A few days ago I met someone who was planning to attend the same University as me and read the same degree. They wanted to speak to someone who’s been there and done it, and I agreed to meet up for a chat over some coffee. What happened 2 days later, left me absolutely god-smacked. I received a Thank you note. Yes, a Thank You note. A hand-written, coming-through-the-post Thank you note! I must admit, that was a first. I was impressed by the gesture as well as the thought behind it.
It made me think about follow up emails (the Thank you notes in the business and sales world). Customers are flooded with choice. There is a sea of products and service vendors who offer the same thing as you. So how do you show your appreciation to the prospect that has picked your business?
It never ceases to amaze me how only a handful of business people take the time to follow-up after they have made initial contact with a prospect or customer. A simple thank you for meeting up with me email, thank you for choosing us, or do you have any further questions, takes no more than 5 minutes to produce, yet the benefits are enormous. For example, a good follow up email may be just the reminder a prospect needs to go ahead with a sale. It shows your consideration as well as the maturity and professionalism of your business. So follow up emails are not only a tool for closing a sale, but also a way to present yourself and your company.
(To discover more about why, when and how to follow up, have a look at our Small Business Growth Formula)
Reasons people don’t write follow up emails:
- Too busy – I have heard this excuse so many times. We are all busy! A follow up however doesn’t take too much of your time. How long do you need to write an email or to make a phone call? Think about it, as those few minutes you decide to spare, may cost you the deal! If you really lack the time, simply read these Small Business Productivity Hacks that should free up a couple of hours a day for you.
- Don’t want to appear pushy – Nobody wants to appear pushy. The aim of a follow up email is not to overwhelm the client, but to remind them that you are there for them. So don’t sound too insistent, but rather try to be helpful. Solve a problem.
- Forget – following up from excuse number one, sales people often forget to follow up. In an age when we can set tasks and reminders and schedule events in advance, forgetting is not a good-enough reason not to follow up. Simply make it a routine. Set yourself a reminder as soon as the meeting is over.
- You don’t know how – many haven’t been trained, but guess what, following up is not rocket science. Approach the email in a friendly manner. What would you say to that person if you just met them on the street? Thank you for meeting up, do you have any other questions? I thought of a way to solve issues X,Y and Z for you etc. Show that you are attentive and that you care.
How to write follow up emails?
- Tasks and reminders – set yourself a reminder to follow up as soon as the meeting is over. We live busy and fast paced lives and if you are like me, unless you set a task or write it down in your diary, it will never get done. So the first step to a follow up is making sure to remember to follow up.
- Have a pre-written email – Some people find it difficult writing a follow up email. There are many examples, but the best solution would be to sit down and pre-write a few template emails that would be suitable for you and your particular business. Try to keep them friendly and personal. Make sure however that the actual email that you send doesn’t sound like a pre-filled form.
- Encourage a reply. During follow-up, it’s important to ask questions and then listen. You could ask: What did you think of the quote? Or how did you feel about the offer we made? Asking open-ended questions gives you an opportunity to gather more information from the prospect to pinpoint his or her needs accurately as well as deepening the relationship.
Follow up emails are all about the routine. If you get used to following up, you will find it impossible to do business without the courtesy email a few days or weeks after a meeting with a potential client. You will create a better bond with the client which will also pay-off in the long term since you will be creating not a one-off customer but rather tending to a loyal client.
Just as I was fascinated by a Thank you note, make sure you follow up with your leads and clients. Don’t be a stranger and send that email!
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