The Follow Up

Try this test the next time you are looking for any type of service:

  1. Visit several companies’ web sites.
  2. Fill out their contact form explaining what you are looking for.
  3. Count how many of these companies reply.

According to AMR Research, you can expect only 30% to follow up. Why is follow up so rare?

Likely reasons:

  • Your request falls outside of the scope of the company’s services.
  • The size of your potential business is lower than their minimum threshold.
  • There was no way to determine your level of interest or ability to purchase.

Unlikely reasons:

  • You have a lazy sales rep.
  • The company doesn’t instantly forward leads to sales reps for follow up.

If the company’s online form did not collect enough information, it might be hard for a sales person to know whether you are ready to buy. Commission-based sales people look for a return on their time quickly so they filter out unqualified leads to focus on ones that can result in real business opportunities.

Unfortunately, a delayed or non-existent response can be frustrating from the buyer’s perspective. This can create ill will that affects the company’s reputation.

Put Yourself in Their Shoes

You may not be a sales person, but all of us receive requests by people that require a response. How quickly do you follow up when a colleague or acquaintance contacts you about an opportunity or needs assistance?

When you respond fast in every case, even if the answer is “can you send me more information, it will help me to give you the right answer” or “sorry, I can’t help you” you solidify your reputation as a trustworthy person who can be relied upon for timely follow up and honest feedback.

It is a competitive world and creating a personal brand of integrity has the ripple effect of increasing your day-to-day luck because people will remember their experience with you.

When and How to Follow Up with Leads

About three weeks ago, I was looking for a certain type of service. I clicked on an ad on Google and filled out a contact form for the advertiser to reach me. It was during the week so I figured a sales person would call me or at least follow up by email the next day.

No response.

Three weeks later, I got a very generic email. If you take out the type of service, which I blurred in the picture below, you could apply this email to virtually any service. Plus, the odd part is that their response was about me reselling their service, which is not what I inquired about at all.

This is a sad story. The company had paid Google for the click on their ad, gotten a qualified sales lead and then effectively threw it away because they didn’t follow up in a timely manner or with relevant material.  (Pssst… the letter was for concierge services. Would you have guessed that?)

Their lead generation campaign is generating sales leads. Yet nobody is following up the right way. They are wasting their money.

Follow Up the Right Way

Create a poster board on your wall with this reminder.  When someone contacts you:

  1. Reply within 1 business day (same day if possible) by phone.
  2. If you don’t reach them, try again the next day.
  3. If you still don’t reach them, send an email.
  4. If you haven’t gotten in touch with them in a week, send a follow up letter by email – or better yet record and send a personalized video – using this sample text:

John, thanks again for reaching out to us last week about our services. I’ve been unable to reach you via phone or email. I know you’re busy and I appreciate your interest in finding out whether our services would be a good fit for your company.

To help you make an informed decision about [your type of services], I will periodically send you our email newsletter. It contains a wealth of material that you might find useful for your business. When you are ready to connect, reach me at [phone number or email]. All the best, [signature].

If they haven’t followed up with you after several initial attempts, they may not be a qualified lead. By sending them your company email newsletter filled with educational – not sales – material, you stay on their minds so that when they are “sales ready,” they think of you first and reach out.  By then, you will have solidified your position as a trusted source so they will very likely take your call.