You need a plan to follow up with prospects–here is mine

If you want to win work, you need to be proactive about keeping tabs on your leads. Sure, the prospect has a problem and you can likely solve it, but so can others.

Sometimes things come up for your prospect, say a death in the family. When life happens the project may take a back seat. By the time your prospect gets back to it you may no longer be top of mind so you’re going to lose out on the work.

Just like I have a client vetting process, I have a follow-up process to make sure I keep tabs on leads.

Following Up with Prospects

Great prospect follow-up starts with a schedule. When your prospect says they need to check with Bob in accounting, you tell them you’ll follow up on Monday to see how that conversation went. Then…you follow up on Monday. The email doesn’t have to be huge. Something short like this is perfect:

Hey Jane, hope the weekend was great.
I wanted to follow up and see how the conversation with Bob went. Are there any further roadblocks to moving the project forward?
Have a great day.

Say you don’t hear back, what then? I follow up with prospects every Tuesday and Thursday until they say outright no or until they haven’t responded for a long time. Even then I send one last email that quite often gets a response. I call it the ‘closing the account’ email and here it is:

Hey Jane, hope the day is going well.
I haven’t heard from you in the last few emails. I’m closing my accounts now and it seems like you’re no longer interested in working together.
I’ll close this account so I don’t keep filling your inbox.
Have a great day.

So many times that email yields a response from cold prospects. Stuff just came up and they haven’t been getting to their email like they had hoped. They’re still interested in work and they want to start moving forward.

Never just stop emailing a prospect without sending an email to tell them you’re closing their account.

That’s my routine for prospects that I think are a great fit, but what about clients you’ve already done work for and you’d love to work for again?

Long-Term Follow-up with Awesome Clients

One of the best ways to follow up and keep on the radar of previous clients is to take it offline. In a recent call I did with client she mentioned a few times how the hand-written cards I sent were great. They made her feel like I cared for her and her project.

I usually send those at the beginning and end of every project, and for really awesome clients they get one or two other cards throughout the year to keep top of mind.

In addition to some hand-written cards, I make sure I touch base with my awesome clients at least once a quarter via email. I’m not asking for more work, I’m asking how life and business is going. I’m working to stay top of mind so that when they have work that might fit me, they get back in touch with me instead of talking to someone else that they talked to more recently.

My tool of choice to remind me is Contactually, but there are plenty of other tools you can use.

It really doesn’t matter what your plan is to follow up with leads, just have a plan and faithfully execute on it. Don’t let prospects drop off the radar just because you’re not following up. Stay top of mind with them, and you’re going to start getting more leads.

This was based off my upcoming book Finding and Marketing to Your Niche. Get on the email list to hear about it first.

photo credit: bobsfever cc