This article, Your Prospects Are Ridiculously Busy-Why You Shouldn’t Fear Follow-up, is part of our Destination RSW Summer Blog Series, designed to help you navigate the hazards encountered on the road to new business.
We’ll have new challenges featured throughout the summer, so be sure to check back in each week for a look at the latest content!
This post is from one of our New Business Directors, Kerry Moss.
It’s a common challenge for anyone pursuing new business: You had a great first meeting with a prospect, but the next steps are unclear. How often should you follow up?
The answer is more than you think.
Too often, we fear that our follow-up outreach will be perceived as too aggressive or as pestering the prospect.
In reality, thoughtful persistent follow-up is often necessary to secure a second meeting, and your prospect will appreciate your diligence.
The numbers don’t lie.
80% of all sales involve at least 5 follow-ups after the first meeting, according to a study by Brevet.
Yet 44% of sales professionals give up after just one attempt.
The people you wish to do business with are often very busy.
Don’t assume they are merely ignoring your outreach.
Lack of response doesn’t mean they have lost interest.
It all boils down to timing.
In order to effectively nurture a prospect, it is incumbent on you to stay top-of-mind and demonstrate value.
Successful business development professionals follow up with prospects early and often after a productive first meeting.
In most cases, the prospect will tell you if they have decided that you are not a good fit, or they’ve decided to go in another direction.
If your follow-up calls and emails are going unanswered, you’re likely still in the running to win some business.
This is the time for you to show the prospect what you can bring to the table.
So how do you demonstrate value?
Your follow-up needs to do more than just asking for another meeting.
Our experience in business development suggests that these three approaches are the best way to secure a second meeting, and to position yourself to win the business:
Remind them why they took the first meeting with you
As mentioned above, the prospects you are pursuing are busy people. If they took even 30 minutes of their time to meet with you, they have a need or they saw some sort of value in talking to you. Your primary goal in that first meeting should be to determine why they decided to take the meeting. Maybe they are struggling to find a partner who understands their business. Perhaps their current agency is underperforming. Or maybe they are interested in implementing a strategy that aligns with your specific strengths. In any case, your follow-up should help to reestablish their original motivation for speaking to you in the first place.
Provide information and/or insights on something discussed in the first meeting
Your introductory meetings should always serve as a way to learn about the prospect and his/her business. After that first meeting, you should have some sense of the prospect’s pain-points and you should have some understanding of their past strategies. As you prepare to follow-up with the prospect, find ways to offer valuable perspective around something you learned in that first meeting. Find a 3rd party news item or blog post relevant to your initial discussion. Show the prospect that you understand what they told you and demonstrate your resourcefulness.
Share your experience solving problems similar to the challenges the prospect is facing
Your follow-up should include examples of work you’ve done for clients in the same (or similar) industry as the prospect. This helps to alleviate any potential concerns the prospect may have about your ability to understand his/her business. When possible, the work examples should demonstrate ways in which you’ve solved the same (or similar) challenges the prospect is facing. Your goal is to establish credibility, provide value, and show the prospect that you are eager to help them achieve his/her goals.
Don’t fear the follow-up.
Remember that your prospects are busy, and you must stay top-of-mind.
Follow-up with your prospects frequently and with intention.
Show them that you listened during the first meeting and demonstrate the ways in which you can provide value.
Remember that a lack of response does not mean they’ve lost interest.
Understand that the period after the first meeting is your opportunity to separate yourself from the competition. If you wish to secure a second meeting, do the work to make it worth the prospect’s time.