Like I said in my recent post Lead Generation Isn’t Your Biggest Problem, I don’t believe that lead generation is the biggest challenge for most small businesses. I actually think it’s lead nurturing and continuing to farm your existing or past clients.
As many of you know, I’ve been delivering an educational program called Summer School for Small Business. And I can pretty much prove my point with some examples from our first class. You know I’m a stickler for taking action and each session in this summer school program has an in-class homework element where I get the participants to actually complete one of the actions I talk about in the session. In our first session, each participant was asked to write out 2 hand-written note cards and send them to a past client or a prospect that needed some follow-up. At our next session, just 2 weeks later, I had 3 participants tell me that they had new business opportunities as a result of those cards. And one individual received the opportunity to submit an RFQ for a project worth about $65,000–a project he wouldn’t have even known about had he not sent the note card.
Because the follow-up is so important, I’ve listed below several ideas to assist in building a lead nurturing program that results in closed business.
1. Follow-up Friday. I don’t really care what day of the week you do your follow-up–the point is–just book a timeslot on your calendar and book it and then do it. Putting it off will not close business. And for this concept, I’m simply talking about taking an hour and running through the list of active prospects you have and determining what they next steps should be with those prospects.
2. Hand-written Note Cards. Keep a supply of hand-written note cards at your desk and be sure to send out a couple of cards each week. In some cases, you may use them for follow-up to a new prospect or you might drop a note to a referral partner and thank them for the referral they gave you last week.
3. A go-to article of interest. I suggest keeping a file with a few key recent articles on certain topics relevant to your prospects. As you encounter prospects and learn about the problems they are trying to solve, send them a copy of an article that is relevant to the discussion you had with the individual. You get points for 1) remembering the specifics of the conversation and 2) for sending out something useful and 3) making it even more memorable by sending it in the mail rather than electronically.
4. Send out one of your favorite books. We all have favorite books and authors in our industry and sending out a copy of a book does wonders to close business. I suggest keeping a few copies of certain books on hand as a surprise thoughtful way to touch prospects over time. Generally, your prospect isn’t expecting you to send out a book so this is something that can help you to stand out among your competition, especially if your prospect is shopping around.
5. Invite the prospect to attend an industry event with you. I’ve found this also to be a useful way to help build your relationship with prospects because it shows that you’re paying enough attention to want to introduce them to other contacts that might be great resources. It shows a level of confidence and generosity that seems to be rare so it will also help to make you memorable.
And finally, with your follow-up, be sure to identify the timeline that makes the most sense for follow-up in your industry. If you’re a nail salon, more frequent follow-up is necessary as the buying cycle is short. If you’re a consultant, the follow-up should follow some level of the length of the typical buying cycle. Some general rules are first follow-up should happen as quickly as possible, and thereafter every month or so. Some of that follow-up might your newsletter to keep yourself top of mind and whenever you also have something relevant for that prospect.
Once and done marketing does not product results and is extremely expensive if you’re not creating a follow-up system. I’d love to hear about any other follow-up routines or activities you’ve had success with. Share them in the comments section below.