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Master the Art of Following Up to Grow Your Business

by Shawn Karol Sandy, on Sep 27, 2019 12:00:00 AM

If you are in sales (and if you are a business owner you ARE in sales) you have probably heard over and over “the fortune is in the follow up.” We know we have to follow up… but how? If you're running a business you're already wearing multiple hats, changing them out—maybe several times a day. You may feel overwhelmed because you know there are things that fall through the cracks. You are already weighed down with the day to day tasks, keeping things afloat and you can’t imagine adding “follow up with x, y AND z” to your already long to-do list.

While there are many resources for the HOW to follow up (here, here and here are great places to start), today let’s focus on the WHY it is important to follow up.

First, recognize the following:

Building relationships is building your business

Relationships are the building blocks to a successful business. If you take the time, make a plan, and follow through, you will soon realize that following up is not optional. Following up with customers (many times over) is the best thing you can do to dominate your industry, and stand out over 90% of your competition.

Let me rephrase that, most people are not following up.

Take a look at these Sale Statistics:

  • 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.
  • 2% of sales are made on the first contact.
  • 3% of sales are made on the second contact.
  • 5% of sales are made on the third contact.
  • 80% of sales are made on the fifth to twelfth contact.

There isn’t enough time!

Trust me, I have been there. But I felt a real kick in the pants when I read this quote:

Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein. ― H. Jackson Brown Jr.

We are all busy and life is constantly moving forward without our permission. When it comes to following up with potential clients and building relationships, it easy to fall in the trap of a time-poor mindset (i.e. I don’t have time, There aren’t enough hours in the day, I have too much on my plate). 

If you feel time-poor, take a moment to look at the time-wasters in your life. What can you streamline and simplify to create more space in your day so that you do have time for what is important in business development.

Working in sales can be stressful, but it is even more stressful if you don’t follow up with potential leads because your funnel doesn't have anything going into it for future growth.  Not only is it stressful, it’s embarrassing and discouraging. Losing client contact info, dropping the ball on sending requested information, or giving up just because doesn’t seem interested is a sure way to lose sales fast. Let’s look instead to what the industry leaders are doing? What systems and processes do they have in place to simplify, streamline, and automate their work? This frees up more time to acquire new leads and close more sales all without losing any potential clients from previous engagements.

Be sure to check out: The Best Way To Increase Your Close Rate Is To Stop Selling And Become A LION

Using a CRM (Customer Relationship Manager system) is the first place to start. A CRM replaces that stack of 1000’s of business cards, typing everything into excel, or carrying around a notebook that is easily lost. There are many options available, do your research and find what tools are suited best for your industry. I highly recommend you start here.

So once you have a system and process in place, how can you really excel in relationship building? By staying consistent and getting in the habit of building relationships every day.

Success lies in the work you are avoiding

The best way to do this is to do the work you are avoiding first! You know the tasks I am talking about. THAT phone call, THAT check in with the potential client etc. etc. I know we would all just love to start the day slowly. Getting settled in at work, drinking coffee, and writing to-do lists. We really to need to acknowledge this for what it is -- procrastination in disguise of busyness or “planning.”

Instead, write your to do list at the end of the previous work day, so that the next morning you can start by hitting the ground running, always starting with the tasks you don’t want to do first. By the way, most experts agree: checking your email is the worst way to start the day.

Everyone wishes that they could just do the easy parts of the job or the tasks they enjoy doing. But we all know successful people do whatever it takes to reach their goals. Think about professional athletes or olympians. Do they only do the training regiments that come easily? Or are they committed to following through because they know that without being fully committed they will not win? Treat your business like it’s a marathon. Put the time in now, so you can plant the seeds for your future success!

Don’t start the day with "I don't want to do my follow up work today” say “I MUST do my follow up today." If a business is built by nurturing relationships, why aren’t more people doing this? Why do the majority quit after the first contact?

Wanda Allen, the author of Follow Up Strategies, says there are many reasons. One of them, of course, is the ego. If you are operating out of fear it is because of the ego. It could be:

  • Fear of rejection
  • Fear of the word “no”
  • Fear of not being good enough
  • Fear of being perceived as too pushy

She even addresses directly the fear we all have of that two letter word -- "No". Get comfortable with the word in all forms of hearing it and saying it. You should not be in sales if you do not want to be told no. GO FOR THE NO. A no is better than being ignored.

To get out of this cycle of fear, just keep practicing and over time you reach a point where it doesn't matter what their response is. It will eventually roll right off your back. Wanda encourages people to get comfortable with being uncomfortable.

It won't take long before you start to see the harvest you will reap by remaining consistent and planting the seeds now.

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