The How, When, and Why of Effective Follow-Up

A 2014 LinkedIn study found that salesmen are 4.2 times more likely to set up an appointment with a buyer if a good relationship exists between the two parties. If you’re hoping to improve sales, nurturing relationships with non-clients and current clients is essential to success. The key to those relationships? Follow up.

A 2014 LinkedIn study found that salesmen are 4.2 times more likely to set up an appointment with a buyer if a good relationship exists between the two parties. If you’re hoping to improve sales, nurturing relationships with non-clients and current clients is essential to success. The key to those relationships? Follow up. Still, many salespeople don’t follow-up out of fear that they’ll be pestering their clients. This is a mistake you can’t afford to make. It’s hard to know how often you should be following up, or even how to best follow up without being annoying. While everyone has their own best practices for following up with clients, there are a few things that ring true no matter what industry or client. Here are a few tips to help improve your follow-up strategies:

HOW: Consider Various Platforms and Strategies

There are several different ways to initiate a follow-up: There’s the classic phone call or the trusty “just checking in…” email. But no matter which avenue you choose, the first attempt at contact should always be specific. Remind the client why you’re following up and ask directly what they need from you. The shorter, the better.Remember, though, that every client follow-up should not be the same. Know your audience. Some clients may prefer reading an email to receiving a phone call. A few may even like the occasional shout out on Twitter. If you’re not sure what your client prefers, try out a few different ways, and find which method they are most responsive to.If your style (or your client’s preference) is more hands-off, AJ Agrawal, CEO of Alumnify, suggests making a general FAQ to send after a sales pitch or a mockup of your services and products. While they may not speak to you directly, providing these resources ensures that they’ll be able to find an answer to questions they have. Maybe your client prefers to use social media. For these clients, consider tagging them in relevant articles or company updates that might affect them. A simple, “this reminded me of you,” tweet is a gateway for online interaction. Social media is an ideal platform to reach out to clients as it allows merchants to translate helpful information in an informal way— making the interaction feel natural and, therefore, less annoying. Each client is different and will respond to different approaches. In the end, the best platform for following up is the one that enables you to have a conversation with your client. Once you know how you’re going to follow-up, it’s time to strategize how often.

WHEN: Make It A Positive Experience For The Client

A common reason business people don’t follow-up with clients is because they don’t want to seem pushy. A good way to avoid that feeling is to make your follow-ups a positive experience for the client -- have a purpose for each follow up that will make your client appreciate your reaching out.For instance, at SwipeSum, we offer quarterly audits to ensure our clients aren’t paying extra fees. We also reassess their payment processor each year. These offerings give us a reason to reach out to our clients at intervals throughout the year, taking away any surprise element and giving us the opportunity to make sure they’re satisfied with our services. A way to get started with your own follow-up strategy is to ask your clients their preferences. Ask them if they want to be notified of new promotions, or if they only need personal contact in relation to their account.If you don’t really have a concrete reason to follow up, keep an eye out for your client’s business in the news or follow the company blog. If you see that they’ve reached a big goal or some change has occurred in the company, use that as a reason to reach out. Just sending a quick message lets them know you care. Clients will be impressed that you are paying attention to the happenings in their company.

WHY: Improve Relationships, Improve Your Business

There are several reasons why you should follow-up: It facilitates relationships of trust and encourages better communication, and so much more. Businesses should want to give their clients the opportunity to be heard and a follow-up can provide that. Follow-ups also give business owners a chance to understand where they can improve. The information merchants receive can allow them to improve products and services and show that they value their customers’ opinion. This, in turn, makes clients feel appreciated which will increase the chances of repeat business. A fool-proof follow-up strategy is the best marketing tool a company can have (hint: it’s free, too). Your follow-up doesn’t need to be a grand gesture. Simply opening up lines of communication can go a long way and with today’s technology, it’s easier than ever before. Stop losing clients for something as simple as not sending an email. If you want to see your pipeline increase with past, present, and future clients, use these tips to create a follow-up strategy that keeps you ahead of the competition.

Taft Anderson

Taft Anderson is the former Product Marketing Manager of Swipesum. A graduate of Washington University in St. Louis' Olin Business School, Taft is a content and branding expert.

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