We often say during our free webinar training that it’s the perfect time to develop and launch a new business online. And while it’s an exciting time starting a new business, some business owners get so wrapped up running and setting up everything that sometimes their customers get lost in the mix. While the ultimate goal is to obtain and maintain customers, whether you’re a blogger who sells products or an online coach who offers career advice, unless you take the time to follow up with your customers, you’re going to have a hard time keeping them. The problem is that people like doing follow-ups, but recently that has begun to change. Yes, we get why you might be wondering why this business strategy is becoming popular, especially since we just said people are lazy, and the answer is that businesses are taking more time to get back to their customers because they know it matters. If you too take the time to get back to your customers, you’ll be more likely to form relationships which in turn will lead to them supporting your business and buying more of your services.
Now that we’ve established that following up with customers is essential, Entrepreneur discusses why timing is everything. Yes, there’s a strategy you should apply when it comes to following up with your customers!
People buy when they're ready to buy, not when you're ready to sell. This means you have to be in front of folks when they’re ready to buy. In other words, you have to follow up with them religiously:
You need to follow up with warm and even cold-that-may-warm prospects consistently and frequently for an extended period of time.
You can't afford to leave this in the hands of your salespeople.
You need a system for follow-up and tools to implement the system.
ThriveHive suggests personalizing your communications and using various methods to reach out to customers. Since there are so many ways to reach out to people so take advantage of them without going crazy. You never know when someone may get back to you!
Personalize Your Communication
Personalize your correspondence by including the recipient’s name in your emails, sending them information based on the pages visited on your website, or responding personally to an online inquiry instead of pushing canned responses.
Use Various Communication Channels
Leads have a preferred way of communicating and quite frankly, you have no idea what that is at this point. Use social media, email, snail mail, nd phone calls to connect with potential clients.
We don’t mean to reach out directly using every single communication tool you have! Just be sure that you’re readily available no matter your lead’s preferred medium. So, respond to social media messages quickly, answer your phone and return calls promptly and check your inbox.
Small Business Trends recommends setting expectations with customers from the very beginning and also focusing on customers after the sale. In other words, don’t forget about them after they purchase products or services from you. Continue the relationship, so they know you care about their experience and genuinely want them to be satisfied with their purchase.
If you don’t set expectations, your customers will set their own. By being proactive, you can influence how they perceive their satisfaction with the eventual outcome. Be specific about what needs to be followed up on and when you will get back to them. Then, get back to the customer in the promised time frame even if there is not a resolution.
Businesses are usually great following up to get the sale, but then don’t contact the customer until they need to make the next one. This only shows that the business is interested in the sale – not the success of their customer.
It’s pretty crazy to think that typically customers don’t respond until they’ve heard from you seven times. Due goes on to explain why sending just one email isn’t enough and how you can encourage customers to respond to you.
People need to hear from you an average of seven times.
Another reason why follow ups are so important is because people will need to hear from you an average of seven times before they finally decide to purchase something from you.
That’s right. Seven.
That means that sending an email once is not enough. It also means that if they don’t respond the first time it doesn’t necessarily mean they aren’t interested. Like I said, maybe they’re just busy. Or, maybe they just haven’t heard from you enough yet which is why you need to remain consistent with follow ups.
You really are leaving money on the table.
I already gave a clear cut example of how it took months of consistently following up with a client to finally land a deal. Had I not done this, I would have lost out on money and the prestige of writing for one of the best finance sites around (which then leads to more money!)
As you contact customers while it’s excellent forming relationships with them, Keap also mentions you should keep these best practices in mind.
To maximize the benefits of follow up, also incorporate these best practices:
Don't let too much time go by before following up with customers. The faster you can reach out, the greater the chances you can win them back or make a memorable impression. Create a schedule on your calendar that blocks out time each day to work on customer service follow up.
If a customer has contacted you, be sure to return their call or email within 24 hours at the most. This shows your level of concern about helping them or fixing any problems.
When you are following up and there is conflict or emotions on the part of the customer, look to turn it into something positive and identify any common ground. This can go a long way to making a great impression and resolving any issues.
When you are following up, avoid yes or no questions. Instead, ask open-ended questions so you can get the most information from your customers about their experience. The more you know, the better chance you have for making improvements in your business.
Consider some type of small gift or extra value when following up. This is not a bribe. In fact, it is actually a way to say “thank you” and “I'm sorry” (if there was a bad experience). It sends the message that you appreciate them. Also, if there was a problem, it is a way to encourage them to try your business again so you can prove you resolved the problem.
Last but not least, don’t forget to integrate sales and marketing! Sales is a given, but many businesses, according to Entrepreneur, underestimate the power of marketing. Marketing tactics are never-ending, and just when you begin to get the hang of one technique another one becomes popular! Use marketing to your advantage, take the time to get to know your customers, and you will likely see your sales significantly improve!
In most companies, the marketing department’s job is to get the leads and the sales department’s job is to call on the leads and close the sale. But in between getting the lead and closing the sale, there’s a huge gap. To close the gap, you need to recognize that:
- Marketing’s job doesn’t begin and end when the lead is acquired,
- Sales' job doesn’t begin and end with a “heat check” phone call to each lead, and
- Someone (either marketing or sales) has to be in charge of “warming the leads” that aren’t hot right now but will be hot down the road.
Think of it this way: Every business has a lead generation department (marketing) and a lead closing department (sales), but they’re lacking a lead warming department. To bridge the gap between marketing and sales, you need a lead warming department.
Here's how to make that happen:
Send relevant, valuable information to every prospect regularly, relentlessly and frequently.
Communicate with prospects efficiently, aside from the normal, time-consuming, one-on-one methods.
Log all communications between your office and the prospect in an organized fashion.
After implementing a system to follow up with customers, you’ll quickly realize why this type of business strategy really pays off. Don’t make the mistake of leaving on the table because you’re afraid to follow up. We often discuss in our free webinar training how to make money online and how forming relationships with customers can lead to great rewards. Join us for our next training – we can’t wait to “see” you there!