you fail in the next important step: following up. What are the best ways to follow up? That depends on who you ask. So we decided to ask many of you how you do it. What are your best ways to follow up with prospects? We’ve compiled the responses for you to peruse and use.
Timeframe and homework
When following-up with a prospect with whom I’ve had one appointment and didn’t close, I like to think there are two things I can control: the timeframe and what information he is considering in my absence.
To control the timeframe and avoid the perception of being sales driven instead of relationship driven, I ask when I can check back with him. Most times, prospects will request a few days; occasionally they will say a week or two.
Next, to keep prospects from forgetting, freezing or failing to come to a conclusion, I provide “homework” at the end of the first meeting. This homework assignment isn’t meant to be a challenge, but an opportunity to narrow down the decisions that will be made and provide a framework of the issues we can address.
With the timeframe set and the homework in hand, I have a reason to reconnect with my clients. I have found e-mail and snail mail are one-sided and therefore not as effective as a phone call. During my follow-up call, I can gauge their tone and eagerness, and I usually receive one of two responses:
1) We haven’t had a chance to review the information.
2) We’re pretty sure we want to move ahead, but there is still one or two issues we have not decided yet.
Neither of these responses is necessarily bad news. My value in both cases is to either help them get “unstuck” or to help them work through to a conclusion. In both cases, I always assure them, “This is a little complicated. That is why there are agents. I’d be happy to come by and help you work this through.”
By setting a timeframe, defining the key issues to consider and using this follow-up technique, I can create a win-win situation. Some clients recognize that they can come to a decision more easily with me present than on their own. Most importantly, I feel I am making a stronger bond with my clients.
Marc Strumpf is a long term care specialist with MassMutual in Bethesda, Md.
The lost art of handwritten notes
Want to make a strong, positive impression on your prospects? After every meeting, send them a handwritten note. In today’s world, we immediately think that the best and quickest way to follow-up is to send an e-mail. But with everyone’s e-mail inbox overflowing, a handwritten note will help you stand out. It shows that you took the time to get stationery, write a message, address an envelope and mail it. It sets you apart from everyone else, and, it’s far more personal than e-mail, a formal letter or a postcard. It’s easy to do, it doesn’t take long and it’s inexpensive. The note should be brief; thank the prospect for his time and mention one or two things you discussed. I have walked into prospects’ offices after sending them a note and seen my thank you note tacked up on their bulletin board. Start doing this on a regular basis, and you will find far more receptive prospects.
Mark Dembo is president of White Plains, N.Y.-based Lexien Management Consultants Inc., an affiliate of DEI Management Group.
With the expensive cost of lead generation, I realize that I need to maximize each lead I get. I do that by categorizing them into warm and hot prospects. I spend hundreds of dollars to get in the door, but when I leave their homes I want something to make them say “wow” about me and the services I offer. Over the years, I have developed a detailed process to make sure that happens with prospects.
For my “A” prospects, I go forward and continue to invest in them with one of three types of premiums to obtain the wow effect. One is a tin of popcorn from the Popcorn Factory with a fun note that reads, “I am popping with excitement over the opportunity to work with you.” Another premium is a $50 to $60 gift package from Colorado Prime with a note: “I’m looking forward to developing a relationship we can sink our teeth into.” And finally, another premium I often utilize is candy or cookies from Mrs. Fields for the prospect who has a “sweet tooth” and offered me dessert and coffee during our meeting. In each of these follow-up situations, I gauge what each prospect would most enjoy and make him feel special.
For my “B” prospects, I still go above and beyond because I realize how important they are. My “A” prospects also get the items my “B” prospects receive. First, I send my “B” prospects my customized Certified Senior Advisor newsletter to “touch” them with information about me and my services. For as long as they remain a prospect, they will continue to receive this newsletter every 30 days. From there, I send them a news article – from my extensive library of newspaper clips – about a topic we discussed during their meeting.
I read numerous papers daily to see what trends and issues are covered in the media and add these articles to my library to keep it current. I send these educational, third-party, unbiased articles with a sticky note reminding them of our discussion. I also highlight the important points to make the article easier for the senior to read. And finally, from there, I follow-up with a phone call. I find that reminding people in a friendly voice that you enjoyed meeting them is a priceless way of following up and gaining the important level of trust.
Lee Hyder is president and founder of Akron, Ohio-based Lee Hyder & Associates.
Roll with the changes
Follow-up is the most important piece of working with any prospect; without it you won’t get business. But not all people respond to the same follow-up technique, so the techniques should vary from week to week or month to month. Phone calls and house calls are the most effective ways to follow up with prospects because they allow you to continue to build a relationship and participate in open dialogue. The more you can get them talking, the better off you’ll be when it comes time to close the sale. Although, if the prospect isn’t sold on doing business with you at that time, that is the time to begin a drip-marketing campaign. Send them postcards offering a free consultation, send newsletters on a monthly or quarterly basis with value-added articles, or send e-mails focusing on specific ideas.