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Last updated: 27 Sep, 2014  

Customer.9.Thmb.jpg How to follow up with prospects

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Bikky Khosla | 29 Apr, 2014
Every small business pays great attention to reaching out to new customers, wherever possible, offline or online, at an event or on a social network platform. They place great importance on networking and building connections. They are quick at sending product information whenever a potential prospect requests for it. Everything is right till this point, but when it comes to follow-up, they usually fall behind. After the initial contact, most small businesses prefer to sit back and wait for a reply, which most of the time never comes.

I had an informal discussion on this issue with some small business owners recently. Most of them don't stress on follow-up because they don't want to appear pushy. This is true -- following up with prospects too frequently can easily drive them away. Too many calls, too many emails can do more harm than good. But how many of small businesses ever come close to crossing this line? Most of the time, it is total lack of follow-up efforts for which prospective clients are lost, and not because of excess of it. A balance can easily be maintained just by following a standard follow-up process.

While following with prospects, the focus should be always on building relationships. You should be responsive but not forceful and no matter whatever the medium you use -- telephone, email, social media platform -- try to add value to the process by adding some supportive information, useful links, birthday cards, anniversary cards, notes of appreciation, etc. Share ideas, ask questions and try to understand their needs. Don't call every time just to sell -- it leaves a very bad impression in the minds of the prospects. Don't repeat the same message again and again -- it will not be respected and heard.

There is another common misconception among small business owners that prospective customers will contact them if they're interested -- no need to follow up with them. But in reality, things may not be so straightforward after all. Many a time, a prospective customer may have questions in his mind that he is not asking, he may not understand how your product applies to his requirements, he might be thinking of buying the product not right now but after two months. It is during the follow-up process you get the opportunity to clear such confusion and let the prospect know how important it is for you to meet his needs.

Some small entrepreneurs view that they are aware of the importance of follow-up, but find it challenging to make it happen, due to their busy schedules. Amid so many things, it is sometimes difficult to remember even the names of the prospects. My suggestion is that you should make a list of the important prospects, categorize them into hot, warm and cool prospects, decide a follow-up plan accordingly and record this in tradeindia.com's Compliance Management System and create alerts. Systematizing the process will make it easier to accomplish the follow-up targets.

I invite your feedback. If you have some follow-up tips, please share with us.
 
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More practical tips
Prof T.Srinivas | Wed May 21 10:35:33 2014
This we experienced in our business


Very important thoughts
Anand Dhongade 9881120320 | Wed May 7 08:56:31 2014
This thoughts gives good inspiration in business


thanks for this lecture
Jose Suarez | Wed May 7 03:29:54 2014
Thanks for posting these issues, they are very good. and have relevant information.


follow up
Avi Kantor | Fri May 2 05:55:47 2014
I agree with you 100% actualy i'm looking for an easy software to be applied on outlook to follow up at least on unanswered mails


Followup tips
srinivas KOTA | Thu May 1 13:52:22 2014
I would suggest an standard email seeking customer response even if it is negative, along with reasons thereto; This will enable impressing the client to take out some time to ponder on why he/she wants to accept or reject a service provider/ seller who is interested and respects feedback.


Its Really Nice way
Vipul Solanki | Thu May 1 05:57:15 2014
Dear sir You have identify many things and thanks for posting this issues


How to follow up with prospects
Rekha Mathur | Thu May 1 01:53:09 2014
Provides really relevant information and guidance


Follow up tips
RJ | Wed Apr 30 13:42:51 2014
Although I agree with most of the points you have highlighted in the article and having worked for a small business for number of years, I must add that for most part sales people feel that since the prospective customer contacted them its not their job to follow up.There is no sense of urgency. Part of the blame also goes to the management. Every lead or inquiry I received in my sales career, I looked upon it as a future business prospect.I made personal visit to the prospect immediately after setting up an appointment to go over the inquiry and set up a follow up date.This happened in 2-3 days after the receipt of the inquiry and it is still fresh in the mind of the customer. It also gave me an opportunity to take a look at any other activities going on at the prospects place and what other products I can sell to this customer and if he is buying anything from our competition. Every sales inquiry is an Opportunity to grow your business and should not be wasted.


Great piece of write-up
Darshan, Kampun Polymers | Wed Apr 30 01:29:00 2014
You have really identified the reasons and solutions for smaller units. Thanks a lot.


Follow up or not to Follow up, that is the question
Luis from PANAMA | Tue Apr 29 21:52:22 2014
I like very much your approach on this matter. I am a sales manager with 5 sales persons under my supervision and this is a day to day problem. I systemize my quote data base with some controls, but I am never happy and want more from it. I would like very much to translate this text to share it with my staff. You should link this script to Linkedin. Best Regards,


 
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