The subtle art of follow-up
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The subtle art of follow-up

The subtle art of follow-up

The significance of following up, touching base and pursuing a client is key to closing a deal, but it’s all about how you do it

Peter Heredia

Following up after having a chat or a meeting with a prospect is an integral part of the sales process. Its purpose is to keep you and what you can offer at the top of your prospect’s mind. When done right, following up conveys a message to a potential client that you want to work with them, that you are the right person for the job, and that you are excited to get started.

Crossing the line
But at what point does following up become hassling? If you’re calling every day, or emailing every ten minutes, you are being a pain. It’s important to respect a prospect’s time; at least give them a week before you reach out.

When prospects don’t call you back
So, you meet a prospective client. They seem delighted by you and what you can offer, and are happy to chat about working together. Following the meeting, you send them a “great to meet you” email, but you don’t get any response. So, why haven’t they called?

The fact is that they’re probably busy with other things: work pressure, vacation, kids, or a multitude of other things that life throws at them. In such situations, keep prospective clients “interested and engaged” by making yourself useful and relevant. It’s all about: “How can I serve you?”

Even if you are disheartened, don’t give up. Remain humble and polite when you reach out again –  each call, email or message should be as respectful and modest in attitude as your first one was. To give you an example, I recently worked on a deal to roll out a global sales development programme. The prospect, the CEO of the company, had made it clear to me, when we met at an event, that he was interested in taking the deal forward. When I emailed him asking if he was ready to have a call, he replied very nicely, but clearly stated that he would contact me when he was ready, and that there was no point to follow up until then. I knew I had to stay “top of mind”, but I had to respect his request: no sales talk.

Two weeks later, I sent him an article that referenced the event we attended, adding some helpful comments. He replied within the hour, and didn’t mention the article or my comments, but asked when we could have that call to roll out the programme.

Another effective strategy to elicit a response is to find out which communication method works best for them. Some clients never answer my calls, but always respond to WhatsApp. Others don’t use WhatsApp but prefer to respond by email.

Stay on track
It’s not practical to keep calling someone after getting a negative response. However, don’t let that deter you from your goal: ensure you have a strategy in place and continue pitching your product or services to different clients. Your persistence will result in success.

Peter Heredia is the managing director – MaxSales Solutions, sales coach and author

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