Every sales prospect has the potential to become a paying customer. The biggest obstacle most businesses face between finding and converting prospects, however, is following up. It takes time, effort, and careful persistence which not all business owners have the means to do. But don’t worry! With these simple tips, you can ensure your prospects are followed up with in a timely, responsive, friendly, and helpful way to increase your chances of landing that sale or even a lifetime customer.
Tips for Following Up with Potential Customers
Unfortunately, making a sale isn’t as easy as leaving a bid and walking away. The process of following up on bids doesn’t have to be complicated, though! These tips can help.
1. Have patience. It might be tempting to follow up a day after leaving a bid with a potential customers, but you’ll want to give them some time to process and digest the information you’ve provided them. Try not to be overly anxious about your follow ups and give your prospect about 3 to 5 business days before contacting them. After leaving a bid, potential customers know the ball is in their court, so you’ll want to avoid making them feel pressured. Understand that your prospect likely received other business proposals or bids as well, and they’ll need time to discuss them within their organization and gauge your bid against your competitors.
2. Make your first follow up call. While there are ultimately many different kinds of follow up calls, but after leaving a bid you’ll want to follow up in a non-pushy, friendly, and helpful manner rather than following with the sole purpose of closing your sale. When you call your prospect, assume they have forgotten all about your pitch and remind them; ask if they have any questions. This is a good, roundabout way to gently remind your prospect about your proposal as they may not have read it completely or may have forgotten to address it entirely after getting distracted with other tasks. Given that this initial follow up call is often just a reminder, the likely outcome will be that your prospect agrees to revisit your bid and that you will set up a more concrete time to discuss it in the near future. Getting and keeping your foot in the door starts with this call.
3. Show the value you have to offer. The second time you speak to your prospect, you’ll want to demonstrate how you can offer them or their company value. Re-emphasize the positive impact your bid or proposal can have on their organization. Share some general “free” ideas and insight regarding how your can improve their business. Give them a reason to want to move forward with your bid! For example, you might want to say, “John, in our previous conversation you mentioned how important it was to you that you increase your company’s savings before the end of the fourth quarter. I’ve been thinking more about how we can help you eliminate redundancies, reduce costs, and drive growth and I have a solid plan for you. How do you feel about setting up time to talk so we can get you moving forward before the end of the year?”
4. Ask the right questions. You not only want to understand what your prospect is thinking about your bid or proposal, but it’s a good idea to gather general feedback as well. In addition to asking your prospect if they have any questions about your bid, if they need any parts of your proposal clarified, and/or if your bid aligns with their company’s goals you’ll want to collect feedback on the proposal or bid itself. You may not always like what you are hearing, but feedback (both positive and negative) will help you leave stronger, better, more successful bids in the future. The kind of insight that comes directly from your target customers will almost always help your sales improve.
5. Your objective should be getting an answer. Haven’t been able to reach your prospect via phone? Try multiple channels like sending an email, a Facebook message, or direct message on the company’s Twitter account. If you haven’t received a direct “yes” or “no,” keep trying without being overly persistent. If you receive a “no,” that doesn’t necessarily mean this prospect is dead in the water; there are many reasons prospects may not be interested in your services or products (timing, finances, etc.). Being considerate and friendly even to people or organizations who aren’t interested in your bid could lead to future sales, networking opportunities, and more.
6. Always say “thank you.” Rather than immediately ignoring a prospect who turns down your bid or someone who still isn’t sure if they are willing or ready to make a purchase, remain professional and thank them for reading and considering your bid as well as taking the time to speak with you on the phone. If you are gracious and kind, you just may make enough of an impression for them to want to do business with you at a later date.
Even if, after following these follow up steps, your prospects is still unsure about your bid, if they are willing to engage you in a dialogue about your business and/or proposal, the doors aren’t shut just yet. Someone who agrees to keep the lines of communication open (even without set dates and times) has seen something they appreciate within your bid and they can always become a happy customer later.