Unique Follow-Up Methods
Time to get creative. Time to stand apart. You cannot copy everyone else’s efforts and think you will get different results.
You can think of follow-up as a tedious and unwanted chore. Or you can approach it as an opportunity for creativity, uniqueness, and yes—fun. Your mental approach is half the battle.
As you read through this important chapter, let me encourage you to really flex your imagination muscles. Don’t just get outside the box; get a mile away from the box.
In fact, let me challenge you with this question: What have I missed? Come up with follow-up methods that are unique, unconventional, and memorable.
THE BENEFIT OF UNIQUENESS
We live in a world of sameness. We are marketing copycats. If I dropped you into a major department store chain, you probably couldn’t tell me which one you were in unless you saw a sign.
We wear the same jeans. We eat the same french fries. We watch the same teams. Until we don’t. Because when someone comes along with a new and different approach, we pay attention.
• Remember when the iPhone first came out? Whether you bought one or not, you knew all about it.
• Coffee used to be boring . . . until Starbucks came along and made it hip.
• Taxi rides were crapshoots at best. Uber changed that game.
In these cases, and so many more, it was the uniqueness that drew our attention. So what about your current follow-up efforts? Can you truly call them unique? If not, why would they stand apart from the noise of all the other marketing that inundates your customer’s brain?
I’ve listed a number of follow-up opportunities that are, in my opinion, underutilized. Some of them will be newer to you; others will be “old school” techniques.
Look at this list actively. Think about a current prospect, someone who is due for a follow-up outreach. What could you put into action from this list of techniques? Nodding your head and saying, “Yeah, that’s a decent idea,” will get you nowhere. It is action alone that makes us great.
Here we go . . .
Really, Jeff? You’re going to start there? It’s like the oldest follow-up method known to man.
That’s true; handwritten notes are as old as our ability to write. In fact, for the longest time handwritten notes were the only way to follow up.
But let me ask you two questions. First, when was the last time you received a personalized, handwritten note in the mail? Second, if you did receive something personalized and handwritten, did you not move that piece of correspondence to the top of the stack?
The fact is that we rarely receive handwritten notes in society today. But when we do, we esteem them highly. Handwritten notes say, “I cared enough to take the time.” If you want an easy way to prove your dedication, here it is.
Five minutes of your time, 50 cents in postage, and bang—you’ve made an impression.
Messenger or Singing Telegram
These are not new, by any means, but they aren’t used often anymore. That’s the point. Do something unexpected even if it’s old-fashioned or out of favor. Would you pay attention if someone came to your door wearing a costume and singing a follow-up message, or would you slam the door in their face? I rest my case.
Much has been written about the use of social media for marketing purposes, but what about for follow-up?
It’s worth having a presence on social media and putting valuable content there regularly so your customers who are social users will be reminded in a positive way of your existence, but don’t expect to use it for follow-up. There is only so much impact you can make on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.
The danger: These tools are primarily seen as social tools, not business tools. Marketers can certainly attract attention through general targeting, but accomplishing personalized follow-up is quite difficult.
There is, however, a great benefit to social media as an educational tool for you. This is a great way to get to know your prospects on a deeper level, and that enhanced knowledge gives you new insights into how to personalize your follow-up. (Don’t worry about ethical violations here; if they didn’t want the information to be public, they would not have posted it on the Internet in the first place. Just don’t overwhelm them with your knowledge of their personal details; you’ll look stalkerish.)
Suppose you are selling pool installations, a high-priced discretionary purchase. Question: Do you know a good landscaper? Because your client is going to need one.
Consider the product you are selling and ask yourself what else clients might need once they purchase. It might not be something you can provide, but they will definitely appreciate a referral to someone you trust.
Gifts and Swag
Many companies have merchandise lying around the office that would be coveted by a prospect. Is there something you could offer that would be appreciated?
I purchased a hockey stick recently, and the company shipped it to me along with a T-shirt with the company name and logo. It was a $300 hockey stick, and they threw in a $10 T-shirt . . . which I proceeded to wear to the hockey rink around my teammates. That’s great marketing!
But there is a deeper reason why this is effective; it goes by the principle of reciprocity. According to Dr. Robert Cialdini in his book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, people are 13 times more likely to do something for you if you do something for them first.
Want them to return your call? Or to commit to another visit? Send them a gift before you make the ask.
I worked in an office environment for years, and there were always free tickets floating around. Minor league baseball games, art and wine festivals, local concerts, movies—all provide excellent opportunities for follow-up (assuming that the size of such a gift does not violate your, or your prospect’s, corporate ethics policies).
Remember what we said about the principle of reciprocity. When we do something for others, they notice, they appreciate it, and they will naturally want to repay the gesture in some way. If nothing else, it prevents them from being rude the next time you reach out!
Personalized Video Testimonials from Past Clients
I addressed the use of video in the last chapter, but this is slightly different. People naturally trust those with whom they have something in common. So find a past client who is in a similar situation as a prospect and interview her for three minutes about her buying experience.
Suppose you are selling vacation properties in a resort area. You are working with a prospect who is interested, but is tentative about tying up such a large sum of money. Call up a past client and head on over with your smartphone. Set up the phone on a tripod and spend three minutes asking questions about his experience. Here’s the kicker: Show that customer fully enjoying his new home. Sitting on a deck by a lake, or standing at the first tee, or having a cup of coffee looking out at the skiers.
Your videos don’t have to be of you. They may be far more powerful if they feature those who have already made the commitment.
Note from Your Boss or Company Owner
Do you think your boss would take five minutes to write a handwritten note (or even an email) if it meant closing a sale? I think the answer is yes.
Customers absolutely love hearing from the big boss. It makes them feel valued and important. The psychology of honor is an incredibly powerful motivating factor.
Here’s the good news: You can write the letter! Just ask your boss to copy and paste the content into an email. Low effort and high payoff. Sounds like a winning formula.
Team Message to a Prospect
I was working with a group of real estate professionals in Atlanta, and I had recommended that each sales professional send a video message to an active prospect. I had one salesperson who took it to the next level; she recruited several of her peers to join in. The salesperson did the talking while her peers stood in the background.
It went something like this: “Carla, you know I want you to be living in this community. I’ve already told you this is right for you. I want to help you make your dream come true. But I’m not the only one. All my teammates want you here as well. Right, ladies?”
At that point a group cheer went up from the posse. Put yourself in that prospect’s shoes. What is the message? That we out-care the competition!
Note to the Kids or to the Dog
I’m a parent of three and a dog lover. Take care of my kids (including the four-legged kind), and you take care of me.
A note or video to the extended family conveys the idea that you care about the entire family. What a kick it would be for the seven-year-old to get a personalized message! And which of your competitors will even think of that idea? (Answer: none!)
Show Your Support
Your prospect competes in triathlons. Or sells his craft beer at street festivals. Or plays softball on Thursday nights.
Why not pay a visit? And while you’re there waiting for her to cross the finish line, record that moment and send the video to her afterward.
The point is to see more in your prospect than just dollar signs. Take an interest in the lives of your clients. Get to know them and start to appreciate what makes them unique.
HOW WILL YOU STAND OUT?
Let me conclude with a challenge to be truly unique. I’m not talking about a unique follow-up method; I’m talking about the unique you! Great follow-up comes from flexing your creativity muscle and demonstrating your passion. Your customers need exactly that from you. They want you to be creative. They want you to out-care everyone else. They want to have fun during this process.
What do you think? Do you have it in you? Are you up for the challenge to be truly unique?
1. What is the most creative follow-up you’ve ever received from a sales rep . . . or anyone else? How could you adapt the approach to use with your own customers?
2. It’s easy to get stuck in a rut. When have you been most proud of your creative follow-up? How can you get those creative juices flowing again?
3. Take off your selling hat so your brain has room to expand. Now jot down 10 of the craziest ideas you can think of for creative follow-up. Now put your hat back on and tweak two of them for practical application.
4. Spend a few minutes brainstorming with your colleagues or with your family about creative follow-up. Capture all the ideas. Which of these ideas can you apply now in following up with your customers?
5. Would your teammates or your boss be willing to participate in your follow-up actions? If you don’t know, ask them.
Now Do This:
Think of a prospect you have been working with, someone with whom you have a good relationship. Now look through the ideas in this chapter and select just one that you can do right away.
Did you do it? Was it fun? I think you probably just nodded yes. Great! Now do it again!