“It’s about freely communicating and responding through touch and keeping connected to another person physically.” – Sue Lauther
In the last exposition, we spoke about putting in efforts to turn a cold lead to a buying customer. We also mentioned that it may not always be possible to get people to start buying immediately, and they may ‘reserve’ their interest for later. Research shows that only about 2% customers convert even through the best of first time sales efforts, while the remaining 98% would change their mind only post the establishment of trust and rapport with the company. The sad part is that companies forget to follow up on at least 80% of sales leads – that is a huge amount of wasted opportunity and loss of potential income. Given that there are other players in the market, it becomes even more important to keep in touch with prospective customers lest they forget about your company because of the ‘attention’ they receive. Allowing them to forget about your brand / offerings by not staying connected with them is a serious business lapse for any company.
We know it is important to keep in touch, but what are some of the best methods to ensure that prospective customers soon become engaged enough to buy. Many companies and their representatives, fare poorly with regard to following up with prospective customers and as a result, lose the goodwill and any hope of ever getting these ‘prospects’ to convert. Follow up or keeping in touch with prospective customers does not mean becoming annoying, or constantly taking up their time with demands for appointments or being sneaky by trying to make a sale. When approaching prospective customers, companies must keep an open mind-set that would keep them flexible and resilient enough to engage in a consistent dialogue that would build rapport and trust with the target customer. This is the time to show your company’s abilities, expertise, and experience – aspects that will draw the prospective customers in, making them want to form a long-term association with a company. In fact follow up with prospective customers is one of the most important and critical tasks for any company today. There is no dearth of companies trying to snatch away existing and possible customers of a company – given the highly crunched market.
Companies very often are caught up in the excitement and buzz that comes with focusing on brand new customers, getting their attention, and ‘pitching’ ideas and solutions to them. However, once the initial stimulation wanes, they forget that following up with the customers they interacted with is as vital to building a relationship as the initial introduction of the company. Failure to follow up and keep in touch with all the prospective customers and people met at various networking events means that your company would have wasted all that time, energy, money, and effort put in to arrange the meetings to start with. The initial meetings are just grounds for an introduction – with so many choices it is unlikely that people would choose to remember the company and hence it is in the best interest of a company to work on building a relationship, and ensuring that they keep in regular touch with prospective customers. Without a referral or a testimony, people find it hard to trust companies and in the business world, it is known that people only buy when they trust and like a company.
As mentioned, people have short attention spans. They would rather respond to a company that connects with them regularly, than one that assumes that the person would remember them from the last meeting. Of course, companies have the very real fear that constantly connecting may irritate prospective customers or that the company would seem desperate or annoying. Keeping in touch with prospective customers is therefore an art and a skill that require constant upgrading and training. If persistent follow-ups are not an option – neither is giving up on potential business. The fact is that the person your company may be ‘targeting’ could genuinely be a busy person / the top person in the company, or the person’s phone number / email id could have changed, your company could be sending messages to the wrong person – all reasons why a prospective customer may not be responding. Rather than giving up on possible business, it would be prudent to evaluate the reasons and look at different methods of getting in touch with the ‘person of interest’.
Whatever method a company decides to use, the important thing to remember is that the communication must be professional, personalized, well-timed, relevant, value-added, and engaging. It should give the prospective customers a reason to read the communiqués and want to revert to take the association forward. One of the most effective methods of keeping in touch with prospective customers is top quality content – things that the potential customer can use and benefit from. Great content just ‘pops’ – it stands out and ensures that readers change their perspective about the company and feel encouraged to connect.
Content can take different forms – this would ensure that the recipients remain interested and look forward to receiving these ‘pearls of wisdom’ from the company. It could publish articles that highlight its expertise and knowledge on a range of subjects. These articles would help the readers and existing and prospective customers in solving issues they may face in their business and or personal lives or simply prove to be thought-provoking and enlightening reads. Whatever purpose these articles serve, the fact is that customers will remember the company and would be more likely to connect when they do need the products and or services offered by the company. Newsletters informing existing and prospective customers about the various aspects of the company serve to keep the company transparent and honest with them. These newsletters must reflect the culture and vision of the company such that prospective customers know what to expect if they were to associate with the company. Over time such value-added communications and messages build a connection and establish an unsaid relationship, which could be the stepping stone for business from hitherto unsure people. There are of course, videos and other kinds of content that a company must regularly post and publish – especially on social media sites. These are great platforms to receive instant reactions, thereby letting a company know which kinds of content find favour and which ones existing and prospective customers would reject outright.
Keeping in touch with prospective customers is as critical as staying in contact with existing ones, and it would be great for a company to organize events and networking meets. Such activities not only put your company out there, garnering attention for it, they are a great way to reach out to a wider audience and be introduced to several prospective customers from varying industries. If organizing events may seem too tedious and or expensive, it would behove the leaders of the company to attend such events that constantly happen around their city and surrounding regions. The investment of time and resources would be well worth the effort – would raise awareness about the company and provide opportunities for face to face interactions with several leaders of companies – which may not always be possible under normal circumstances.
Whatever the approach a company decides to take, the fact is that keeping in touch with prospective customers (and existing ones) is quintessential to the success of a business and would help it to grow. No company can afford to pass up on the opportunities since competitors are many, and customers have higher expectations and demands.