Business is a complex world. There are so many intricate pieces of the puzzle for success and many of these factors we can’t control easily. However, for those that we can, we need to control well… especially when it comes to new business!
New business can be a fast and cheap world, but that should never be the case in consultative selling. Fundamentally, people who generate new business follow this simplified process:
In and amongst this process there are many factors to consider and control in order to achieve the best outcome.
One big factor for success in managing prospects through a pipeline is leveraging the power of following up. Something so simple, but an etiquette that subtly shapes any relationship towards success or failure.
Why are follow ups so important?
First and foremost, they demonstrate a level of respect. Regardless of how the conversation went, if you suggested a follow up, or you were asked to, it is vital to follow through with that commitment. It is important to note that following up is usually necessary even if you hadn’t agreed to do so. Whatever the reason for and method of the last interaction (whether email, face-to-face or over the phone) there is always a possibility that clear “next steps” may not have been outlined. In these cases it’s even more important to do so.
Following up shows the prospect that they are valuable to you and that you’re taking an interest in them specifically. It builds the relationship and trust between you which is of vital importance both now and as you move further down the new business pipeline. There are many studies across numerous disciplines from economics to psychology that examine the art of selling. These various studies quote a conflicting numbers of “touch points” that are likely to result in winning new business, typically ranging from 3-17. However what cannot be denied is that some touch points are needed.
A prospective customer may be on mailing list or engage with social media posts, but nothing is more in our control than following up with somebody directly. This is a powerful and simple touch point. In the age of technology and reduction in real human interaction, following up is a tangible way to connect with prospects. If somebody opted for an email follow up and you haven’t heard back – simply give the prospect a call. We are all busy and overstimulated, so a lot of the time these things simply fall off peoples’ radar. It’s your responsibility to maintain a presence in your prospects lives’, because if you don’t, your competitors will.
Just to clarify, it’s not advisable to pester anyone and you should only follow up when there is a reason to do so. This leads me to my next point – a follow up needs to have an agenda and next steps. For instance, “I was calling to check how your website development is progressing? Oh no, sorry to hear you’ve had a delay. Shall we speak in a week’s time?”… and obviously follow through with the commitment.
Following up not only builds relationships on a micro-level, but helps manage your new business pipeline more accurately on a macro level. Effective follow ups will help clarify specifically where a prospect is in the buyer’s journey and ensure that you’re able to appropriately align your offering to their needs and timescales. Each follow up is an opportunity to discover new insights and share more experience – an alchemy of need and solution.
There are so many things that can be done to support new business and new technologies are being introduced every day. However, the reality is that we are all human and something as simple as a follow up call may be the only nudge a prospect needs to generate a new business opportunity for you.