Last week I was working with a client and one of their new suppliers. The project was to establish an inventory/ordering system that worked for them. Switching from one system to another always takes time and can be frustrating but there is light at the end of the tunnel – they will save time and money!
Three days after this meeting I received a phone call from the suppler. The Account Rep was following up to see if everything arrived ok, and to see if we had identified new questions or problems. Receiving this call was like a breath of fresh air. It also reminded me at how valuable this short call is when you are the customer.
Following up is a vital part of business. Your success hinges on it, yet it is often the last thing given time and attention. (I have been guilty in falling behind on my follow-through too).
The “SPARK How to’s” for Following Up
1. Seeds of Inspiration — Keep notes on every client, what they do, personal information (hobbies, interests, family etc) they’ve shared with you, ideas they have mentioned for future projects, the type of work you have done for them and when, ideas that you think could help them
2. Plan the Follow-Up — Every business works more efficiently when they have a plan. Creating a follow-up plan will allow you to schedule your follow-up in a way that allows you to keep in touch without being “a nuisance”. Identify articles, resources, opportunities etc. where you can reconnect with everyone in your network. What is the best communication channel to reach each person?
There are numerous ways to keep in touch with your current and past clients. There is no best way. You have to identify the communication channel that works for you and your clients. I recommend using a variety of different channels
- In person —
- Invite them for coffee
- Invite them to attend a meeting or event with you
- Networking events
- Phone Calls A phone call is a great option with a personal touch.
- Handwritten Note
- Cards for special events or seasonal celebrations
- Article/Resource Sharing
- and more….
3. Act on the Plan — A plan offers you a map of what you want to achieve. In order to get to your destination (get new clients, referrals or repeat business). Following up offers you information, feedback, opportunities to share and to receive.
A Customer Relations management program is a great tool to help you automate this plan with outward communication. The one I like is Infusionsoft because it combines CRM and e-commerce. It also helps me keep track of key information on each customer, colleague and friend. Some others include Quickbase from Intuit, Zoho.com, and Salesforce.
Don’t forget to share your successes with your network. If you have received an award, had an article featured in a newspaper, magazine or on-line, share it with others. These successes can add to your credibility and help build confidence in the mind of others about what you can achieve.
4. Recognize, Review, Respect
Another part of your follow-through plan is to recognize the accomplishments of others. If a client or colleague receive an award, change jobs or get a promotion, you have a natural “touch point” to connect with them. Don’t forget birthdays, anniversaries and special occasions too.
Review your plan and make changes based on the efforts that are working, and eliminate or tweak those that are not. Every good plan needs to be revisited and reevaluated to be sustainable over the long-term.
5. Keep Connected and Building Your Network
image: stuart miles| freedigitalphotos.net