When prospects call and leave you a message asking for an estimate, how many times do you follow up before you give up and move on? How about after you’ve given the estimate? If you’re like most small business owners, probably one or two times, right? I mean, who has the time?
According to the National Sales Executive Association, 73 percent of sales people follow up with a prospect two times or fewer. And actually, 48 percent of leads never get a follow up call (that really surprised me).
And yet – here’s the kicker – 80 percent of sales happen after the fifth contact with the prospect … 80%!
What Does That Mean to You?
If you don’t have a system in place to:(1.) consistently keep track of your leads, and (2.) systematically follow up with them until they give you a “yes” or “no” answer, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity to grow your business. How big an opportunity? Here are a couple of examples:
• Two owners that I coach each closed more than $5,000 in new business within a couple of weeks just by implementing this one tip!
• Last year, a client of mine implemented a follow up system and increased his close rate from 35 percent to 58 percent in just a couple of months. He's a multimillion-dollar painting business, so that means for every 100 leads he gets he’s selling 23 more jobs!
And what’s great, is that they didn’t have to spend any extra money on marketing or more time going out on lots of estimates to increase their sales. All they did was get a little better at keeping in touch with the leads they already had!
No, You Don’t Have to Be a stalker.
I know that this level of follow up may feel uncomfortable. I do it myself, so I know firsthand. But I also know that it works, so you need to be following up.
You can mix a series of phone calls and emails over a period of a month or even longer. The truth is, your prospects are busy, just like you and often forget to follow through. That doesn’t mean that they aren’t interested. In fact, when you don’t follow up, it sends the message that you're not interested in their business and aren't motivated to do the work.
To make your follow up easier, when you talk to your prospects, ask them when the best time is to call them back. Now you have their permission to call back, so don’t forget to do it!
A recent study cited in the Harvard Business Review found that responding to leads in a timely fashion makes a big difference. For leads that come to you online, you’re seven times more likely to qualify a lead if you follow-up in less than an hour!
Remember, you never get a second chance to make a great first impression and your follow up is that first impression.
Create a Simple System to Ensure Consistent Follow Up
I know you’re super busy and in the crazy busy world you live in it’s easy to lose track of leads. And consistent follow up is an even bigger problem in the busy season when a tsunami of leads comes your way all at once!
So you need a system to ensure your success. It doesn’t have to be a complicated system. Some of my clients use a folder with 31-day tabs and 12-month tabs to keep track of their leads. When they get a lead, they follow up and write all of the information on a follow up form. Then they take the form and place it in the appropriate follow up date in the folder. Each day, they check folder for today’s date, take out the forms for the day and make their follow up calls and then move their follow up forms to a new date.
Simple! And they rarely drop the ball on following up on a prospect! Of course there are more sophisticated follow up customer relationship management (CRM) systems that you can use on your computer or phone, but I just wanted you to get the picture of how easy follow up can be.
Put Your Follow Up Plan into Action Right Now.
My recommendation to you is to take an hour or two this week to create your own follow up system. You and your bank account will be happy that you did!
About the Author
Bill Silverman is the owner of Springboard Business Coaching. He is dedicated to helping you propel your business to the next level of growth and profit while you work less. He can be reached at (856) 751-1989 or firstname.lastname@example.org.