by David Frey
A study done by the Association of Sales Executives revealed that 81% of all sales happens on or after the fifth contact. If you're a small business owner and you're only doing one or two follow-ups imagine all the business you're losing.
Not following up with your prospects and customers is the same as filling up your bathtub without first putting the stopper in the drain!
But don't be disheartened if you're among the 90% of business owners I talk to that don't do any follow up. The good news is you have ample room for profitable improvement. Consistent follow-up creates a predictable and profitable stream of prospects and customers that buy.
Small businesses that capture leads and follow-up with them enjoy higher conversion rates and a higher percentage of referrals than those that don't.
After asking many small business owners the reason they don't follow up I often hear responses such as, "I don't have the sales staff to chase down all our leads", or "We're usually too busy to do a lot of follow up."
These responses automatically set off red flags that tell me that they lack a systematic process for following up. The problem is not that they don't have the capacity to follow up with prospects, it's that they don't have the systems in place to do it.
What Does a Good Follow Up System Look Like?
A good follow up marketing system should have three attributes.
It should be systematic, meaning that the follow up process is done the same way every time.
It should generate consistent, predictable results.
It should require minimal physical interaction to make it run, meaning it should be able to run on autopilot.
Sounds like a dream come true for most small business owners doesn't it? Not only can it be done, it's being done every day. The secret to "follow-up marketing" is to make it automatic so that you don't have to lift a finger but the job still gets done.
With today's technology it's simpler than ever. Automating your follow-up processes gives you more time to work "on" your business rather than "in" your business.
Three Types of Follow Ups
There are three types of people you should be following up with, suspects (people in your target marketplace), prospects (people who have responded to your marketing but have not purchased, and customers (people who have purchased something from you.) Each follow up message and offer will be different for each type of person.
With suspects, you'll want to entice them to call you or visit your store / office. With prospects, you need to persuade them to make their first purchase. And with customers, you want to convince them to come back and do more business with you and give your referrals.
Obviously the hardest type of person to follow up with is a suspect because they haven't shown any interest yet in a pool or hot tub and you usually don't have their contact information.
But that's not true with prospects and customers. You not only know who they are, but you should already have their contact information. And if you follow up with your customers with consistency you'll find that they will help you turn your suspects into prospects and prospects into customers for you through referrals.
Your Follow Up Marketing Tools
Your principal follow up marketing tools are the telephone, direct mail, and email. Many pool and hot tub business owners make the mistake of jumping right on the telephone to follow up; however, most prospects don't want a pushy sales message right away and most prospects have been trained to consider anyone who calls up to be a pushy salesperson.
Instead, you should try to develop a relationship of trust with your prospect by quickly sending informational items such as special reports, audio CDs, or videos before you make a phone call.
Remember to always include a "next-step-offer" to accompany your educational materials. If the next step is to visit the store, then entice them with an appropriate offer or if the next step is to call you, entice your prospect to call you immediately.
People move through the buying process in baby steps, especially when considering buying high-ticket items such as hot tubs or pools. Your offer should always help them take the next step.
(rest of the article at: http://www.marketingbestpractices.com/members/473.cfm
*Don't forget David's excellent TELESUMMIT series. You can get all the information, transcripts and recordings for:
Lead Generation Masters
How to Find Hire and Manage High Performing Employees