While completing projects for a client, I often work with another small business or two. Unfortunately, one surprising thing keeps happening.
Over and over.
Over and over.
OK, I’ll stop saying that and tell you what they do.
They simply stop following up. Presumably after they’ve been paid for the work they’ve done.
Why in the world would they want to do that?
The side effects of not following up
Most of the time, the client provides us with more work. Sometimes other consultants leave without having completed their part of the project. Or perhaps, they completed their task and the client is ready to assign another.
Don’t they want to earn more money?
In leaving without following up, they not only lose more business but also new clients. These clients and the other consultants on the project won’t be referring them. It could also potentially affect their reputation as the client and fellow consultants may not be shy about telling others that they’re not reliable.
You can bet I didn’t refer their companies to clients who needed their services.
Had they done a good job, they could’ve landed a new client. All without doing a single bit of marketing. All they had to do was their job in making the client happy. The client isn’t the only one who may be a source for referrals. Other consultants like me can too.
In fact, consultants from different companies may have complementary services to make it worth partnering up. They can also become a referral source for each other.
For example, I worked with another consultant on a project. Years later, he contacted me out of the blue and had work for me. I’ve also landed work from other consultants on the project who referred me to others.
Your clients are your best marketing tool. It’s easier and cheaper to grow your business with referrals from current clients than it is to find new ones. Small Business Market Research Sales and Marketing Report from InfusionSoft has found that 72 percent of new business comes from referrals. People trust recommendations from people they know.
That’s not the only follow up you can do to grow your business.
How to stay top of mind
The other is to consistently send emails to nurture leads.
A client asked me if I knew anyone who could do XYZ.
Right away, I knew who I was NOT going to recommend. That person left a client in the lurch. Nonetheless, I struggled to come up with a name of people I could recommend and trust they’ll do a good job for a client.
My brain refused to cooperate. I knew that somewhere in the deep recesses of my little grey cells, there’d be a name.
None came to mind.
Within a week or so after that, I received an email from someone who does XYZ. This was a business I could recommend. And I forwarded the name to the client.
See what happened here? Our little grey cells hold a ton of information. We can’t always access it when we need it. Thus a follow up is a gentle reminder. Follow ups put you top of mind.
Doing effective follow ups
The trick is to be top of mind when the client needs your business. And the way to do that is to send consistent, useful and relevant messages.
Consistent. Not a flood. There’s a difference.
Useful. Not self-promotion. There’s a difference.
Relevant. Not off-topic. There’s a difference.
Don’t send too much in a single message. You want to spread them out so you have a good reason to email them again and again. (No flooding!)
“But what about self-promotion?” you wonder. “How am I supposed to get business if I don’t sell my product or service?”
Extending follow ups
Excellent question. Let’s say you have a monthly email newsletter. Every issue contains an article and a handful of useful, curated content from other websites. These can make up about 80 percent of the newsletter. The other 20 percent can be testimonials or a call to action such as encouraging people to sign up for a webinar.
When they sign up for your webinar, you’ve found another avenue to stay top of mind. You’ll send them consistent messages about the webinar.
Here’s how you can follow up for webinar:
- Thanks for signing up. Here’s the webinar login.
- One week until the webinar: Send an email along the lines of “In the meantime, you might want to read up on the topic with this free white paper.”
- Ready for tomorrow’s webinar? Here’s the info so you don’t have to dig it up.
- Did they attend the webinar? If yes, go to 1. If no, go to 2.
- Thanks for attending the webinar. Here’s the recording and promised handout.
- I’m sorry you missed the webinar. Here’s the recording and promised handout.
That’s FOUR follow up opportunities right there in between email newsletter issues.
What did you learn from this example?
Creating a follow up process
It’s important to plan your follow ups. Companies with an effective content marketing strategy create a process flow for all their emails and follow ups. The most effective companies have multiple process flows based on where the prospect is in the buying journey: cold, lukewarm, warm, and hot.
There are all kinds of names for the different stages. Some companies divvy prospects into three groups, others in four and still others in more. The point is that they have different processes based on a prospect’s current stage.
Remember, you may not make the sale the first, second, or even tenth time. It takes many follow ups before the prospect hires you. Keep trucking. Keep sharing useful content.
Once you land that new client, be sure to do this easy, cheap way to grow your business.
Image credit: Marco Marveggio