Start ups face an array of challenges during the initial few years of their establishment. While striking the magical break-even figures as soon as possible might be the aim for many, one of the biggest challenges for small businesses is to identify the fine line between effective following up on prospects and bothering them with pushy emails and calls. Despite the dilemma, it is very important for businesses in their formative years to reach out to new customers as much as possible, whether at meetings, business events or through email/social media.
In any business, there is great importance on networking and building connections with prospects. Most Business Development associates are quick at sending product information whenever they receive queries. But, shocking as it may seem, it is found that they don’t do enough when it comes to following up with prospective clients. Usually, most small ventures prefer to sit back and wait for a reply after the initial query and response. Needless to say, a positive response seldom comes gift-wrapped knocking at your door.
Most small business owners choose not to follow-up for the fear of appearing too pushy. While too many calls and follow up emails can indeed drive prospects away, the startling fact is that not many of small businesses ever come close to crossing the line of moral code of conduct. In fact, it is common observation that lack of follow-up efforts can be held accountable for losing business opportunities from prospective clients, and not the excess of it.
One of the most common beliefs among small businesses says that opportunities in the form of prospective clients don’t come walking on their own. Customers may not take the pains to contact the sellers or service providers directly for a variety of reasons even if they are in need of solutions. Sometimes, a prospect may have queries about your offering which he might not directly come and ask. At other times, he may not understand how your product applies to his requirements, or he might be thinking of buying the product not right now but may be after two months. Follow-ups come in handy on such occasions by providing the opportunity to educate your customers and let the prospects appreciate your efforts in helping to fulfill their business needs.
What is required in such a scenario is a standard follow-up process that can strike a balance between being too pushy and not following up at all? The idea is to focus on the value addition in a particular relationship, in a way that a silent reminder is sent across at the same time. It is advisable for you to be responsive at the same time. It is advised to avoid appearing forceful irrespective of the medium of communication, be it on the phone, email, a social media platform or in a face-to-face meeting.
It should appear that you are out to build a lasting relationship with a client—at times by adding some supportive information, useful links, birthday cards, anniversary cards, notes of appreciation—rather than trying to sell your product across. If you share ideas, ask questions and try to understand their needs, it might leave a good impression on their minds regarding your business sense. On the other hand, if you call and focus on selling every time, by repeating the same message, again and again, there are chances that your calls go unanswered and disrespected.
While most small business owners agree that follow-ups are a necessary part of business, they might find it challenging to accommodate them in their busy schedules. Many in the sales domain would agree that it even gets difficult to remember the names sometimes!
Following a systematic approach by making a list of the important prospects, setting up reminders on calendars, deciding a follow-up plan, and recording the process can help you find your way out of the unyielding follow-up dilemma.