Over the last few years, I've spoken and written in depth about following up with people and why I really do think that it is the most important marketing technique that you can do.
But, I still see business owners struggling with following up with people. Case in point, I was speaking to a contact of mine who was a member of a networking group. He told me that every week he was giving potential leads to follow up with and dutifully sent them all an email. Now, he was wondering why he wasn't getting business...
OK...there are essentially three ways that you can follow up with people - by phone, by email or by face to face appointments. When should you use which method?
Following up by phone
You should use phone to follow up with people when there has been some form of personal contact. This includes when you've met someone at a networking event and they've suggested that you meet for a further conversation; when you've sent them a proposal or a quote for some work; when someone has recommended someone to you. You're not going to get the results you want if you follow up by email in these circumstances.
Following up by email
I always see email as a back-up for personal conversations, not as a substitute. So you should use email to follow up with people when you've phoned someone, but can't get in contact with them; when you've briefly met someone at a networking event and want to arrange a more detailed conversation with them or when you're following up with a bulk of people for instance to send them a newsletter.
Following up by face to face
I've left face to face follow up until last because obviously, it's the most time consuming of the three. Yet, it still has a place when we need to follow up with people. I would follow up by face to face if it was a big proposal and I wanted to have the chance to discuss the quote with someone on a personal basis. I would also follow up face to face if I done some work for that person and was looking to get further business from them.
While the most important thing is definitely for you to follow up with people - if you don't, how else can you expect to get business? It's also important for you to choose the most appropriate method to follow up too. So, in the example I gave above, my contact should have definitely followed up by phone rather than by email.
Email is too easy to ignore when the contact doesn't know you and as it had been referred by someone else as a personal contact, it would have been more appropriate to follow up by phone and then back this up by email if you couldn't reach the person you were hoping to speak to.
Generally, small business owners tend to overlook phone and face to face as a follow up method mainly because there is more chance of rejection and you have to bite the bullet to pick up that phone or arrange that meeting.
But like most things, the more often you do it, the easier it becomes. I try to follow up with 2 people a day by phone if possible and because I practice this on a regular basis, it doesn't feel as bad as it once did.
So, if you want to get business in through the door quickly, pick up that phone and follow up!