I’m So Glad You Called

Article by Joan FriedlanderRecently, two women in one of my Get Clients Now! classes reported that prospects responded to their follow-up calls by saying, “I’m so glad you called.” These women realized that they probably would have lost the business if they waited for these prospects to call them. They got the message: people interested in your services want to hear from you.

Most entrepreneurs I know would prefer to do anything but make marketing calls. They cite reasons that include:

  • not liking to receive marketing calls themselves
  • fear of being rejected
  • not wanting to bother people
  • not knowing what to say

To avoid these feelings, their marketing action plans include all sorts of tactics that they hope will inspire prospects to call them instead. Unfortunately, with this approach, they inadvertently put the future of their business into the hands of their prospects. They’ll send emails until the cows come home or post blog entries to their heart’s content, but ask them if they plan to follow up an email with a call, and all the reasons why not come tumbling out.

Marketing may be a numbers game, but it doesn’t have to be impersonal

How many times have you heard that marketing is a numbers game? While this is meant to inform you not to take it personally when someone says no, you may mistakenly think it means you have to be some quick-talking salesperson and sacrifice the personal connection with the people you call. It doesn’t. It just means you have to get in front of enough prospective clients to connect with those who might actually say, “I’m so glad you called.”

What are the numbers? According to marketing experts:

  • You have to make contact with 30 potential clients to get one sale.
  • It takes an average of 7 contacts with you before a prospect is ready to sign on the dotted line.
  • If you send direct mail (not personal in nature) to 100 people, 1-2 people will become a client or sign up for your offer.

You can achieve four contacts with one prospect pretty quickly: 1) Say hello at a networking event. Get permission to follow up. 2) Call the next day. If you get voice mail or a gatekeeper, leave a message. 3) Send an email or personal note. 4) Call again in few days to ask if they received your email or note.

I prefer to add value to my follow-up communications. What can you send to your prospective customer that will be helpful to him or her? You might send a link to an article you read online, or an article or free report you personally wrote. You might ask your prospects if you can interview them to help you understand what’s going on in their lives or businesses. (This is an especially good tactic when you are still getting to know your target market.) You can invite prospects to join you at an event, or to post a comment to your blog. The list of value-added follow-up activities is limited only by your imagination.

You might be lulled into passivity by the exceptions

I’m willing to bet that some of your clients moved quite quickly from your first connection with them to becoming a customer. This is more likely to happen when someone initiates a call to you rather than the other way around, when someone is already looking for services like yours, or when someone has been referred to you by a person they trust.

Without knowing what typical marketing numbers are, you might think that this immediate “yes” is the norm. So when you get a “no” today, you might take it to mean “no” forever. Rather than coming up with a way to stay connected to those who say no to you the first time around — for example, through a newsletter or periodic mailing — you let them go. You don’t call to check in, not believing that some day they might actually say, “I’m so glad you called.”

Without realizing it, you have become who you said you didn’t want to be, the person focused only on the sale. Not intentionally, of course.

Everyone is busy, even the people who want to hear from you

Anyone who would truly benefit from hiring you, and is the kind of person you want to work with, is someone worth contacting. It’s not your place to decide that they don’t want to hear from you or are too busy to talk. Practically everyone is busy. When you take the time to make a call, the person who has thought about contacting you is relieved that you took the action, not annoyed by it. If he or she can’t actually talk when you call, make a later appointment that works for both of you. Voila! Done. On to the next call.

Follow-up can still be necessary even once you’re finalizing a contract. One of my clients diligently followed up with someone for two straight weeks after he told her he wanted to use her services. She didn’t give up just because he hadn’t signed and returned the contract right away. She just stayed in touch. She assumed his “yes” was really a “yes,” and stuck with him while he worked out what he needed to work out. She continued to answer his questions as needed, too. She never got frustrated, only did what her instincts told her was called for.

You do not need to be that script-reading telemarketer you don’t enjoy hearing from. You get to be just the kind of salesperson you’d like to hear from: polite, interested, respectful, professional, intentional, and focused. And, by no means do you need to have the perfect script. Just keep your attention on the person on the other end of the line, stick to business, and act appropriately.

Try this experiment to find out what happens when you contact people you’d like to work with:

  1. Gather any stacks of cards or leads sitting around your office, or do some new research to identify likely prospects in your target market.
  2. Make a list of those who you think you’d like to work with, and of those with whom you might want to exchange referrals.
  3. Write out a short call script, and a template for a follow-up email that you can modify with some personal touches.
  4. Contact 2-3 of these people per day for the next 2 weeks. Send your follow-up emails and make notes about what happens.

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