Creating a Follow Up Strategy

Date July 31, 2009

alan-underkofler-house-of-bluesLast week I had the opportunity to speak at the Cool Twitter Conferences at the House of Blues in Hollywood.  My topic for my discussion was Using twitter to Attract More Clients, Increase Your Referrals, and Maintain Top of Mind Awareness With Your Customers.  It’s a big topic about using twitter one of the hottest social media sites as a follow up tool.

I started the discussion with a question…  Are you giving business to your competitors?  The answer for many businesses is YES!  Have you heard this before?  “The fortune is in the follow up” or the really overused yet clearly correct “People do business with people they Know, LIKE, and TRUST!”  These are great statements and both are true yet many businesses do not have any follow up strategy and don’t really understand how to create the “know, like, and trust” feeling with their clients and prospects.

So what is a follow up strategy?  It’s about creating a system for follow up which will be used with every new client, prospect, or referral source.  The system could look something like this:

New Customer Follow Up System:

  • Day 1  – new customer welcome email
  • Day 1  – new customer welcome card
  • Day 1 – new customer welcome tweet on twitter
  • Week 2 – follow up phone call checking to insure client is happy with purchase
  • Week 4 – follow up card “It’s been 30 days since your purchase and we want to make sure you are happy”
  • Week 4 – follow up tweet on twitter similar to the week 4 card
  • Week 8 – follow up phone call just “checking in”
  • Week 12 – follow up card Discussion additional products or services you might offer

I can keep going but you have the idea right?  The best way to increase your referrals with your customers and clients is to have a follow up strategy in place.  Of course having it in place is only the first step!  You must be committed to your strategy, you want to make sure once you start following up you keep it going!  You might want to read a previous post, Creating Great Follow UP With Your Clients in 7 Simple Steps where I went into more detail about this process.

Do you have a follow up strategy?  Please take a moment and tell us what you are doing by leaving a comment.

Two Simple Follow Up Strategies for Speakers and Presenters

Date June 30, 2009

Two very simple follow up ideas for Speakers and Presenters.  Yes even Speakers and Presenters need to follow up!  This week I had the wonderful opportunity to speak at the Encinitas Rotary group about using Social Media to follow up and engage customers.  I have to admit the setting for this discussion was perfect, the room was right on the water with a wall of glass facing the ocean.  The room felt like the ocean was coming right in with each incoming wave!

After the discussion I had spent some time outside listening, viewing, and enjoying the beautiful day.  When I was about to leave I decided to make this short video on follow up to share with you how I will follow up with the members of this group.  Here is the video:

Two simple steps:

  • Send an email to each person thanking them for the opportunity to speak at their meeting
  • Mail each person a thank you card

As a Speaker and Presenter why would I want to take these two follow up steps?  I can think of many great reasons but I will focus on the basics.  It’s about building upon the relationship I have started.  This group just listened to me talk for an hour.  To this group I would be considered an expert or go to person in social media, follow up, and referral strategies.  The opportunity from speaking is to continue the relationship!  If I do this effectively I will naturally receive clients, referrals, and additional speaking engagements.

Are you a speaker, presenter, or trainer?  Please let me know the methods you are using to follow up with your audience by leaving a comment.

Creating Stronger Relationships with Follow Up

Date May 12, 2009

Follow up is crucial in creating relationships with your clients and prospects.  The number one reason business owners and sales people give me when I ask them why they don’t follow up is “I don’t have time”.  When I hear this I think to myself you can’t afford not to have time!  I also think the excuse of “I don’t have time” is really the business owner or sales professional self sabotaging their own success.  I have discussed many systems and follow up tools to help you automate the follow up process which makes the excuse of not having time seem crazy.

Think about this…  If you are a business owner or sales professional how many new clients did you receive last year?  Is it 10, 50, or 100 new clients? Now approximate the total sales or commissions you received from each client and divide this by the total number of new clients from last year.  What is the number or average value of each client?  Is it $200, $2,000, $20,000, or $200,000 in sales or commissions?

It does not matter what the number is.  What is important is that you understand what the value of one client or prospect is to you.  For example let’s say the value of one client is $2,000.  The next time you think to yourself I don’t have the time to follow up realize this thought can be a potential loss of $2,000!  If you retain your average client for 5 years this would be $10,000!

The number one reason you will lose a customer is not from price or a competitor knocking on their door every week.  The number one reason is the feeling of indifference.  Clients start looking elsewhere when they feel unappreciated.  This can easily be solved by having a simple follow up system in place.  Imagine if you implemented a system that could not only insure your clients felt appreciated but would also increase the lifetime value of each customer.  Increasing the life of your customers by just one year or more could make a huge difference in your business.

I encourage you to leave a comment and let me know what your follow up system is.  Are you following up with email, newsletters, post cards, greeting cards, phone calls?  What are you doing to keep strong relationships with your customers and clients?  If you need help creating a follow up system or just would like me to evaluate your follow up system please contact me.

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Creating Great Follow Up With Your Clients in 7 Simple Steps

Date April 28, 2009

Today I was listening to a great podcast by Dr. Ivan Misner the founder of BNI on Networking Now about following up with your clients and creating touch points. Dr. Misner offered 6 steps in creating touch points with your prospects and customers. After listening to the pod cast I ended up with seven steps!

Step One – Spread out your contacts! Many people do great follow up in the first few months of making the sale and then the follow up seems to drop off. Maintaining consistent follow up or touch points through phone conversations, live appointments, email, newsletters, and greeting cards should be the goal.

Step Two – Train your clients to expect to hear from you. Be consistent! If it makes since for your business or product to meet with them once per quarter than make sure you always meet with them once per quarter. Your clients will begin to plan on hearing from you and will make time to see you.

Step Three – Make each contact lead to the next contact. Let your customer know when they will hear from you again. If you are meeting every quarter, ideally you would schedule the next quarterly meeting before leaving. If you need to follow up with additional information make sure to let them know when they can expect from you.

Step Four – Assume responsibility to make contact. As the sales person or business owner it is your responsibility to maintain the relationship. Remember customers who don’t feel appreciated or feel they are not being taken care of will naturally start looking for someone else. Keeping consistent contact and taking responsibility for the relationship will help your to maintain your customers for life!

Step Five – Invite customers to networking events. If you have found a great networking event make sure to invite a few of your customers for the next one. Invite them to your BNI group or a local chamber of commerce. If you are in Rotary or Kiwanis invite them to your next meeting. Seeing your customers every week or every month at a service organization or networking event will help you create a stronger relationship. Not to mention if you have found new clients at these groups your customers may as well.

Step Six – Create a plan and stick to it. If you are consistently following up with your customers your customers will naturally start contacting you. The key is to not break your consistency. When your clients contact your don’t restart the clock or change your pattern. Stay on your same touch point schedule and this will just encourage more interaction.

Step Seven – Once you have your plan implement a system to make this easy. For each element of your follow up or touch points do whatever you can to put this into a system. Systems mean automatic! Automatically your news letter will go out every month. Automatically your outlook calendar or salesforce.com reminder will pop up. By having a system you guarantee consistency in your actions.

It’s important to remember following up with prospects is a must but having consistent follow up or touch points with your customers is equally as important. The goal for this follow up or touch point system is not to sell. The goal is to create conversations. The conversation might be:

  • How can I help you?
  • Are you satisfied with our product or service?
  • I was thinking about your business today and thought of a few additional ideas for you.
  • How can I make this service work better for you?

Through conversations you will create stronger relationships. Through these relationships you will receive more businesses and the best part is you will receive referrals!

Are you using a system now? Please leave a comment and tell us what are you using in your business for follow up and touch points!

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A Simple Step to Start Receiving Business from LinkedIn!

Date April 7, 2009

When I ask a new contact if they are on LinkedIn the common response I hear is yes I am but I have no idea how to use itLinkedIn is a great Social Network for business but for many people they just don’t understand what it can do for them or have any plan in place to really engage the people they are connected to.  So today I decided to talk about how I handle new contacts on LinkedIn.

For me of course it all comes down to follow up!  Follow up is the key to really get things moving on LinkedIn!  So what do I mean my follow up?

This week I set aside some time to go through my LinkedIn invites.  In the end I accepted invitations from about 100 pending connections.  After viewing each connection request I sent a simple email to each new LinkedIn connection asking them for a 20 minute meeting with the goal of learning more about them and to explore how we might be able to help each other.

Here is the email I send out:
Hi Shane!
Thank you for connecting on LinkedIn! Let’s set up a 20 minute meeting to learn more about each other and our businesses.  The goal would be to explore how we might help each other.
How does your schedule look for next week?
Alan Underkofler

My expectation is to have about 20 people accept my offer to talk on the phone and explore how we might help each other.  Taking this one follow up step with each new LinkedIn connection allows you to start a relationship which leads to new business and referrals.

So there you have it, a very simple step to start the conversation with your LinkedIn connections.  So tell me…  What do you do to maximize your connections on LinkedIn?

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Can I Give You A Referral?

Date March 19, 2009

On my last post I highlighted Make A Referral Week 2009. The goal was to generate 1,000 referrals to 1,000 deserving small businesses in one week. I am happy to report the goal was met and I am excited to see Referral Week happen again with a much larger goal!

This week I had the pleasure of talking to one of my favorite people Stuart Manley from ChannelPoint, Inc., a Toronto, ON human resource company specializing in cross border HR. After talking to Stuart I thought of another friend Art Kriegsmann. Art is the CEO of H.R. SERV., Inc. based in San Diego, CA. The conversation with Stuart prompted me to refer both Stuart and Art to each other. I referred them because they both specialize in different areas and could possibly be a great referral source for one another.

The example points out one of the most overlooked referrals we can make. We all love to receive direct referrals which will lead to a new client. Sometimes our best referrals are not a direct referral but someone who can continually give us referrals over time. Creating referral partners, power partners, or fantastic referral sources should be a major part of your referral strategy.

To create a referral source think about the businesses in your network who may serve your ideal client. Possibly a company you notice working with the same clients you have. Once you identify such a company or industry reach out to them and talk about the possibility of sending referrals to one another. This strategy could make the difference of your business maintaining sales this year or possibly growing another 10, 20, or 50 percent! And for those of you who may watch the news or if you happen to still read the paper… Yes I did say you can grow your business in this economy!

If you are still reading this post I have one question for you. Can I give you a referral?

Do you have a company or client you have been trying to reach? Do you know who your ideal client or referral partner is? How can I or the readers give you a referral? Leave your referral request as a comment and let’s see if we can help each other!

Referral Week 2009: Can Your Referral Make the Difference?

Date March 4, 2009

Make a Referral Week 2009 is March 9-13, can your referral make a difference?  We are all hearing the negative talk about our economy!   Many businesses, sales people, and entrepreneurs are complaining and contributing to the negativity.  But what if you can make a difference?  What if you made one referral today?  Could you inspire others to do the same?  Can this effort have a profound impact on your business as well as those in your business network?  The creators of Make a Referral Week seem to think so!

The goal for Referral Week 2009 is to generate 1000 referred leads to 1000 deserving small businesses.  This seems pretty simple to me and I am hoping you will participate in this positive approach!  Here are some simple steps to help you create your referral:

Over the next few days think about the people in your business network.
Listen to the conversations with your customers. What are they looking for?  What do your clients need?
Simply match those customers and clients with someone in your businesses or referral network.
Visit the Make A Referral Week Counter Page and tell them who you referred!

For great referral strategies John Jantsh is hosting a live conference call on Tuesday March 10th featuring Bob Burg, author of the Go-Giver, Ivan Misner, founder of BNI and Bill Cates, author of Get More Referrals Now.  This should be a great call teaching the strategies of referrals.  Just check out Johns post Have Your Made Your Referral? to register for the call.

Will you participate?  Will you help one those people in your network and give them a referral?  Will your referral start a chain reaction of more referrals?  We all can make a difference in turning around this economy!  The question to ask yourself is are you willing to give one referral?

make a referral week

Networking Basics: I don’t Wear a Name Badge! Everyone Knows Me!

Date February 24, 2009

I definitely have to admit I have fallen into this trap many times!  It does happen, you go to a Chamber Mixer or a Rotary meeting every week and feel like you know everyone and everyone knows you…  While this may or may not be true you still must where a name badge!

The bottom line is while everyone may know or recognize you, it is very possible they do not remember your name.  For this reason alone people may avoid you rather than face the embarrassment of not knowing your name.  Of course most groups have a flow of visitors consistently attending to check out the group.  As a member of any group you want these visitors to feel welcomed!  Name badges make it easy for visitors to interact with members.  Name badges help create a great experience for the visitor.  A visitor who has a great experience visiting a new group is more likely to join when you follow up with them!

My last thoughts on name badges are where to put them.  I mean does it really matter where you place your name badge or is it good enough just to have one?  While thinking about this I am remembering all the people I have met with name badges placed on a shirt which is great except they were wearing a jacket which completely covered the badge.  I have no great study which proves one area is better than another.  I do know when I go to shake a hand of a friend or someone I have just met I reach out with my right hand.  Because of this I always wear my name badge on the right side of my shirt so when I reach out to the other person they can clearly see my name badge. This allows the person to easily use my name in conversation and actually makes them more comfortable around me.

If you really want to meet more people consider wearing your name badge everywhere you go!  Realtors and Mortgage brokers seem to do this a lot.  What about you?  Can you be the guy who wears a name tag everywhere?

I know this is pretty simple information and to some of you maybe too obvious.  The bottom line is wearing a name badge to every event is great business networking habit which we all must have to insure our business networking success!

Networking Basics: Be on Time to Your Business Networking Group

Date February 18, 2009

Being on time is a very simple thing to do and yet it is very simple not to do.  Over the years I have been in many different types of networking groups for a variety of companies and projects.  There is something about the message being sent out by the members that are consistently arriving late or leaving early.  Business networking is very similar to dating in that first impressions make big difference.  If you are consistently late at a networking event it leads people to believe you may be late to all of your meetings.

Does being late really make a difference in your business networking success?  I know for me when I see this in a networking group like BNI, LeTip, or a weekly chamber of commerce group I am less likely to give the habitual late person a referral.  The reason is each referral is really an extension of me and my reputation.  If I refer my best client or referral source to a member who in turn is late meeting with my contact this reflects negatively on me.  My personal network is far more important to me than just giving someone a referral!

If you are habitually late and want to know simple ways to change your pattern read this great article, 5 ways to stop being late by Penelope Trunk.

So the next time you are getting ready for your business networking event or BNI meeting, maybe you should skip responding to that email which just showed up in your inbox and instead arrive 10 minutes early to your meeting (on time).

Networking Basics: Simple Steps to Insure Your Success

Date February 16, 2009

Over the next few weeks I will be discussing networking basics to insure your success!  Some of these may seem very simple or obvious and that is because they are!  It’s funny but I find the simple and obvious things, the steps we know we should do, are the very things we neglect to do!

Why is this?  Are we just looking for ways to sabotage our success?  Do we do this consciously or unconsciously?  What is it that prevents us from doing the things and steps we know will insure our possibly guarantee our success?

Recently a friend asked me, “What would you do if you knew you could not fail?”.  Thinking about this question brings another question to my mind…  How many, projects, careers, or dreams are you playing in right now?  In your career are you playing at 10%, do you have a dream you are working towards, yet only putting a 20% effort into it?  What would happen if you played at 100%?  What would happen if you knew you could not fail?  Would you play at 100%?  Would you take the small steps everyday to guarantee your success?

For some reason I am reminded about a post on Seth Godin’s blog, How to be Remarkable.  It’s a top 10 list on how to be remarkable to your clients and a must read.  You will find being remarkable is just like having success!  It’s not hard, there is no magic to it, it’s just a few simple steps done repeatedly over time!

Keep a look out this week for the Networking Basics!  Each time you read one think about how you are playing in networking, think about how you might improve or add one of these basic steps to have the success you are looking for!  If one of these basic steps comes to mind now, take a moment and leave a comment so I can add it as one of the steps for everyone!