How to follow up prospective clients

How to follow up prospective clients

Are you unsure how to follow up prospective clients?

All too often I speak to small business owners who are not getting the sales they want.  They have been giving out quotes and sending information to interested parties but then they hear nothing back.  When I ask them if they have chased up these prospects, they tell me they haven’t as they are afraid of being pushy.  They think that the prospect would have gotten in touch by now if they were interested.

First and foremost, if you do make the call, visit or email, you are probably not going to be seen as pushy.  It is probably that day to day life took over and the prospect has simply forgotten to get back to you.  Your prospect won’t have the same sense of urgency as you and they will have a million and one other things going on in their life.

So don’t take their lack of interaction personally.  They are just busy.  And if you don’t give them a gentle prompt, if you leave it too long, they must just forget all about you.  In worst case scenario, your competition may make contact with them and they sign up with them so it is important that you set up a follow-up system with your prospects.

How to follow up prospective clients without seeming pushy

To avoid the problem of appearing pushy, quite simply set up a follow-up appointment at your first contact.  All you need to say is something along the lines of ‘if I haven’t heard from you within a couple of days I will give you a call to see if you have any other questions/how you are getting on/what your thoughts are etc’.

If you can make a specific appointment time, that is even better.  Don’t ask them when is best for them.  Give them a couple of options so you keep control of the diary.  Ask them which is better, 10am or 2pm on Thursday.  This gives the prospect a level of ownership of booking a follow-up call with you and so they are more likely to be available and happy to take the call.

What if they aren’t available at follow-up time?

If you call or email on the scheduled date and time and the prospect doesn’t respond, don’t panic.  Just re-set the follow-up appointment.  Leave a message or drop an email to say that you called at the scheduled time and set another time to call back.  Give another date and time and ask them to let you know if this is not convenient and to let you know when is best for them.

Do be careful not to come across as annoyed or accusatory that they were not available at the specified time.  We all know ourselves that things happen and we get busy and have to prioritise and, therefore, drop some appointments.  Be understanding that they are busy and they will be far more open to speaking to you again in the future.

The silence is deafening!

What happens if you get no response to your follow-up message or they are still not available at the second appointed time?  Contact them again with a get out clause.  Leave an answer phone message and follow-up with an email asking them if they would like you to stay in contact or whether they have reconsidered and decided you are no longer suitable for their needs or just plain too busy.  Ask if the timing is just not right for them at the moment, if they would like you to call back in a few months.

You may feel scared to do this as you feel they will automatically use the get out clause, but if they do, they are not your ideal customer and you are just wasting time.   Even if they do say they don’t want to do business with you, just thank them for their time and say that you will make contact in 6 months’ time to see how they are getting on and if circumstances have changed.  You are then leaving the door open for future opportunities.

If you put a procedure in place and follow these simple steps, you will know how to follow up prospective clients whilst maintaining a relationship so they may then proceed to purchase when the time is right for them.  These steps put you in control where you can be seen to be acting in a professional manner rather than coming across as pushy and desperate.  Even if they don’t buy from you, they will remember you in good light and may refer you to others