How to Follow Up With Potential Clients
When contacting potential clients about a project, it will most likely be your responsibility to follow up with them after the initial point of contact. Neglecting to follow up with leads can result in lost work opportunities. You have to remember that your clients are busy people, but sometimes it’s necessary to push them in order to get projects moving. There are few ways to follow up with potential clients that will help you garner better results and a healthier, working relationship with the people you work with.
Don’t Assume They Will Contact You First
Once you have a client that’s interested, it is your responsibility to follow up. Don’t assume anything – that they received your materials, that they took the time to review everything and that they are going to pick up the phone to contact you. Most times, they won’t initiate that next step.
Make It Personal
If your client is a business owner, they probably receive just as much e-mail as you do. This means that all the e-mails you send have a chance of being mixed in with all the less important items in their inbox. How do you battle clutter and rise to the top of their to-do list? Making it personal shows you don’t want to come off as dry and hostile. A good way to increase your chances of a response is to show eagerness in working together, asking to stay in touch and asking a question. This gives your potential client something specific to respond to.
Even the kind of language you use in your e-mails can promote a more personal, relaxed relationship. For example, note how different these two messages come across, even when the differences between the two are subtle:
Informal: Hey John, just checking in to see if you got around to looking at the stuff I sent over earlier this week. Maybe it got sent to your junk folder accidentally? Anyways, let me know what you think. Gimme a call if you need help. Talk soon!
Formal: Hi John. I am following up to ensure you received the materials I e-mailed you last week. Please promptly reply as soon as possible. Thank you very much. Regards.
How to Contact Your Client
Usually, your client will give you an option of ways to contact them, usually by e-mail or Skype. This means they have a preference about when and how you get a hold of them. Cold calling is a great way to follow up, and probably the most effective, but if your client if taken off guard, it can be an extremely annoying distraction for them. If you say you’re going to call your client at a certain time, you better follow through with that promise.
If your main medium of communication is through e-mail, then keep track of when you send e-mails and maintain a schedule. If you e-mailed them once with materials and documents, remind yourself to follow up with another e-mail one week later if they fail to respond.
Best Time to Follow Up
You want to remain fresh in your prospects mind. This means utilizing the best time to follow up with them. If you contact them too soon, they may not have gone through your materials. Too late, and they may have forgotten about you completely. One week after your first meeting or fist point of contact is always a good rule. Sometimes life gets busy, but your phone call or e-mail might motivate them to start taking steps forward with the project.
How to Determine Which Leads Are the Best
All your prospects are not made equal, and it’s essential to know which leads are most promising. You don’t want to drop the ball with clients who were willing to pay, but you neglected to follow up with. A good way to think about this is to give your potential clients a rating:
- Prospects who have given you verbal commitment.
- Potential clients with a budget and a project.
- Prospects with casual interest.
Pursue the client that fall within number 1 or 2 the most. Once you understand what level your leads fall under can help you determine the best way to contact and follow up with them. If a client has given you verbal commitment, it would be wise to follow up with them frequently, more so than a lead that is only somewhat interested in your services. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t follow up with clients that you rated a 3. Sometimes these clients can convert to a 1 or 2 within a few follow ups.
When to Back Off
There is a difference between being persistence and when you cross the line and become a pest. If the client is going out of their way to avoid communication with you, it is best not to waste your time. Ideally, your clients will inform you whether or not they want to continue working with you, but this isn’t always the case. If you contact them 3 times without any response, it’s time to back off. There is no concrete rule on when to stop trying, but be respectful of their space.