Following up with potential clients

Following up with potential clients

What can you do when you reach out to a potential client to offer your product or service and you hear nothing? So many solo entrepreneurs never follow up and when you do not follow up, you’re just leaving money on the table. In this blog, I am going to help you get comfortable with the idea of following up and share some essential tips on how you can do it in a way that isn’t pushy or slimy.

This blog article is a summary of the related podcast episode.

Click here to listen to the tips mentioned in this article.

We have all been there. You reach out to a potential client, offering them a product or service and then when you do not hear anything immediately, you don’t reach out again because you don’t want to bother them. Or maybe you try one more time but when you do not get an answer, you drop it. I know that this is tough and it is still something that I have to work on but following up is an essential part of the sales process. You are missing out on potential revenue when you don’t follow up. These statistics show just how important it is.

According to IRC Sales Solutions, a sales consulting firm, 2% of sales are made at the first contact, 3% are made at the second contact, 5% were made at the third contact and 10% were made at the fourth contact. But this is the big one – 80% of sales were made at the 12th contact! This is how much money you are missing out on when you don’t follow up! And also this statistic shows you that people do take action when you follow up.

You can learn more about these statistics here:

Sales follow-up statistics and process – the power of follow-ups

Why are you not following up?

Now that we know that customers do take action when you follow up, we need to look at what is holding you back from doing it! There are three big myths and self-limiting beliefs that you need to address before you can be comfortable following up.

‘They’re just not interested’

One of the big reasons might be that you are afraid to bother people because you think that if you’ve made the offer and they haven’t responded that they are not interested. All the statistics that I just listed show that it is not true that when people don’t answer your message that they are not interested. This is the first belief you need to get rid of so you can start feeling comfortable about following up. You need to tell yourself that it is not true that when people don’t respond to you, they are not interested. This is a huge myth that you need to debunk so you can have the courage and the right mindset to follow up effectively.

Following up is pushy’

The second belief that I know holds a lot of entrepreneurs back is that following up is being pushy. I know a lot of my clients struggle with this fear of being pushy or slimy when they follow up. To challenge this belief, you need to understand that when you follow up with a client you are actually providing a service. How many times I have missed replying to an email because I was busy. I’m human so it happens! A lot of other people do this too because they are either too busy or they forget or they don’t feel that they have the right information to make an educated decision. This is where your follow up helps your customers make their decision. It is not about pushing them to decide, it is about helping them make the choice that is right for them.

‘I am scared of being rejected’

The third limiting belief that you need to address is fear of rejection. This is a totally normal and human reaction to putting yourself out there, but it is also a huge self-limiting belief that will stop you from growing a successful portable business. To help you address this, I want to share a story from my past. 

When I was in my early 20s, one of the first jobs I had was selling encyclopedias door to door. I did this for two years and it was the best school of my life in terms of personal and professional development.  I met some amazing people who have marked my life forever, but I also learned a lot about myself and my true potential. One of the things that I learned the most about was the fear of rejection. First of all, I realized that selling is first of all about listening. It is not about talking and selling, it’s about listening so that you know exactly what your client needs and whether they will feel comfortable saying yes to an offer. Secondly, I learned that selling is all about numbers. What I mean is that I knew I needed three sales a day to be able to reach my revenue goals but in order to make those three sales, I needed to knock on 90 doors. From those 90 doors, I needed 20-30 sit-downs with people who opened their doors. So, I needed to knock on double the number of doors so that I can have at least one door that opens – of those 30 who opened their door, only 3 would say ‘yes’ and buy from me. This represents a 10% conversion rate. When I started, I was only achieving a 3% conversion rate but then I worked out how many doors I needed to knock on! When you understand the number you need to reach out to and the more you reach out, the more chances you have to convert leads to sales. 

This is when you can start embracing rejection. The faster a client rejects you, the faster you can move on. Rejection is just another part of selling. 

Without rejections, you do not have sales. It is pure maths and it’s not personal – there is no emotional aspect to it. The only emotional aspect you need to consider is making sure that you have empathy for your clients, really care for them and to want to support them in making the right decision for them. Trust me, when you make this big mindset shift, it will really help change things. Your clients can tell when you are coming from a place of fear or doubt and insecurity.  And you might come across as pushy because you are doing something that you do not want to do. When you come back to your client with caring, positive energy and a commitment to help them make the right decision for them, then you are there to help, not to push. So just remember, rejection has nothing to do with you. When people say ‘no’, it is because it is not the right time for them or they didn’t have the right information to make the decision. So, let’s start embracing rejection and shifting it to a place of opportunities, not fear!

You can learn more about my experiences in door-to-door sales in this podcast:

What door-to-door sales taught me about entrepreneurship

One practical thing that I suggest you do help make this shift is to sit down and look at your numbers, look at how many people you need to reach out to for you to be able to convert people into customers and reach your sales goals. To help you with this, I have a great resource that will give you the formula to measure how many people you need to reach out to – in marketing terms, we call them leads. You can find this formula and lots of other great resources for converting leads to customers in my free 3C™ System workbook.

Download the 3C™ System workbook

When you are working on your numbers, bear in mind that a good conversion rate for an online business is 10% but I recommend that you start a lower target so you don’t feel overwhelmed and pressurized to reach this number. Like everything else, you need to practice following up and converting before you become good at it. Start with around 2-3% and keep increasing as you learn.

But if you want to start increasing the percentage of leads you convert into sales, you have to address these three big limiting beliefs. You can only start to follow up successfully once you have worked on your mindset!

How to follow up

The statistics that I cited earlier showed that 80% of the sales happened after the fifth follow up but you might feel that five times is a little too pushy so I’m going to give you practical tips to follow up three times after you have made your first offer, particularly when you have had no response to that first approach.  This is when many of my clients find it the hardest to follow up.

  1. Forward your original email offer again

This is very simple. Just forward your original email with your offer. You can say something like:

‘Hi, I’m just checking to make sure you got this email from me on (date). I would love to hear if you are interested or have any questions.’

This is literally the first thing you want to do as follow up. If this person responds, then follow up with a conversation so that you can help them gain the knowledge and information that they need to make their decision.

  1. Reach out through another channel

If you still don’t get a response from email, then you still want to reach out to them but you need to try another channel. It is possible that your emails are going to their spam/junk folder or they just forgot to answer. Sometimes it is as simple as that and it really does happen. Sometimes people are more responsive on other channels so try something else like LinkedIn or Facebook or you can even text or call them by phone. Let’s say that you’re going to send them a LinkedIn message, you could say something like this:

‘Hi, I just wanted to make sure that my emails are not in your spam folder. I sent you a description of XYZ program. Please let me know if you received it. I am happy to answer any questions you might have.’

All you are really asking is whether or not they have received your information. Depending on their answer then you can continue the conversation.

  1. Closing the conversation

If you have reached out using another channel like LinkedIn and they still are not answering you, it is time to close the conversation. You want to do this proactively by sending one last email. The purpose of this is to let them know that it is now up to them to reach out to you. Here is an example for you. Let’s say that you are a tutor that helps children with their reading disabilities and you’ve been in touch with a parent to help their children with your tutoring services. Here’s what you might say:

‘I have not heard back from you following our conversation about the TaylorMade tutoring program that I offered to support your children with their reading challenges. I know you are probably very busy but I hope you are doing OK. I just wanted to let you know that I’m leaving it to get back to me when you are ready.’

An email like this needs to be supportive and caring – this is not about making them feel bad for not getting back to you. It is just showing that you understand that they have not had time or might have forgotten. You also want to summarize your original offer to remind them and the more specific you are in solving their problem, the better. You also want to remind them of the problem and how you can solve it so that they might think again and get in touch with you.

When the answer is ‘no’

Typically when this happens, we say thank you and goodbye. But when you do this, you are missing a big opportunity to learn and that’s still leaving money on the table! Here are the steps you can take to learn and to build this relationship for the long term.

  1. Understand why they said no

First of all, you need to understand why they said no and you want to continue to nurture the relationship. You want to acknowledge their response and accept the rejection and let them know that you are reachable if they change their mind or have a question. And then you want to ask a question that will help you understand why they said no. Here is an example of how to do this:

‘Thank you for your response. I totally respect your decision and please know that you can reach out to me at any time if you change your mind or have other questions I can assist you with. I’m looking forward to staying in touch. In the meantime, I would love to ask for your feedback on my offer. What was missing for you to feel comfortable to say yes? Your feedback would be so valuable.’

If you are thinking all the time about your relationships with your potential customers, it will be natural for you to respond in this way. You aren’t trying to sell, you are asking them for their feedback. This feedback is going to key to you becoming a better salesperson and increasing your conversion rate. Also, the more you learn about the reasons people say no to your offer, the better you will become at anticipating the potential objections to your offer before your leads even say yes or no. Knowing these potential objections will help you adapt the way you present your offer so that your potential customers are more comfortable saying yes. As well as this, the person who says no today might need you again someday or they might be a great source for referrals or introductions to your ideal clients. So, if you have made an effort to build a relationship with them, then continue that relationship because you care, not because of potential sales. If you have built a genuine relationship with your potential customers, it should be natural for you to keep in touch. Some of the things that you can do to help support this relationship are to offer a freebie or if that isn’t valuable to this customer, perhaps a coupon, taster or a referral to someone who might have a solution that they can say yes to.

  1. Reach out regularly: 

This is as simple as just checking in to see how someone is doing. It can also be sending birthday or holiday greetings e.g. Happy New Year. These are great occasions to follow up and stay in touch with people. You can also send cards by snail mail – this can be a really meaningful way to stay connected. You can also use your content to stay in touch. Even after they say no, you can reach out and offer them a free resource. You might say something like this:

‘Hey, I have this free resource for you that could still help you. And if you sign up for my newsletter every week, I’ll give you a couple of tips to help you out with that. It may help you to sign up so that I can continue to support you and we can stay in touch whenever you want.’

When you design your content, don’t just think about people who might say yes, also think about those who have already said no. Think about what they need to know or feel so that they can at some point be ready to work with you or buy from you?

  1. Don’t hesitate to ask for referrals: 

If you have built a good relationship with someone who has said no, you can easily ask them for referrals and introductions. Here is what you could say:

‘Hey, by any chance, I am looking for people who like you have this problem that I have the solution to. Do you know anyone who you would be able to recommend?’

I often ask people for a number so you can ask for a specific number of referrals. And actually, doing this can sometimes help them make a decision about working with you too.

I have shared a lot of different tips with you about following up but here is my last one and it’s a big one. We are all human – I know that I have forgotten to make calls or get back to people. We can all get overwhelmed and stressed and just forget to follow up with people. 

This is why you need a system in place to track your leads so that you can actually track your conversion rate and hopefully increase it! There are lots of online tools out there to help with this, but I recommend Hubspot

It has a free option but if you want more support and some additional tools, then there are fees but the free version is great to get started. For example, you can use Hubspot at the end of each conversation to keep notes on your discussion, or you can take notes while you’re on the call and set an email reminder to follow up with that potential client. So if you do that systematically as part of your daily work, you will not forget to follow up! Regardless of how you choose to do it and what tool you use, you need a good customer relationship management (CRM) system and tool. This includes making it part of your routine so I suggest blocking out 30-60 minutes every week to follow up with people – this will take you such a long way and also help you overcome your fear of following up.

Above all don’t forget that the right mindset is key to following up effectively! If you would like more tips and exercises to work on your conversion, then don’t forget to download my free 3C™ System workbook now.

I hope this blog has helped you see following up differently and enabled you to turn your fears into something very natural for you to do to grow your business.