You know you need to follow up with prospective clients, but you often find yourself putting it off. "I already called them three times," you think. Or, "They never answer the phone anyway." Or, "I hate hearing no." Or, "I don't want to bug them." Or, "What do I say that's new?"
It's only natural to resist placing phone calls to prospects who didn't return your last call, never seem to be there, may not be ready to buy, or might say they're not interested. But here's the good news. Calling prospects on the phone and asking them to hire you is not the only way to follow up!
Yes, you can call your prospects on the phone, but you can also email them, send a letter or note by postal mail, fax them, overnight them a package, send a text message, or instant message them online. And those are just the different communication channels you might use. The type of messages you deliver can be much more varied than simply asking prospects to do business.
Consider the following 44 ways that you can follow up with your prospects via any communication channel you choose, in order to build a relationship, remind them of what you do, and present yourself as a valuable resource and expert in your field. Many of these follow-up approaches can also be used with potential referral sources and networking contacts.
1. Ask if they have new questions about what you last discussed.
2. Tell them about a book, article, or website that might help with what you talked about.
3. Send a personal note with a copy of your brochure.
4. Point them to a vendor who can solve one of their issues you don't address.
5. Prepare a personalized marketing kit for them focused on their unique issues.
6. Tell them about an upcoming event that addresses an issue you think they have.
7. Invite them to an event where you are a speaker, organizer, or sponsor.
8. Attend an event where you are likely to run into them.
9. Send a nice-to-meet-you or good-to-see-you note with your business card.
10. Call or email to ask what's new in their world.
11. Leave a brief benefits-oriented commercial on their voice mail.
12. Ask them to meet you for coffee, a drink, or lunch.
13. Invite them for golf, tennis, a bike ride, or a walk in the park.
14. Invite them to a concert, play, reading, or art opening.
15. Offer to stop by their place of business.
16. Send a letter summarizing what you last talked about and suggesting next steps.
17. Ask for a meeting so you can prepare a detailed proposal for them.
18. Send them an article (or link to one) that you have written.
19. Send them an article someone else has written about a topic relevant to them.
20. Send them a present -- chocolate, cookies, flowers, a plant, a bottle of wine, or a book.
21. Send them a birthday card.
22. Send them a joke or cartoon about their industry or your field.
23. Send a postcard reminding them what you do.
24. Tell them about a special offer available if they act now.
25. Offer them a free sample of what you can do for them.
26. Send an announcement about a new development in your business.
27. Send a copy of your newsletter or post from your blog and invite them to subscribe.
28. Send a link to a print or audio interview with you about your work.
29. Send a link to a video where you share helpful tips or a client success story.
30. Refer them a prospect for their own business.
31. Watch for their posts on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn and comment on them.
32. Post something useful to a message board where they are members.
33. Post a comment on their blog.
34. Invite them to visit your updated website.
35. Make them a free offer that will subscribe them to an autoresponder series.
36. Give a free teleclass or webinar and invite all your prospects.
37. Invite them to an open house, reception, demonstration, or free workshop.
38. Host a networking breakfast or brown bag lunch and invite several prospects.
39. Offer to give a talk or brown bag lunch for their organization at no charge.
40. Write a white paper or case study and send it to all your prospects.
41. Ask the person who introduced you to contact them and mention you again.
42. Introduce them to a colleague of yours they might like to know.
43. Volunteer for an organization where they also serve.
44. And of course, you can always ask if they are ready to start working with you.
Following up consistently is one of the most productive marketing activities there is, but it won't work if you don't do it. The next time you realize you are avoiding follow-up, pull out your prospect list and choose an approach at random from the suggestions above. It matters much less how you follow up than it does that you follow up.
Copyright © 2009, C.J. Hayden
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