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Do you have set procedures in place to follow-up with potential clients, i.e. people who have made an enquiry about your training services, as well as past clients and people in your professional network?
Or have you ever attended a meeting about your training services and felt as though you blew the client away with your pitch, only to never hear from them again?
Often, the reason freelancers fail to seal the deal is a lack of follow-up.
In this week’s blog, we’re taking a look at some of the most effective ways you can follow-up with potential clients and secure that signed training contract.
Don’t let enquiries go cold
When someone contacts you with an initial enquiry, make sure you pop a note in your diary to follow-up with them in a couple of days. You could even say in your initial response that you will be in touch on a specific day to check whether they have any questions at this stage.
According to some of my contacts, Fridays are a good day to follow-up because people are more relaxed and positive thanks to the approaching weekend. There’s no set rule as long as you follow-up when you say you will.
Send follow-up information
If you speak to a potential client on the phone or you meet with them face-to-face, you should always follow-up the enquiry by sending out any information you have promised. Try to do it as soon as you put down the phone or you’re back at work. This might be a copy of your terms and conditions or your contract, or additional information about your training services.
One handy tip is to create a FAQs master document that covers common questions from potential and existing clients. Although you may have discussed a lot of the information in your meeting, giving a potential client a written FAQs document to refer back to can help refresh their memory.
Remind them of the reasons to work with you
Even if you don’t need to send any additional information, I find it works well to email potential clients after a phone call or meeting and say something along the lines of, “It was great to meet/talk to you earlier today. Do you have any questions about anything we discussed?” and then reiterate some of the key points from the meeting, especially anything to which the client responded positively.
If there was something you discussed in a meeting and you were both clearly on the same page, it can work well to mention this in your follow-up email. You could say, “As we discussed earlier, I agree that X, Y or Z would work well for your business and I am excited to explore this in the training”.
This is a popular and effective sales technique, where you subtly remind the potential client that you share common ground. The more someone feels that your values and outlook click with theirs, the harder it is to walk away.
Avoid starting any correspondence to a potential client with words such as ‘I wanted to follow-up…’, ‘I wanted to check in with you….’ In any business, clients are interested in what they want and how you can help them, not what you want.
Agree the next step
Again, it is a common sales technique to make sure that, before you conclude a conversation with a prospective client, you get them to agree the next step. This might be agreeing that you’ll send a follow-up email once they’ve had a chance to consult with others in their team, especially if they’re not the decision-maker, or agreeing that you will send a training proposal/pitch or quote by a specific date.
Agreeing the next step removes any ambiguity about who needs to do what next, and when they need to do it.
Stay fresh in potential clients’ minds
If someone has contacted you in the past to enquire about your services, you might want to contact them if you launch a new service or training programme that you feel would be a good fit for their business.
I would suggest making this email, letter or phone call as personalised as possible. Remind them when they contacted you and what they contacted you about, and explain why you are contacting them. This doesn’t need to be a hard sell – you could let them know that you thought this information might be of interest. It shows that they are still present in your mind and keeps your business present in theirs.
Connect with them on LinkedIn
If you meet a potential client at a networking event or receive an enquiry, you could send an email to ask whether they would be happy to connect with you on LinkedIn and then follow-up with a personalised connection request that reminds them who you are and how you’re connected. This can be especially effective if you have recommendations from other customers and a complete profile, as it may help the potential client to understand more about your client base and how you can work with their business.
If you publish regular blog posts and share them on LinkedIn, this can be a great way to build your reputation and show potential clients that you know your stuff.
Say thank you
It’s not just potential clients we should all be following up with. Past and existing clients are ultimately where the money is. They know and have used your business – and have hopefully been happy with your training – and you already know they will pay for your services, so it’s important to stay fresh in their minds. You might do this by adding them to your mailing list (with their permission) and sending out a regular newsletter but sometimes the more personal approach can make a big difference.
In these days of overcrowded inboxes, many of us are nostalgic for good old-fashioned snail mail, especially when the only things that drop on to the doormat are junk mail or bills. To give one of your past clients a warm glow, why not try sending out a handwritten thank you note, flowers or even an article from an industry magazine that you think might be of interest to them?
A small but thoughtful gesture that says to past clients, “Thank you for your business. I value you as a client”, can be a great way to secure repeat work.