The Lost Art of the Follow-Up


In my experience at Sharn Enterprises, Inc., I have encountered different situations that deal with client building, customer relationships, and overall account management.  The most important I have come to realize is the art of the follow-up.

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What sparked my in-depth thought about the follow-up was an email I received from a potential customer.  It read,

“I will stay in touch.  I am sure we can do some things together and I appreciate your efforts and follow-up.  It’s a refreshing change!!”

This note not only made my day, but also got my wheels turning.   If I can provide a “refreshing change” for a customer who is not used to follow-ups and attempts to make an effort, then Sharn Enterprises gains an opportunity to earn new business. Thus, when you’re not reaching out to a potential or even a current client, you may miss a potential opportunity and that client may take their business elsewhere.  GoTo Market Strategies (2014) supports this and states, “only 50% of marketing leads have received a follow-up from sales or channel partners, making it the top reason a product wasn’t purchased.”

The definition of a follow-up is when you check-in with a customer or client to give them a heads up, update, or even a general hello.  The follow-up can also take on different hats, including being a marketing boost.  For example, a once booming client may have lost touch with your organization for no specific reason, just plain evolution.  Reaching out could remind a client of your services and help them realize you are just the right person to help with an upcoming project.

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You see, the follow-up is sometimes unexpected, unwarranted, and ignored.  In other instances, the follow-up is welcomed, unexpected (in a good way), and appreciated.  And the latter version is where your company (and Sharn Enterprises, Inc.) maximizes its results.

As a marketing and sales professional, I want to be known as the person that makes the extra effort.  I want to my client to know that I care and I am willing to go the extra mile.  I do not want to be apart of the other 50% and lose potential business.

As I get off my soapbox, here are some ways that you and your sales team can increase productivity by going back to the basics, by bringing back the lost art of the follow-up:

1. Send an email– Do not just cut and paste.  Write a thoughtful note that doesn’t seem like Siri was the author.

2. Write a letter– Once again, no copying and pasting.  Key word here is “write.”  A hand-written note shows consideration and time was taken in order to really delve deep into thought.  A letter is personal, warm, and is an extremely thoughtful follow-up approach.

3. Pick up the phone- If emailing or writing a note seems too trivial for your specific customer, give them a ring.  A phone call allows for the inflection of your voice to be expressed.  If you’re excited about an upcoming project you are working on for that client, it will be heard in your voice.  Most importantly, be yourself.

4. Send follow-up information right after a meeting– During your meeting, write down notes for yourself.  For example, when I meet with a new client, I write down notes as well as detailed data so I am able to mock-up a custom display idea right after the meeting.  You are human; you can’t remember every detail, so writing notes down can help recall all key points discussed.

5. Keep an eye out for the small things– During your initial meeting, keep an eye out for body language, words, or expressions that piqued your customer’s interest and got them excited to work with you.  Refer back to these in your follow-up approach.

6. Agree– If you agree with a point made by your customer, let them know!  This builds trust and lets the client know you are listening and on the same page.

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At Sharn Enterprises, Inc. we have seen the follow-up truly work.  Like my dad always says,

“If you try and don’t succeed, it’s better than not trying at all.”

For more information on Sharn Enterprises, Inc.’s custom POP displays and store fixtures, please visit http://www.sharndisplays.com or call 815-464-9715.

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