by Jacob Firuta @ June 20, 2012
The art of follow up

First impressions, as important as they are, don’t always net you a lead or a sale. Nurturing your leads is as important as acquiring them. To make successful attempts at converting visitors that resisted the initial pitch you ought to learn the art of follow up.

Third time’s a charm?

Oftentimes, you can have a potential customer arrive at your page, be very interested in your initial pitch and generally seem like a sales opportunity that simply can’t go wrong. However, in general, the sale won’t be made until 5th to 12th contact.

With impulse buying on the rise, e-commerce site owners allocate a lot of resources into technologies facilitating this purchase trend. Mobile owners seem to be the aim of such campaigns and are prone to impulse buying. The purchase power that comes with it seems unmatched in the mobile heavy tech environment.

Even though impulse buying can be used successfully, most of the sales require some additional contact. This is where following up comes into play. It gives you another go at a particular sales opportunity, one that had a chance to develop to some degree.

The buyer already had a chance to learn about your product, maybe even declared interest in a particular aspect of the offering. You have a lot of information that will help with the follow up already available. You don’t have to begin the sales process from scratch, which may significantly increase your success rate.

keeping potential customers interested

If you don't keep them interested, the initial fire will die out, just as well as your chance

Kindling the fire of their interest is as important as gaining it in the first place. If you simply rely on the first contact with your potential customers and won’t do any follow-ups, you might find yourself in a situation where you allocate a lot of time and effort to gain very few clients. Following up on a previous call or e-mail on the other hand keeps the case alive and doesn’t require a lot of effort.

Go for it!

In a situation where a visitor already knows your product and some attempts to convert the visitor have been made, the worst thing you can do is back out and not follow up. You shouldn’t be afraid that you might seem forceful – it is better to make some effort than to make no effort. Follow up on your pitch with an e-mail or a phone call within a week or so. The potential buyer will certainly appreciate the extra attention he is receiving and maybe that extra attention is just the thing that will convince him to make the purchase.

Another thing you should remember is that you don’t need to worry about not getting an answer right away. We lead busy lives nowadays, having to attend a lot of matters during the day and it is easy to miss an email or a call. In such situations, simply make another follow up after a while. As I mentioned previously, most sales aren’t made until the 5th to 12th follow up so one or two not answered e-mails/calls don’t mean the end of the world for that particular sales opportunity.

Get to know them

One of the great opportunities following up creates is building a relation with your prospects. Throughout the course of a few calls and e-mails you really get to know them and their potential desires and hesitations. Having that information is the key to making the sale. When you specifically know what your potential customer needs and which points of your offering are still unclear for him, you are able to prepare a customized offer for him, one that would address his needs and get rid of his hesitations.

nurturing leads

Nurturing a lead is like watering a flower - you have to give it time and attention for it to bloom into a sale

Creating such relation works both ways too. The potential buyer gets to know you and your company, sees how much effort you put into making sure he gets the product he really needs. These things are priceless when it comes to the sales process. No pitch can buy you that. You can make thousands of calls and none of them will result in such relationship with your client. These things need time and the follow up is a great way to give yourself and your client a bit of that time.

The successful follow-up

Just as your relationship with your customer develops, your offer must develop as well. It has to be adjusted to the needs of the specific prospect. Through following up your goal is to learn what your client wants, i.e. which parts of your offering he is interested in and which parts are stopping him from making the sale. This can take a couple of e-mails or calls, but in the end, your customer ends up with an offer that he simply can’t resist.

Here are some points a follow up should include:

  • Let the potential customer know who you are and what are you contacting him or her about
  • It is good to make a reference to your previous conversation, this will help the potential customer to identify you among all the other offerings
  • Make sure your prospect knows you want to find the best possible solution for him or her
  • When following up after a call with an email, it could be useful to summarize the call, set some goals for the next call and propose a date for it

Remember that you can also follow up after the sale process have been completed. This boosts the confidence of the buyer and convinces him about his choice, earning you a faithful and long-lasting customer.

Carefully preparing your follow-ups, learning about your customers needs and modifying your offering to fit those specific needs is what makes the follow up such a successful sales tool. Having all that additional information seems like a way better course of action than making a number of blind calls, without any follow-ups. It takes only a few e-mails or calls to be that much closer to your customers – every e-marketeer should make use of that power.

Photo courtesy of Dawn Huczek, Uli H. and Images_of_Money.

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