Creating Great Follow Up With Your Clients in 7 Simple Steps

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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Referral Week 2009: Can Your Referral Make the Difference?

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: Be on Time to Your Business Networking Group

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).

Successful Networking: Mastering YOUR 60 Second Commercial

Yesterday I visited a Business Networking International (BNI) group in Del Mar. BNI is a group of business professionals who meet weekly to exchange business referrals. I was asked to come and fill in for one of their members Rick Itzkowich owner of Productive Learning and Leisure and writer for the Xtraordinary Living Blog. BNI requests members to have a substitute when they are not able to attend the meeting.

It was a lively group at 6:45 a.m. and they were very welcoming. As the meeting progressed we arrived to the presentation portion. BNI typically has a few members speak more in depth about their business and the type of referrals they are looking for. At this meeting Riley Cardwell, a business coach and BNI Director for San Diego was attending so the leadership skipped the member presentations. Riley did however do an amazing presentation on creating your successful Sales Manager Minute (SMM), or what to say when you are at a networking event in 30 to 60 seconds. Here is what Riley discussed:

 

Part 1

Your Name

Your Company Name

What you do

 

Part 2

Briefly describe ONE of the products/services you offer

BNI calls this your LCD or Lowest Common Denominator. What you want to do is break down your service or product into its most basic from (LCD).

A plumber might talk about replacing old piping in the house, a financial planner could discus the value of an IRA, Real Estate Agents may talk about how they work with first time home buyers.

 

Part 3

What will your product or service do for the referral you’re looking for? Why do they buy this from you?

What you really want to describe here is the benefit of your product or service. Telling a brief story is often very helpful. Riley asked a few of the BNI members what their benefits were.

  • Suzanne Rhodes with Proforma Pepper Promotions offered employee retention as a benefit.
  • Bob Johnson with Coronado Catering talked about the joy of experiencing your party by allowing Coronado Catering to handle all the work.

 

Part 4

Do the Ask!: “The referral/introduction I’m looking for today is…” What to look for (WTLF); be extra-specific.

Tell your sales force what action to take for you. Give them a “conversation starter” What to say for you (WTS).

The idea here is to ask for the contact at a specific company you are trying to meet or when someone is at a party with friends you want them to know what to listen for which may lead to the referral.

  • Cal Campbell owner of Cal’s Plumbing, Inc. said to listen for people complaining about lack of hot water.
  • Gretchen Seitz, L.Ac. owner of Seitz Acupuncture told the group to listen for people who are suffering from migraines.
  • Dr. Rhonda Lilien a Chiropractor with La Jolla Integrative Health asked the group to look for people who had difficulty turning their head.
  • John Naviaux, Registered Investment Advisor Representative with Western Financial Advisors offered the group a (WTS), “I know a financial advisor that has access to a lot of investment options”.

 

Part 5

Your Name

Your Company Name

“And Remember… (memory hook)

A memory hook is something you say at the end of your SMM that helps people remember who you are. Most times these are catchy phrases that relate to what you do. Here are some examples:

  • Promotional Products: If you want them to remember you, then remember me!
  • Plumber: If your pipes don’t flow you know where to go
  • Caterer: Little or small we cater them all
  • Chiropractor: When your spine s in line, you will feel fine!
  • Financial Planner: Doctors save lives, I save lifestyles

Why not take a moment and review your 60 second commercial to insure you are covering all these parts. A successful Sales Manager Minute or 60 second commercial can easily double your referrals in your networking group. This process will increase the number of referrals you are receiving as well as make your networking group far more dynamic.

Networking: New Clients, Prospects, Referrals, and Lifelong Friends

Friday night I spent some time at a good friend’s house. My friend is turning 50 today and I have been tasked with keeping him out of the house while his wife gets things ready for a small gathering of friends. Still not sure what I am going to do for three hours but I am confident we can figure out something!

This morning I was thinking about where this friendship started. We first met through a networking group called LeTip. Each week we saw each other for a few hours and then would go on to the rest of our day. Early on we chatted and he let me know someone he knew represented my company and if he decided to use my service he would use them. I mention this because I really had written this person off in regards to networking. I was still nice, talked to him, and looked for ways to refer him, but I had zero expectations of ever receiving referrals or business from him.

Networking for me is not about what I can get from someone, it is about what I can give. Each time you give someone a referral, help someone through a business challenge, or connect two contacts together without expecting anything in return you are giving. Ivan Misner the founder of BNI often talks about this with his givers gain philosophy. The theory here is if you are always looking for ways to support your network then in turn your network will support you with business, contacts, and referrals. Ivan also talks about this in his new book The 29% Solution, 52 Weekly Networking Success Strategies in week 5 and has a recent article about the book on his Networking Now blog on entrepreneur.com.

I really live this givers gain philosophy in all areas of my life. So many examples of wonderful things coming to me when I have least expected it. One of them is the lifelong friend who I have the pleasure in celebrating his life and birthday today.