Submitted by Claudia Lowry, Executive Director, BNI North and South Peninsula, South Africa
It’s a great feeling when you receive a referral. You feel a sense of validation, that you are worthy, and that someone was confident enough in your skills to recommend you.
But, alas, you just don’t seem to be converting the referrals into sales. You do the check.
Phoning the lead within 24 hours – check!
Follow up with an email – check!
Wait a week and follow up once more – check!
Still no bites!
You ponder for days on what could be wrong. Are the referrals just weak? Does the referee just not understand what it is you actually do? Is it that you are charging too much?
It could be all of those, but most times, it is because you are not providing value in the follow up.
The follow up, once initial contact has been made, is a key part of conversion. At the time of first contact, the prospect may not have been ready for you and your wonderful product or service. Hence, why a follow up is necessary.
But, often times, many treat the follow up as a “Hey, remember me. Just following up. No, not now? Oh, okay, no problem. When you are ready.”
Well, you just blew your chance of adding value and probably sealing a deal. What went wrong there? Plenty!
Here are a few tips on how you can add value to your follow up calls or emails:
1. Special Offers
Add in a dangling carrot. Who doesn’t like specials, right? Sure, remind the client that you spoke to them a week or so ago, and you are indeed following up to check whether they are ready to chat. But, by slipping in a special offer, related to what they are interested in, if you can, will leave a sweet taste in their mouth. Who knows, from there you may even lead them to buying into something more than they initially had a need for.
2. Deadline Reminders
Often times, the prospect needs something by a certain deadline, but when you phoned the first time, they were far away from that deadline. Be savvy the second-time round, and keep a note and a reminder of that deadline. That way, you can use the reminder of the deadline as a reason to be phoning. They will surely be impressed that you remembered.
3. Know your client
Stalking is good for a few things, promise! So, check out the prospect on social media – LinkedIn – Facebook – Twitter – Instagram – etc.
If you see that something happened that is noteworthy, then mention it. Keep it professional, mind you. So, LinkedIn may be the place to go, as the posts are generally all business related, i.e. A business promotion, a new job, an anniversary of a job, and such. Avoid the, “Oh, I see your granny turned 80, congrats!”
4. Solve a problem
There is always a problem to be solved. Find out what it is right from the front, and keep that in mind. If you can solve their problem before someone else can, then you’re sure to be in like Flynn.
5. Be personal
Don’t be fake! Be you! Let your personality shine though, especially when emailing. Emails can become rather stoic and too drab, leaving most with a bored “yawn” feeling. So, be sure to engage your potential new client, and let them see you are a real person, not just a salesman wanting a sale.
6. Free Stuff
Much like special offers, everyone loves free stuff! So, if you can, think about what you can offer as a teaser. Be smart about it. You don’t want to be giving away the exact solution to their problem. You want to just hand over a little candy, something to entice and delight. People generally deal with generous people.
7. Share tips
Without throwing the Google handbook at them, give them a few freebie tips. You are the master at what you do, so impart your knowledge. Givers Gain, remember! We are not proposing that you give away all your trade secrets, no, just use your initiative and find out what little issues they may have. Providing a solution or at least giving them some advice, will leave the potential new client with a feeling of satisfaction. And, satisfied is what you want them to be at the end of the day. Satisfied with you and your service.
Further, there is one thing you must not do, and that is to appear desperate. Desperate people scare referrals away. Yes, you need the business. Yes, you want the sale, but showing that you need it, is a sure-fire way of making them run for the hills.
Confidence, not arrogance, and a warm “bedside” manner, is key to bringing people into your fold. It may not happen today. It may not even happen in a few month’s time, but if you performed your initial contact, and your follow up, with grace and professionalism, you will find they will remember you when they need your service or product.