For Independent Professionals, marketing often converges into one crucial action step: The Follow-Up Call.
You can follow up at any stage of the marketing process:
If you meet someone through networking and they show some interest, you can give them a call to explore that interest.
If you forward some information to a prospect, such as an article or a link to a web page, you can follow up to get their reaction and then discuss their need for your service.
Or if a prospect has attended a presentation or teleclass, you can follow up to see if they’re interested in taking the next step.
OK, we all understand this… but if this is so simple (and it really is) then why is the average Independent Professional so awful at actually doing it? Admit it, you’ve let a lot of business slip through the cracks because you haven’t made that follow-up call.
I call that crack the “Grand Canyon” because it feels like a mile wide and a mile deep!
Today, I’m going to give you some badly needed perspective on making those calls.
Seven Pointers for Crossing the Grand Canyon
1. If you don’t call, it won’t happen. Period. The chance of them calling you back from any of the scenarios above is minuscule. If they call, great, that means they are very qualified. But if you don’t follow-up, the chances are high that you will never turn them into a client. Never, ever.
2. Remember, the purpose of a follow-up call is not to sell them your services, but to continue a conversation or to set up an appointment. Take it one step at a time. You’re playing Marketing Ball, remember? You’re moving towards second base where they are willing to explore working with you. Take it easy.
3. If you make a follow-up call, bad things won’t happen. They won’t send a hit man to take you out. They won’t even hang up on you or say bad things or yell at you. Won’t happen. Relax. About the worst thing that can happen is they won’t be interested right now. You can survive that.
4. If they don’t return your call, it doesn’t mean they are not interested. It just means you are not a priority right now. Or they are out of town or their cat just died. You are not at the top of their list and, like you do when someone leaves a message, you think to yourself, “Gee, I can’t get back to them today; I guess they’ll call back if they’re serious.” Be serious and call back.
5. You can leave messages, but never leave the ball in their court. Don’t expect them to call you back. Instead, let them know you’ll be calling again later in the day or tomorrow. This way you can call several times, because you’re not expecting them to return your call. Ever. It’s not their job. It’s your job.
6. When you finally reach them, be prepared. You always need to start from square one and use the language of marketing (problem followed by solution): “When we talked you said you weren’t happy with ABC and wanted more of XYZ. I just wanted to learn more about your situation. Is this a good time to talk?” It just might be.
7. You know a follow-up call is going well if your prospect is doing most of the talking (about their problems and desired outcomes). You are in trouble if you’re getting too deeply into the features and benefits of your service. Don’t go there now. See if there’s a need and an interest and then ASK for and GET an appointment.
That’s all you need to know to get started. Any prospects needing follow-up calls? There’s the phone!
The More Clients Bottom Line: If you realize that you need to cross the Grand Canyon to turn prospects into clients, and you just accept that as a reality, you’ll find a way to make it happen.
Robert Middleton of Action Plan Marketing has been helping Independent Professionals attract more clients since 1984. Robert is the author of the online bestsellers, the InfoGuru Marketing Manual and the WebSite ToolKit. Robert’s site is a great resource for any self-employed professional. Get Robert’s free report, “The 5 Key Strategies to Attracting More High-End Clients.”