3 techniques for following up with prospects when you have nothing to say

Although I like to talk to my clients so that I get to know them, sometimes following up with a prospect or client is difficult when I feel I have nothing to say to them. I don’t always have a new product or service to promote. I hate saying “I’m just touching base” but I know I need to say something. I have heard some statistics that 50% of sales people will only make one attempt to follow up on a meeting or presentation. Amazing that you would make the time to present and then not follow up. Especially with lengthy sales cycles.

Over the years, though I have learned that the trick to building a health client-vendor relationship is to provide value at every interaction. That means rethinking your callback strategy. Below are a few tips to use when following up with prospects when you don’t have anything new to say:

1) Write a thank you note. Yes. By hand.

I know it sounds a little old fashioned, but your grandmother knew why. It is because you are returning a favor. And one act of kindness deserves another. The favor was their time. And you want to have more of it. A handwritten thank you note shows that you took the time as well. Following the initial appointment with a potential customer, a thank-you note should be sent out immediately, regardless if a sale was completed or not. I knew emails are easier, but not nearly as personal. If possible, write a handwritten note, personalized for each person you met. Always include a business card, even if one was left at the meeting.

2) I was just thinking about our discussion and wanted to share X

What’s X? Clients want to work with someone who is regularly thinking about how they can improve their bottom line. Become the person who cares about their business. Hopefully during the discovery phase of your relationship you have asked what are their pain points. The follow up call might address how you could address it. You might say: ”John, I was thinking about the challenges you have with your competition these days and how I could help you address them (ie reduce costs, speed up productivity, etc) and thought you might be interested in what we did for ABC company when they were dealing with the same challenge. Do you have a few minutes for a quick conversation?”

3) Educate to help ease the decision

Educated customers feel better about the decisions they make. But have you given them a reason to change? There are a number of tools you can use. ROI Calculators, side by side comparisons, white papers, articles, and web casts are all possible tools in your toolbox. Your marketing department is a great resource for this type of educational material. If you don’t have a marketing department, create your own.

When following up, send an email that adds value. Something like “John, I understand the difficulties in changing from your current platform, but I wanted to send you this XX on YY (relevant topic) to see if it is what you might be looking for. Let’s set up a time to talk through your questions.”

A little tip, add their company or industry in Google Alerts. Then when you get a relevant article or topic, you can just forward it along with a personal note. Another interesting tool is Boomerang, a Gmail plug-in that allows you to schedule an email to be sent later. After you hang up the call, craft an email about following up and schedule it the day you told the prospect you’d call him back.

Wrapping it up

If you do nothing else, show your value. People don’t buy from companies. They buy from people. Show them you care. Even if you think you got the deal and have a PO on the way. Check in without checking in. Treat each new pass as a fresh opportunity to build on your relationship.

Do you agree? How do you nurture your client-vendor relationship?

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