Stay in touch and add value

A question to ponder over the summer whilst you’re relaxing on a sun lounger, sipping a refreshing cocktail:

How many people have you met this year that are potential customers or know someone that they could recommend you to?

And the next question is:

How have you kept in contact with them since you first met?

Chances are their business card has joined the hundreds of others in your desk draw or their email has slipped down your ever expanding inbox. You’ve almost forgotten who they are and they’ve completely forgotten who you are. What a waste!

It takes a lot of time, energy and money to build up your database of contacts. And it can take months for someone to really ‘get’ what you do and how it could help them. So the challenge is how to:

  • Follow up

  • Register on their radar

  • Add value at every point of contact

If you do this well, when the time is right it’s you they will remember and turn to.

Here are some ideas for keeping front of mind, nurturing the relationship and guiding potential customers through your prospect pipeline.

I’m sure you can tick some of these off as you are already doing them, but there may be one or two that you can start to put in place so that the second half of 2014 builds better, stronger relationships; generating leads which convert to sales.

1.  Networking revisited

Just turning up at one networking meeting and saying it didn’t work is nonsense. Nine times out of ten business doesn’t happen at the networking meeting. You need to keep returning to the same groups to build the relationships.

2.  Connect on Social Media

It’s so much easier and more cost effective to network in the virtual world. When you’ve met someone at a networking meeting, connect with them on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. Continue the conversation and keep in touch.

3.  Let’s do coffee

As I said, business doesn’t happen at networking meetings, but great strides in the relationship can be made over a coffee. This is truly where the action starts and often a step that is completely ignored. Of course it can be a 1:2:1 meeting at an office too.

4.  Pick up the phone

It amazes me how someone who will chat for hours on the phone with their friends but hates to pick up the phone to someone they’ve recently met. It’s not even a cold call! You’ll be surprised by how many times you get the response ‘I’ve been meaning to call you!’ A follow up phone call is particularly important if you’ve provided a proposal. It’s not at all pushy to make the call. In fact you’re doing them a favour. It’s great to talk! So pick up the phone, dial and smile!

5.  Add them to your email marketing list

For me email marketing is a priority and provides a continuous source of business. If you haven’t asked permission when you exchanged business cards to keep in touch via your newsletter or your monthly top tips, send a ‘nice to meet you email’ and explain that this is how you like to keep in contact, by sharing really helpful information. Let them know that they can decline the offer or unsubscribe at any time. You now have the opportunity to register on their radar on a regular basis. Make sure the content is relevant, interesting and adds value – every time.

6.  Automated follow up emails

Maybe your first encounter has been via your lead magnet. A visitor has come to your website and downloaded your eBook in exchange for their email address. Don’t let this first encounter stop before it’s even started. You can create a series of automated follow up emails. These should relate to and build on the information in your eBook. If they’ve received the download but not yet looked at it (how many times have you done that!) it will give them a little nudge to take a peek. Subsequent emails can expand on the information they clearly wanted. You can ask if they have any questions and request feedback. Every subsequent contact should add value and be really helpful. You don’t want to become annoying.

7. Try before you buy

This is a great way for people to experience what you have to offer and the way you work. If someone has come to your stand at an exhibition perhaps you can offer them a free audit. It’s a gentle way to follow up. It builds understanding and trust. A great experience often leads to a new customer.

I hope there’s something here that has struck a chord with you. Perhaps a process you are going to put in place in the weeks to come or a marketing activity you’ve been meaning to get around to.

Please let me know how you are staying in touch and building relationships. There will be things that you are doing that I’ve not mentioned here.  Share them in the comments box below.

Finally, if this has inspired you to do something differently please do let me know.

Enjoy your summer, sun and sangria!  Here’s to a fruitful second half of 2014.