Prospect Follow-Up is Not a Sprint – It’s a Marathon

Today’s commercial real estate landscape looks far different than it did a decade ago – even just a few years ago, in fact. While personal connections and relationship management are still solid and traditional ways of communicating with your prospects, the Internet has changed the way we do business.

We’re connected in ways that we never thought imaginable. As such, consumers have become accustomed to near instant responses, unparalleled information and transparency, and expect sales professionals to go above and beyond in all new ways. These aren’t options in today’s market; they’re requirements. If so, how do you stand out from the crowd?

It’s in the follow-up. In many industries, it’s estimated that it takes between 7 and 13 sales touches to convert a prospect into a client. Whether you’re calling, sending drip emails, touching via social media, or work tirelessly for the in-person meeting, follow-up is a marathon – not a sprint. It requires a plan – and your dedication – to see it through to fruition.

How to Make Your Follow-Up Go the Distance

When it comes to making your follow-up go the distance, a good CRM system can do wonders for your closing rate. Not only will it keep you organized, many great systems will alert you when it’s time to make a touch and will allow you to make notes on pertinent information and your most recent interactions – thus allowing you to tailor your contact to be more personable.

But what else can you do? Here are a few tips:

  1. Follow-up immediately after the first contact. Just last week a customer of mine called and said “Steve, you have to talk to Mr. XYZ, the CEO of ABC Co.  I just told him how great your product is and he’s expecting your call.”  I called him about 2 minutes after that conversation.  There have been a number of studies on lead follow up that indicate time is of the essence.  I know if I had called Mr. XYZ even a few hours later, he would not have remembered the conversation with my customer. Whether you’ve just met a prospect for coffee, spent some time on the phone or exchanged business cards on the subway, be sure to follow-up right away.  Even a quick “thank you” to show appreciation for the prospect’s time can go a long way.
  2. Create value for the prospect. During your follow-up, always try to create an immediate value for your prospects. Maybe this means you introduce them to a contractor who can make repairs to their property or to a mortgage lender you know does a great job. You’ll instantly bring something of value to the relationship, and your prospect will remember that.
  3. Use technology to your advantage. With so much technology available to you, why not use it to your advantage? Reach out to your prospects via social media. Connect with them where they’re interacting and you’ll find yourself in the middle of the conversation.  Social media is not a silver bullet…but not being on a social media is a good way to ensure you are not even a part of the conversation.  Technology for the sake of technology is just noise, but technology with a very defined objective and  purpose is a game changer.  
  4. Don’t underestimate the importance of lead intelligence. Lead intelligence, or gathering as much information on the prospect as possible, is hugely beneficial when making follow-up connections. When you know more about your lead, you can custom tailor your responses and interactions.
  5. Keep going … and going. Follow-up takes time, patience and a plan. Just because a prospect has seemingly fallen off, it doesn’t mean you stop interacting. Develop a plan for prospect follow-up – maybe using technologies that help with drip campaigns – to stay on top of your game.
  6. Know when to quit.  While this may seem entirely contradictory to item #5, there is a time to give up.  We have a sales person in the office here who is consistently number one in her weekly calls.  She makes more calls than anyone, but when we drilled down on her call to closing ratio it was clear the quality of her calls were not as good.  As we investigated further, it became obvious that she was spending too much time on follow up with unqualified leads and not enough time focused on new business.  There is a time to give up the ghost.

 

Happy prospecting!

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