Follow up seems to be a pretty dirty word in the service business. There seems to be this thought that you’re either a fit or not and the idea of chasing business is “pushy” and “salesy”.
I’m here to call this what it really is:
I’m not going to bore you with endless statistics but we all know by now that 80% of sales come after the 5th to 12th contact. That said, how do you follow up in a cool and classy way without it looking like tacky “Just checking in” type follow up.
This guide will help you get a strategy together for following up with your proposals.
WHICH METHOD? PHONE OR EMAIL?
I prefer email. I always have. Partly because I’m introverted and hate phones, partly because if you use email, you can get more done in less time. I’ve had phases of using the phone more and encountered more success in terms of sales but I think you should use a mix of both.
Here’s my suggestion:
Call them after they open the proposal and respond accordingly. If the client wants a call back the following day – great! Call them.
If they don’t pick up the phone or are flaky then resort to email.
I’d also encourage mixing it up.
- Send a text or Whatsapp message
- Facebook message
- Tweet them
- Send something in the post
WHEN TO FOLLOW UP
This starts by knowing when people have opened your proposals. If you have to send follow up to know that, then you’re wasting a point of communication saying nothing from a position of power, and instead putting yourself in a position of weakness.
Knowing they’ve opened the proposal and only looked at the price vs looking at the entire thing gives you a competitive advantage.
Your competition are in the dark, trying to guess when to follow up either leaving it too long or pestering them too early. Whereas you can hit them up right when they’re at their most excited.
I’d always shoot for an hour after them reading your proposal. Strike while the iron is hot.
WHAT TO SAY
This seems to be the point where people struggle. Let’s get a few things out the way. We’re not into shitty follow up here. We’re talking about classy, value adding follow up that moves the sale forward.
We don’t need to ask them if they got the proposal – You can see that.
We don’t need to ask them if they read it – You can see that too.
We don’t need to ask them for a good time to call – You know when.
These are emails I’ve used to follow up with people who I’ve sent a proposal to. You can copy and paste them if you like and change the details, or use them for inspiration. Knock yourself out.
These are in order of how I would send them.
The Forgotten Guarantee
I love this one. Send a quick email just as they’re reading the proposal saying something like this:
Sorry, I completely forgot to add the guarantee into the proposal. I’ll do that now for you.
Here’s the gist of it – __________
People either love or hate this when I suggest this but it’s one of those things that is completely overlooked in a proposal but is actually a massive selling point. By splitting it off like this, it gives it the attention it deserves.
The New Case Study
I like this one because it says so much. It says you get positive results for people and if you frame the email like it “just came in” then it seems like you don’t just get results, you get them all the time. I’d always be inclined to put them on a landing page on your site and link them to it. Email goes like this:
Thought you might like this. About 3 months ago, a chap called Andy was referred to us with a similar issue to yourself weirdly enough.
He’s doing pretty well. I’m really pleased with the results. I’m hoping we can do something similar for you when you’re ready.
The marketing team nearly finished getting it ready for the website, but here’s the sneak preview:
Make it about the client. It’s not about sharing your new case study. It’s about knowing their business and sharing something relevant.
The Pure Value
I like this one the best and truth be told, you can use this more than once if the sales cycle is long enough and you feel the deal size warrants it.
It’s pretty straight forward. Just do something epic for them.
If you’re a social media agency, maybe knock them up a couple of cover images for Facebook and Twitter. If you’re a copywriter, maybe give them a couple of headlines they can try on their next email campaign. If you’re a marketing agency, maybe you give them a few quick hacks and little things they can do.
It’s not supposed to be desperate. It’s just coming from that vibe of being the cool guy at a party. Just share your knowledge and value. You can be sure others aren’t doing this.
Keep it short, sweet and bite-sized. Don’t write them an unsolicited essay.
I love this. Such a pimp move.
Introducing your potential clients to other people in your network who they can work with, partner with or do business with. I often introduce web agencies to each other in a similar area so they can do cross over work with each other.
Take this as far as you like. Be the guy or girl that knows other people. Make introductions.
If you’re not sure who to introduce them to, say something like this:
I know you’re not a client yet but I like to try and introduce people to my business network.
If you could be introduced to anyone at this point, what kind of person or business would it be and I’ll see what I can do? It doesn’t have to be potential customers, perhaps somewhere to do some guest blogging or an expert of some sort.
Throw it at me and I’ll see what I can do.
This is just super cool. It’s not needy, sucky sales follow up. It’s value-giving, it’s cool and helpful. Above all else, it’s just a nicer way to do business.
The Closed File
There are various versions of this email kicking around but if you’ve had enough of chasing someone and they’re just not coming back to you on anything you’ve sent above then you can safely assume they’re not going to be buying any of your stuff anytime soon.
Send them something like this. It usually gets a response:
Subject: Closing your file.
I just wanted to let you know I’m closing your file unless there’s any reason for me to keep it open?
If you could let me know that would be fantastic, otherwise I’ll close it by the end of the week.
It’s vague on purpose. Closing the file? What does that even mean? It’s vague and definitive enough to trigger a response. Sometimes you get enough of a response to get a conversation going again. Most of the time you get a decisive answer, which in all honesty is all most of us are ever after in sales.
When to give up
As Jeff Allen famously said:
“Burn it to the ground, Son!”
I have some follow-up sequences that last over a year. Ultimately, you should never truly give up.
They should just be moved to the next phase.
In terms of proposals, I think 3 months to be talking about a specific proposal is about right. That said, I’d always be going back every 6 months after that seeing if anything’s changed.
It depends on your deal size. If you’re selling £2,000 websites then it’s a fairly quick decision. If you’re selling £80,000 software solutions then 3-months is nothing in that kind of sales cycle.
Use your judgement but I will say this.
“”You can follow up a lot more frequently and a lot longer than you think you can without being annoying.””
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