Somebody reaches out regarding your services or products. You send over pricing, details, and other answers to questions. And then you wait to hear from the prospect. Either she responds or doesn’t—but you leave it at that.
If that sounds like you, my guess is that you’re leaving money on the table. And maybe even a lot of money.
So, what else should you be doing? Following up.
Following up is important because you’re able to learn more about your customers, it encourages people to make a decision, and allows you to make informed adjustments to your business whether it’s changing up your prices or the way you present your services.
Some people believe that following-up sounds desperate. Maybe you’re a high-end or luxury service provider and you think it would be off-brand to ask people where they stand. But following up doesn’t have to sound desperate. Really, it’s just way to continue moving someone from stranger to fan to customer.
Think about how busy your life is. Those people who just inquired about your services? Yeah, they’re busy, too. There’s a good chance they have other things to think about than you, they might have reached out to others who offer similar services or products, and–regardless–they probably have some more questions.
By following-up, you’re showing that you understand all those things.
You Learn More When You Follow-Up
Whether or not someone buys from you, there’s an opportunity to learn a whole heck of a lot about your prospects. But it requires that you’re intentional about the questions you ask.
We created a spreadsheet for our wedding photography business so we could track our inquiries and identify any trends. (You can get access to our inquiry tracking sheet at the end of the post!).
When someone inquires, we record their information and the date they inquired in this spreadsheet. About a week later, we send a follow-up email asking if the prospect has any questions and if there’s a good time to meet in the near future.
This almost always prompts a response, and it’s almost always informative. Responses range from “you’re out of our budget” to “we decided to go with another photographer” to “sorry, we’ve just been so busy” etc.
But each response provides insight into how potential customers think. After a while you might notice that almost everyone asks the same question. Is there a way you can preemptively answer that question in your initial response?
Following-up Encourages People to Make a Decision
The buying process, especially for more expensive stuff, often involves a series of micro-commitments or “small-yeses” before one is ready to make the big purchase. This might include liking your work and then answering yes in response to your call-to-action to fill out the contact form. Then after receiving some information from you, they might say yes to a meeting. Each “yes” results in a slightly bigger commitment than the one prior, and is another step in building trust.
Following-up is an opportunity to move people towards the bigger decision. In our follow-up, we ask the inquirer if she has any more questions and if she wants to jump on a quick call. We’ve never received an email back from someone saying, “I don’t know.” And while we occasionally don’t receive a reply, we usually do.
Make More Informed Adjustments to Your Business
How many times have you entered a slow season and have had a panic attack because you’re not quite sure why things are slowing down? Following up and recording notes about each lead gives you insight into your business.
While it takes some time to collect enough data to see patterns, it’s invaluable when you do. Maybe you notice that things tend to slow down each year in May, but pick-up again by July. Now you know there’s no reason to worry, but you can be proactive in planning for June.
Or perhaps people are continually replying and mentioning that you’re out of their budget. You can either lower your prices, figure out how to reach a higher-end client, or better educate current prospects on why you’re worth the investment.
You can improve your client experience by paying attention to the questions people are asking you because those questions are often the obstacles in booking you. 7 of the last 10 people asked the same question? You’ll probably want to start incorporating the answer in your initial response to the prospect or in your marketing materials.
Tips for an Effective Follow-Up
A good follow-up is about asking the right questions and then listening well to the responses. If you’re not asking a question in your follow-up, you’re probably not making the most of the opportunity.
Be sure the question you ask requires an answer, but also nurtures the prospect. I probably wouldn’t follow-up with a question like, “Have you made a decision yet?” Rather, I’d say something like, “Do you have any questions about the galleries or collections we sent over?”
A good follow-up is also timely. The timeframe will depend on what you’re offering. It’s generally easier to make decisions about lower-priced items, so you might want to follow-up within a day or two. Higher priced items require more deliberation (and probably input from a significant other), so you might have more time to follow-up.
And always reply–even if the answer is “no.” It might be as simple as saying something like, “I understand. Thanks for your consideration!” You might even suggest a few alternatives that are in their budget or a better fit. That kind of stuff can go a long way, and might result in a sale down the road.
Whatever you do, don’t skip the follow-up! It can be a powerful way to gain insight into your customer and your business, especially when you’re just getting started.
Interested in seeing how we track our inquiries? Get access here: