Awhile ago, I was attending an event and I met someone who offered a service I needed. We exchanged cards and promised to be in touch when we returned home.
When I got home I turned over all those business cards to my team member as usual to enter into our database for follow up. It was about a month later when I realized this potential vendor had not contacted me or followed up with me. I no longer had the cards so I couldn't look through them and I couldn't remember her name or her business name and I didn't have the time to comb through my database looking for her.
Needless to say, she didn't get the project. And the sad part was I was ready to give it to her,that was why I thought of her a month later. But she hadn't followed up so she never got a chance to get the business. I ended up finding someone else.
The morale of the story -- you need to follow up with your prospects. Period.
Look, I know you're spending a lot of time and money attracting leads into your business. You're networking at live events, networking virtually using social networking, blogging, speaking, and probably a million other things.
So when those leads DO flow into your business, are you following up with them? Are you treating them like the gold they are?
I see this mistake happen over and over again. Entrepreneurs spend so much time and effort to bring leads home and then they never follow up. All those business cards get piled up on their desk never to get into a database. They have every intention of sending out a regular ezine for those online leads but somehow it never gets done. They rarely pick up the phone to connect with a warm (or even hot) prospect.
And then they wonder why their business isn't growing and they struggle getting clients in the door.
There's just no substitute for following up. (Have you heard the saying "the fortune is in the follow up?") Giving someone your business card is NOT the same thing as following up with them. You're relying on them to not lose your business card AND to remember the solution you offer when they're ready for it. That just isn't realistic.
You need to be the one to initiate, build and maintain the relationship. You need to be the one to remind the prospect about the solution you offer and how it will transform their life. Not the other way around.
Now I realize you've probably heard this before and you probably already know it. So if you're not consistently following up, why not? What's stopping you?
Most likely it's 2 reasons -- time and fear.
You're busy and you don't have the time to properly follow up. And you're afraid you're bugging your prospects if you do follow up.
I get it. I really do. I was there myself once. But here's the thing -- if you don't get over those 2 issues, you're never going to grow your business or enjoy consistent cash flow.
So here are 2 quick fixes to help you get started:
1. Who said YOU have to be the one to follow up? Get some help! Notice in my story I said I handed the business cards I collected to someone on my team to enter into my database. I did not say I was the one doing the entering. Have someone help you. (And the best part is you can probably justify the cost of this help because it directly impacts your bottom line).
2. Follow up doesn't have to be calling people up and asking for work. Do things people will look forward to getting -- send them articles, tips, or maybe something funny that entertains them. Think about ways you can stay in contact with your prospects that's not about just making sales calls.
Remember, it typically takes 7 "touches" before a prospect turns into a client (and in the "new" economy it's probably going to take a lot more). So don't be discouraged if you're first few attempts don't turn into anything. Be persistent and consistent and eventually you'll see your hard work paying off.