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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A Simple Step to Start Receiving Business from LinkedIn!

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

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: Simple Steps to Insure Your Success

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!

Of Course I have a Referral and Follow Up System!

A referral and follow up system…  You may be asking yourself what do I need that for?  I was reminded about a pretty well know fact after reading yesterdays post on Duct Tape Marketing by John Jantsch titled My Most Excellently Flawed Referral Survey.  The survey questions had to do with the percentage of your business coming from referrals or word of mouth.  Here is what John found:

69.3% felt over 50% of their business came by way of referral and yet, 79% further admitted they had no well-defined system to promote referral generation.  The conclusion is we know how important referrals are yet we don’t take the time to create a system to attract them!

John also asked if you are not getting a consistent flow of referrals why not?  20% of the participants of the survey just skipped this question!  Maybe after realizing so much business comes from referrals and acknowledging they have no system that thinking about why was just too much must for those in the survey to handle?

For years I have heard and seen similar numbers like this.  Business owners and top sales professionals say things like the live for referrals yet if I ask the simple question of what do you do when you receive a referral I more often than not get a blank stare.

Receiving more referrals is pretty simple and there are many ways to do this.

  • Simply asking your customers for referrals or people they know who can also use your product or service is a great place to start.
  • Making sure you acknowledge and reward the referral senders will naturally grow the amount of referrals you receive.  People will enjoy helping you and when you acknowledge and appreciate them and will in turn help you more.
  • Staying top of mind with your customers, prospects, and referral sources will generate more business and referrals for you.  You can do this by calling, emailing, sending greeting cards, and newsletters.  Staying top of mind is customers and prospects is about creating a relationship.

The best referral and follow up system I have seen and used for years is SendOutCards.  When used correctly you can create an explosion of referrals with very little effort.  The reason for this is SendOutCards is a great system and once set up can go on autopilot.  You can learn more about SendOutCards and how it might work for you by visiting this site.  Fill out the contact information and I will call and talk to you about it personally.

Whether you use index cards, Excel, Outlook, SendOutCards, Act!, Goldmine, Saleceforce.com, or any of the many other CRM tools on the market the important thing is you use one.  Commit to a system, spend the time to get it set up to work for your business, and then use it no matter what!  The benefits of using your referral and follow up system will outweigh any time or pain you might feel getting it started!

So tell me, what system do you have?  What are you doing to increase your referrals and follow up with your clients and prospects?

Create a Strong WHY to Achieve Your Goals

I last talked about how creating a strong WHY is an important step in your follow up and sales success.  The why is a fantastic motivator to push you to make one more call, mail one more thank you card, or follow up with one more prospect.

Last week the importance of a powerful why kept coming up as I had many discussions regarding this concept with colleagues, clients, and prospects.  Over and over again this was part of my conversation in my meetings, from private conversations, conference calls, and even when I was conducting a training for a group of entrepreneurs.  Today I decided to share a small part of my why which is what really keeps me going at a pace that seems to baffle some of my closest friends.

My main WHY, goal, purpose of my life, reason why I do what I do be stated in one sentence, one I Am statement, one vision:

I am positively effecting the lives of millions of people through humanitarian projects I personally create, fund, or participate in.

This is the main reason why I do what I do, the reason I make a few extra calls when I want to stop working for the day, the reason why I keep going, pushing, and working towards all the other goals I have.  My why makes all the day to day things seem small, it makes any negatives neutral, it makes disappointments last moments instead of days, weeks, or months.  It is what keeps me on my path.

As I am writing I am thinking about how my why is already becoming a reality.  It has been happening for years and it seems every year I am getting closer and closer to achieving my why.  From building homes in Mexico, supporting micro banking and water projects through Rotary and Kiva, or working on my newest cause the Global Hug Tour, MY WHY is happening!  This year alone being a part of the Global Hug Tour team will allow me to touch the lives of over 100,000 people in a positive way.  The local projects funded by the Global Hug Tour can easily impact 10, 20, or 50 thousand additional lives.

I hope you understand why I decided to share this with you today.  My hope is by sharing my why you will think about yours and by really identifying yours you will have all the success you desire!

Please take a moment and tell us about your why or how this post has inspired you to take action in creating a powerful why by leaving a comment.

To learn more about the Global Hug Tour please take a look at the website and if you are on Facebook please support the tour by becoming a fan!

John Assaraf on the Power of Why

This week I had the great opportunity to meet will John Assaraf to discuss the Global Hug Tour, a great new cause inspired by Gail Goodwin from Inspire Me Today.  The purpose of the meeting was to discuss how John and his company One Coach might play a role in the tour.

During our meeting we had a conversation about the why behind the Global Hug Tour.  John was very passionate about having a strong why.  If your why is strong enough then the how will become clear.  The Global Hug Tour is a huge project with many moving parts which seem to be growing bigger with each day.  The important part of this project is everything is coming together.  Because the why is so strong it allows the how to truly present itself in the form of people stepping up to play a role, people buying hugs to support the tour, and both private and corporate sponsors taking a big interest in supporting the tour.

Bringing this back to follow up…  How does having a great why help you in follow up?  Follow up is one of those things we all know we should do!  Having a great why will help you take the action steps like following up to achieve your desired goal.  Your goal might be additional sales, revenue, customers, or referrals, whatever your goal is make sure you have a powerful why to keep you on track!

For anyone who may not know, John Assaraf is the founder of One Coach, was in the wildly successful movie The Secret and his current book The Answer: Grow Any Business, Achieve Financial Freedom, and Live an Extraordinary Life is a New York Times Best Seller.

Zappos Pays Employees to Quit!

There was a great article in the current Inc. Magazine titled The Ultimate Business Tune-Up For Times Like These.

The article listed 23 things you can do right now to energize your employees, wow your customers, and get your business back on track.  One of the ideas from a previous Inc. Start-Up Blog post was from a great company Zappos titled Pay employees to Quit!

During the first month of training, Zappos offers new employees $2,000 to quit, plus their time worked!  This may sound crazy but to Zappos it’s a matter of costs…  The cost of training an employee who is not happy or does not fit the company culture is far more than $2,000!  Zappos wants people who are passionate about customer service and who love their company culture.

I know for me I am always attracted to companies who seem to have a passion for what they are doing.  If I receive a follow up call from a new contact or someone who wants me to purchase their product I listen for the passion.  How many times have you purchased from someone just because you felt inspired to support them?  Have you ever been price shopping for a product and found a sales person or company who was so passionate that you decided to stop looking and just purchase?  Do you see how valuable passion could be for you?

So if passion is so important to a company like Zappos it might be something you should consider as well.  Whether you are an employee or the owner of a business or an entrepreneur passion is one of your best assets.   Why not take a look at how you are doing in regards to passion.  You might just find an opportunity to light the fire of passion within you!

LinkedIn: Great Follow Up Tool or Complete Waste of Time?

One simple question I ask every new contact at some point during our first meeting…  So are you on LinkedIn?  The answer to this question can be very surprising!  I have heard everything from “No, Yes, What is LinkedIn?, LinkedIn?  What a complete waste of time!, I think I am on LinkedIn, I get invites but just ignore them, or I am on LinkedIn but don’t know how to use it.”

So is LinkedIn one of the most powerful sales and follow up tools available or is it just a complete waste of time?  I know for myself LinkedIn has proven to be a very powerful tool for connecting to new prospects, passing referrals, and keeping top of mind with clients and prospects.

The opportunities on LinkedIn are extensive!  In fact I just wrote a post on Square Martini Media titled 7 Top Reasons LinkedIn is a Must Have for Your Business.  This is a must read article to learn why you should be using LinkedIn!

So what are you waiting for?  Set up a LinkedIn account or find your password and get ready to learn some simple ideas to help you attract more clients and increase your sales using LinkedIn!  Over the next few weeks I will going over the 7 Top Reasons LinkedIn is a Must Have for Your Business.  When you find that password or set up your new account make sure to invite me to your network!

Top 10 List of Books To Help Your Clients Kickoff a Fabulous 2009

So here we find ourselves past the holiday season.   We now have a great opportunity to make a positive impression on our top clients and referral sources!  Sending books to top clients and referral sources is one of the most memorable follow up strategies I use. It’s creative, different, and is just not done enough!  The following are my Top 10 books to send to a business owner or top sales professional for 2009.  In choosing this selection I found myself thinking of the many types of clients and referral sources i have.  This selection should include a great title for any possible business owner or sales professional which may be on your list.

#1 The Greatest Salesman in the World by Og Mandino

“At last!  A book on sales and salesmanship that can be read and enjoyed by veteran and recruit alike!  I have just completed The Greatest Salesman in the World for the second time-it was too good for just one reading-and in all sincerity, I say that it is the most readable, most constructive and most useful instrument for the teaching of sales as a profession that I have ever read.” F.W.Errigo, Manager U.S. Sales Training Parke, Davis & Company

#2 Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
“At American billionaire Andrew Carnegie’s bidding, Hill studied the characteristics of these achievers and developed 15 “laws” of success intended to be applied by anybody to achieve success. Think and Grow Rich! condenses these laws further and provides the reader with 13 principles in the form of a philosophy of personal achievement.” Wikipedia

#3 Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki
“Rich Dad Poor Dad is a starting point for anyone looking to gain control of their financial future.” USA Today

#4 The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell
“Fascinating enough for the general reader, Gladwell’s work is a particular boon for businesspeople looking for inspiration on how to top their own ideas into popular crazes.” Publishers Weekly

#5 The 8th Habit by Stephen Covey
“An absolute must-read for aspiring business executives who want to significantly increase their personal effectiveness in the workplace and at home.  Covey has created a brilliant blueprint for both career and personal success in the new millennium.”  Douglas Conant, President and CEO, Campbell Soup Co.

#6 Tribes by Seth Godin

“Tribes is a must read for all of us.  It’s up to each one of us to lead in today’s new kind of world.”  Bill Bradley, Former U.S. senator  Tribes is one of my favorite reads of 2008!  It’s is truly inspiring, showing the value and simplicity of becoming a leader.  Keep an eye out for my future post on Tribes.

#7 Beach Money by Jordan Adler

“If you plan on building a large successful network, I recommend reading Beach Money.  Jordan’s stories are inspiring and each one has something that you can put to use immediately.”  Ivan Misner, NY Times Best-selling Author and Founder of BNI

#8 E-Myth by Michael Gerber
“The mythic and often disastrous assumption is that people who are experts regarding technical details of a product or service will also be experts at running that sort of business.  Many small business owners eventually realize that just as they had to learn the technical skills, they have to learn business growth and management skills.”  Wikipedia

#9 Excuse Me, Your Life is Waiting by Lynn Grabhorn

“I can’t believe it.  In the three months since reading this, I’ve almost doubled my sales and settled a couple of long-standing problem in my marriage.  I’m recommending this book to management.” O. T., Regional Sales Manager

#10 The Four Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferriss
“Stunning and amazing, from mini-retirements to outsourcing your life, it’s all here.  Whether you’re a wage slave or Fortune 500 CEO, this book will change your life!”  Phil Town, #1 New Your Times bestselling author

#11 101 Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies by Gwen Steege
Number 11 in my top 10 just to check and see if you are still reading!  Honestly the best gift and easiest way to bribe me is with homemade chocolate chip cookies!  Who can resist that?

I could have easily listed 20 more books in this top 10 so if I am missing one you think should be on the list please leave a comment with your suggestion and why you think the book should be on the list.  The more selection and recommendations the better!

In writing this post I kept thinking back to my corporate career.  During the holidays I would receive well over 20 boxes of candies from clients and vendors.  The candy made no lasting impression due to the amount I received.  A book is completely different!  If I received a book during the first few weeks of the New Year it would stand out amongst all the previous gifts.  I would remember who sent the book to me and it would positively affect our relationship.