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With more competition than ever across most industries, the customer is spoiled for alternative options. This leads to more rejections that can leave entrepreneurs discouraged and defeated.
Add to that the decreasing open rates of emails, increased ad cost and now, the effect of privacy wars between companies such as Apple and Facebook, and you could see your reach diminishing daily.
The solution is to create a strong and automated follow-up game that builds a solid relationship over time while avoiding being annoying or pushy. This is truly an art and one that the following four steps will help you to develop within your business.
1. Demonstrate your desire
Market research from Harvard Business Review found that 30-50% of sales go to who responds first — a telling sign of the short life span of online leads.
This highlights an important stage of follow-up: the initial response. By responding quickly, you show your desire to work with the other person or company. This also shows respect to the time, importance and urgency that may be present for them. Many sales reps, or even people going for a freelance job role, make the mistake of assuming that their desire for the role or contract is obvious to the person they are meeting with.
Your initial response can clearly state what interests you about working together, what you feel both parties can benefit from and can explicitly state that you would like to earn their business.
Related: The Art of the Follow-Up
2. Demonstrate your dedication
Marketing Donut, one of the UK’s leading sources of market research for small businesses, found that 80% of sales require a minimum of five follow-ups after the initial meeting, yet 44% of sales reps give up after one follow-up.
Clearly state your dedication to help them solve their problem, and re-iterate how you can provide the solution. When making decisions, people often fall into the habit of following their fears or limiting thinking. By demonstrating your dedication, you show them the person you will be and get them to feel the support that you’ll provide when you work together.
Just last week, a client of ours was unsure of how to respond when her proposal for a corporate contract was unanswered. So, many assumptions were made, and it left her feeling deflated. The solution? A simple follow-up email.
Instead of further jumping to conclusions, the decision was made to add value into the follow-up because of the possibility that the first one didn’t grab attention or even get read. The result? A quick response stating that the initial proposal wasn’t seen, and that they would review it and come back for further discussion.
The amount of lost money as a result of a lack of follow-up could potentially solve all of the hunger problems in the world! Ironic that those lost sales could be captured by more “hunger” and eagerness to follow up.
3. Stand out by speaking up
The follow-up is not like a notification on your phone from a calendar appointment or text message from a friend. It isn’t meant to simply nudge or poke the prospect into a response. In today’s market, the psychology of the buyers is evolving, and they will see through tactics that are rooted in any attempt to push someone into submission to make a sale.
One of the best ways to follow up is to demonstrate how you can help them — by actually helping them. You can do this by speaking up about what you have observed or assessed along the way.
Using these simple questions, you can design your follow-up interactions to help you stand out by demonstrating your expertise and willingness to help:
What issues are there in the blind spots of the organization or in the representative you’re communicating with?
What are some missed opportunities that you can help them capitalize on?
How are they getting in their own way, especially by stalling moving forward?
Why is it important they take action now, and what potential pain of inaction could there be?
4. Open the door to potentially turning a “no” into a “yes”
If you do get a flat-out “No” as a response, then you can still work at turning that into a “Yes.”
To do so, you’ll follow up (of course) with a request for feedback as to why you missed out on the opportunity and what you can work on to be more competitive or attractive to their organization in the future.
During this interaction, you have the opportunity to gently state your case and handle the objections that come your way. This is an important part of showing your value to the organization when faced with adversity or challenge.
This is not an audition for the Marines, so leave the high pressure, aggressive tactics to the drill sergeant, and instead, be warm, accepting and solution-oriented. State how you are interested in helping to fulfill the needs of the organization and the role/position at hand, and open the door to a “Yes” down the road.
The neuroscience behind these 4 steps
What you are doing is getting the decision-maker, or gate-keeper, to create a neurological image and connection to you successfully getting the role, even if it is in the future.
Once this has been done, the resistance to hiring you has all but faded, and you are now in a much better position to cycle through these four steps, show your desire and dedication, and see if they may consider working with you. Implement these four steps into your business, and start to benefit from this simple fact: The fortune is in the follow-up.