You’ve heard this one before, right? Follow-up was something that I let fall through the cracks more often than not early on in my business, but it really is where you can find all the money!
Ok, I’m just going to be real with you on this one and say that I do not have the perfect (whatever that word means) follow-up system figured out. And that my own follow-up system is constantly improving. I have a weekly task that pops up on my To Do list every Friday, and if I have any active leads I’ll go in and check my spreadsheet, send a thoughtful email, move on to the next.
It isn’t perfect. But I’m doing it. Which, surprisingly, puts me in the minority. Because something like 75% of business owners don’t follow up with prospective leads after the initial point of contact. And the stats on multiple follow ups drop sharply.
The even more shocking statistic? 80% of buying happens after the fifth point of contact.
Which means that roughly 15-25% of business owners are getting 80% of sales. Because the other 75% are hoping that the person just screams, “yes, take my money!” on the discovery call and they don’t follow up after that.
The follow-up can be really fucking draining.
This is just real talk, y’all.
Most of the time I don’t even get a response from the first handful of follow-ups at all. And that can make you scratch your head and ask, “Well, what’s the point of this if they’re not even going to courtesy respond?!”
And in the words of Stephanie Tanner—”how rude!”
But something like only 10% of first follow-ups actually result in a closed sale. They aren’t ready to decide yet (really, if they were, they would have said yes on the call), they’re coming up against money mindset issues, they have to wait till their next payday, or they just flat out don’t see the value…yet.
Your job is to make them see that value. And if they didn’t see it on the call, then a really great time to show them that is during the follow-up.
(I’ll just go ahead and insert here that if you don’t want to work with this person at all, it’s totally ok to never follow up at all or send a Dear John letter.)
A really great follow-up system starts before you even chat with a lead.
You 100% should be checking out your clients before you chat with them. Every time. I think literally everyone in a service-based business should do this. Maybe not so much coaches, but if you’re a VA, OBM, graphic designer, copyeditor, etc., etc. you should absolutely do a little internet stalking before you hop on a call with someone.
Client websites, social media, and sales pages are a fantastic way to learn more about them. Are they a mom, dog lover, into politics, super woo? Is their website laid out well, clear, well formatted, easy to read, and easy to navigate? Do they post regularly on social media, get a lot of engagement, use a scheduler?
Obviously, don’t stalk outside of your purview. You probably don’t care if their website is well laid out if you’re just there to transcribe their podcast.
But these items are all great things to note so that you can either mention it in the call or follow up about it later. Or both! Both is even better.
Follow-up emails should be three things.
#1 Subtle. It is not necessary to beat prospects over the head with the “buy now!” rhetoric that makes everyone think of a used car salesman. Definitely not in every.single.email. you send. It’s gross. They won’t like it. And you probably won’t like writing it.
Remember all that social media stalking you did before the call? Here’s where it comes into play.
But for fuck’s sake don’t be creepy about it by letting them know you stalked them all the way back to their high school graduation. Think more like adding an adorable cat or puppy GIF in the email if they have one or the other.
#2 Conversational. You’re a person and they’re a person, and working with other business owners can often be a very personal thing. You take pride in your work and you want that to reflect well on both your business and theirs. So be conversational when you email them.
If they mentioned that their kid is sick on the discovery call, you can ask if the kiddo is feeling any better. I followed up with a woman over several weeks (who eventually hired me) by asking how the complicated process of selling her house was going. This shows that you were paying attention to the little things while they were taking valuable time out of their day to talk to you.
#3 Helpful. I think people often skip this one when they do follow up. If they follow up at all. There’s a big stigma around giving away too much information for free. If I give it away, they won’t hire me!
But if you’re in a doing profession where your job is to do something the client can’t do, isn’t good at doing, or doesn’t like doing, then the odds that they’ll take your helpful info and implement it themselves is low. It’s not totally unheard of but pretty rare, in my experience.
So be helpful. Make suggestions. Lay out a plan of how you would help them or what working with you might look like. Solve one of their smaller problems or give them a quick win. You don’t have to include a step-by-step graphic on how you would fix a specific problem. But a brief overview of how you might take some things off their plate and give them time back in their day could make all the difference in whether they decide to go with you or another person they spoke to.
The money is in the follow-up.
Remember that 15-25% of business owners end up reaping 80% of the profit when it comes to closing sales because they follow up! Typically, 5–8 follow-ups is standard. Spread them out in a way that makes the most sense to you. I like to follow up on Fridays, but I gauge whether it makes sense to do it every week or every other week on a person-by-person basis.
When you follow up you are simply moving yourself back to the top of their busy mind so that when they are finally ready to hire or they do get that invoice paid or they work through the mindset issue that’s holding them back or they narrow down the list of candidates to a few…there you are, waving at them from the top of their mind.
Do you have a follow-up routine? What’s your best tip for following up regularly?