Bikky Khosla | 24 Jul, 2012
As a small business, you are always eager to get new customers. You spend a lot of time in generating leads, and whenever a potential prospect requests information, you send it promptly. But then you sit back. You do nothing but simply wait for a reply. If things go right and eventually there is an actual purchase, you accept the sale enthusiastically, but sit back again. You do nothing but simply make hurry to move onto the next customer.
Sorry for the generalization, but it's what we often see in many small enterprises. They don't bother much about following up their prospective and existing customers.
There is a common misconception among many small entrepreneurs that people will contact them if they're interested, and they will either immediately make a desired purchase or give it the go-by. But in reality, things may not be so straightforward after all. What if the prospect gets busy after making the initial query? He might not need your product right now; he might need more time to make the decision; he might have just forgotten. In such instances, you are certainly going to miss some good business unless you follow up.
Similarly, it is equally important to follow up your existing customers. In the world of business, it is never a good idea to be over-occupied with the thought of moving onto the next customer while overlooking the existing customers. Customer retention is the most important thing you can do. It helps not only cut costs and increase profits but also correct still-undetected shortfalls (about which someone has yet to complain), build customer loyalty, and protect existing customers from being taken away by your competitors.
I know these suggestions are nothing new, but my point is that SMEs need to lay more stress on follow-up, and they have to do it right. For this, I think every small firm should create a follow-up program that clearly defines how frequently to follow up, which mediums to use, what should be the content of follow-up conversations, how to keep track of all these activities, and every small thing that we often miss in the hurry of moving onto the next client. I think doing a bit of online search will certainly help here.
For any business, earning new clients is important, but at the same time it is equally important to follow up with prospective and existing customers. When a new client expresses interest in your business, he may not be quite ready to sign a deal now . . . . Your existing customers may have too busy lives not to forget about you. In both these cases, regular follow-up is a must. As a small business, you should never forget about this.