March 15, 2011
The Fine Art of Business Follow-up
If you are using your business to get rich (the objective of the smartest entrepreneurs), you'll devour this article. Why? Because follow-up is what differentiates those who get rich... from those who just barely scrape by. In short, the stakes couldn't be higher.
Face it, people -- and every single one of your customers -- need follow-up.
Consider this. You've been in contact with a customer. You have explained the benefits of what you're selling and made a motivating offer.
The customer has expressed an interest and asked for time to consider. To you, it seems that the order is in the bag, with nothing left to do beyond banking the profits.
Thus, you sit back, relax... and keeping waiting for... the order that never comes.
What went wrong? Lack of follow-up is what went wrong. And until you become the master of essential customer follow-up, you'll leave deal after deal on the table and allow loss after debilitating loss.
1) Make sure you have all the customer information you need for follow-up.
Do you have an organized, inviolate procedure for collecting customer data, including name, street address, phone number(s) (including land line and cell phone), and e-mail address?
Business people who have mastered the art of follow-up first made sure they have all the details needed to make this follow-up possible.
2) Review your business to determine just when follow-up is necessary and will be most effective.
Every business is different. The follow-up calendar for one may not be most effective for another. That's why you must review what you do, to determine on follow-up procedures with maximum effectiveness.
What you need to determine is how long to give the customer before following up. It's a fine point. You must give the customer enough time to consider what you have provided... yet not too much so that the customer loses focus and forgets.
3) First follow-up call: make sure customer has received what you want her to have.
Sending material by email? Whenever possible, call within the hour to confirm receipt. Remember, sending e-mail and receiving e-mail are two separate things!
Sending material by mail? For folks who are local, call 48-72 hours following mailing; for those who are out-of-town check with the post office to see how long receipt should take. Then add 48 hours to this time for follow-up.
4) What happens when you have difficulty reaching the customer when you follow-up?
First, if there is no answer when you call, make sure you ask the customer to respond to your message. Always leave all the details the customer needs to respond; never assume the customer has them or that they are readily at hand.
Leave such a detailed message twice in the first week; then once a week for the next 3 weeks. (If there is still no customer response by that time, put in a tickler file to call and email again in 30 days.)
When you reach the customer, be sure to ask for the sale. Never assume that you will get it. Work for it; after all, YOU are getting the profit.
If the customer declines your offer, ask why. Most often, particularly in times of economic confusion, people take longer to make decisions, even if the benefits are clear and substantial. Your job is to find out why the customer has declined or postponed a decision... and to both improve the offer whenever possible... or, at the very least, ask when the customer expects to be able to proceed, in which case further follow-up is necessary.
Make this your rule: don't initiate any customer contact unless you are fully prepared to follow it up. Remind yourself that customer follow-up is what makes you the money. Follow-up will distinguish you in your customer's mind as a person of energy, enthusiasm, motivation, and good habits. Which is just how you want them to see you.
About The Author
Harvard-educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is CEO of Worldprofit, Inc., where small and home-based businesses learn how to profit online. Attend Dr. Lant's live webcast TODAY and receive 50,000 free guaranteed visitors to the website of your choice Republished with author's permission by Nicole King.
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