The fortune is in the follow up

You’ve probably heard the famous phrase used by sales executives.

“The fortune is in the follow up”

And it’s true. Because nothing happens overnight, relationships are built over time.

Here’s what happened recently. I was looking for a new chair, My preference was for a Herman Miller and so I walked into a nearby furniture store after I finished carrying out some errands.

They didn’t have Herman Millers, and so the sales executive showed me some other high end ones. I sat on an Allsteel #19 — which is a fantastic chair, and really comfortable. The price was almost the same as the Herman Miller if not more.

So after some time testing various chairs, I wrote down my phone number and address for the sales rep and asked him to call me if he could get a discount before delivering it.

Then I went off to find the Herman Miller distributor.

A day goes by, and there’s no call from this sales rep. I thought he was playing hard to get, to see if I was serious about buying the chair or not at the retail price.

Well, it so happened that I did find the distributor for Herman Miller and even negotiated a reduced retail price. Not bad, but I still had a liking for this Allsteel #19 chair — so I headed back to the store (as I didn’t have their number) for a final ditch effort. And didn’t find the sales rep. After connecting to him through the receptionist, I asked him why he didn’t call yesterday.

“Sorry sir, someone had taken the piece of paper you wrote your address and contact number on from my desk! So I had no way of calling you…”

(My mind is shouting… wtf, can’t you keep a piece of paper safe!)

Ok, fair enough… did he manage to get the discount for me. No, nothing. I made my peace with him and said I’d rather prefer going for the Herman Miller, and that I got a cheaper price. He didn’t budge, he wished me best of luck and I went straight to Herman Miller’s distributor with my cheque.

Here I am, a willing buyer… after doing my research, coming to buy a product from you. But because you didn’t follow up. You didn’t get the sale. What’s worse, someone else did.

I would have happily paid more for your product, but you didn’t follow up. You made me feel needy and do the work for you.

Here’s the reality:

48% of sales people never follow up with a prospect
 25% of sales people make a second contact and stop
 12% of sales people only make three contacts and stop
 Only 10% of sales people make more than three contacts!!

ONLY 2% of sales are made on the 1st contact
 3% of sales are made on the 2nd contact
 5% of sales are made on the 3rd contact
 10% of sales are made on the 4th contact
 80% of sales are made on the 5th-12th contact!!!

We’re all out to sell something, either our products, our companies or even ourselves (yes, you job hunter!) — but if you don’t understand the importance of following up, you’re certainly leaving a fortune on the table.

The other day a friend was telling me about his difficult with networking and building relationships, he admitted failing to follow up with people.

What if I told you with the help of some free or paid tools you could become an expert at this? What would you say?

Here’s how. Let’s face it, we forget. Life gets in the way and we just don’t remember to follow up. I’ve faced this in the past, I still struggle with it — which is why I wanted to kill it for you.

I’m big on technology and tools to make life easier and more productive. And I’m also very big on systems — that’s having a set of rules in place that can either be automatically executed or followed by someone else without you intervening too much.

Tool #1 Calendar (Preferably Google Calendar)

If it ain’t on your calendar, it ain’t going to be done. I can tell how serious you are if it’s on your calendar. Use whichever one you want, but just use it. I use a combination of Google Calendar and a scheduling software called Calendly.

Tool #2 Follow Up Email

  1. Followup.CC
  2. Followup Then
  3. Boomerang (For Gmail)
  4. Nudgemail
  5. MixMax

Now that you have the tools, you need to learn the following (up) process to rake that money in…

3 Steps To Become A Pro At Followup

  1. Have a list handy — doesn’t matter where, just have one for ready access.
  2. Fix Followup Time Frame — it could be daily initially (too much though) or weekly or monthly or quarterly — whatever, fix it ahead of time so you can mark it down.
  3. Block Block Time — Set aside 10 minutes (initially) and at least 30 minutes a day to get this done.

Keep doing this until one of the following happens…

They die…
 They go out of business…
 They send you a cease-and-desist letter…
 They hire or buy from you!

Don’t confuse a NO with one of the following…

  • “This isn’t a good/right time.”
  • “You’re too expensive.”
  • “I’m still working to get approval (decision maker).”
  • “I’m not the one making a decision (decision maker).”
  • “I’m still researching it / looking for more information.”

They won’t say those things, they’ll just say no… to give you an answer. Don’t make it hard on them, make it easy to say YES.

3 Levels Of Interaction

Level 1: Face To Face — this is the BEST way to follow up. Though not always practical and fairly slow, the return on time invested pays off in the long run. And your prospect can’t run away so fast :)

Level 2: Phone — the second best level is picking up the phone and calling them. Your tone of voice comes across well — so use it to your advantage. Just pick up the phone! People get drowned in email, there’s so much people are trying to communicate, that we’ve lost the art of picking up the phone and calling people. Start with…

“Hi, it’s (your name), we met at (event/place), I was hoping to connect with you further to learn more about….. Is there a time within the next week that works for you?”

Pen down the date and time in YOUR CALENDAR.

Level 3: Email — the last method and easiest is email — so those tools are really going to help you here. Here’s another tip. You don’t need to really follow up. Just a raincheck or as I would simply write…

Just checking in.

Those 3 words can make a huge difference. Try it some time.

Follow up AFTER the sale also…

Many companies are providing amazing guarantees just to get people to try their product. This is mostly applicable for those in the digital arena — software or information based products.

And if there’s one thing you can do to substantially reduce the refund rates — is follow up after the sale as well. Many don’t even go through the product, after your super marketing has hyped them up for the purchase. The adrenaline wears off, and so does their dopamine levels.

All it takes is a 5 minute call or a quick thank you note to confirm they’ve received their product. Hey, you can even automate this… but nothing beats a few minutes of personal attention.

Remember, people are busy. They won’t always contact you, even if they are strongly interested in what you are offering. That’s your responsibility.

I invite you to make a list of just 5 people you know you should be following up with today. And meet / call / email them. Email me when you’re done. If you don’t I’ll follow up with you personally to make sure you do that!! If you don’t reply, I’ll personally track you down and whip your a$$. (just kiddin… but you get the picture)


Originally published at jpmartin.com.