Ok, I gotta level with you- I have no idea if following up in your business will get you better skin, but it probably won’t hurt… One of the quickest and easiest things I implement with my clients to get a quick bump in revenue is to have them go back and follow up with all of their lost bids or bids that didn’t happen.
So there is the quick and easy big money secret to kick this party off! Now lets jump into the even bigger money that takes a little more time to get done but can bring a line of customers to your door. It’s a fun little secret called…
Sorry… too much with the yelling? I can’t help it, I get fired up about this stuff.
When I say follow up I’m sure many of you start picturing incessantly calling customers who go into hiding 6 seconds after they get your bid. I will talk about how to avoid that nonsense in another post, but today we are most definitely not going to spend a lot of time on chasing/ begging customers over the phone.
The most effective (and time consuming) method of follow up is the phone, but results vary widely depending on who is doing the calling and how your company and the salesperson has been positioned prior to the call. These are all exciting topics, but we have so much good automated stuff to cover, we will save all that love for a different day.
Today we are going to focus on systems that you can put into place that ensure ALL of your customers are followed up with well regardless of whether or not you have well or poorly trained sales people who happen to be having a good or bad day and so on and so forth.
These four strategies are meant to be set up and built into your organization and for you and your business to continue getting value for years to come no matter who is doing the “selling”. Let’s dive in…
I am talking about sending people good old fashioned dead trees in their mailboxes.
Before you let out a big exaggerated sigh, let me throw some of the downsides/ objections you are probably already screaming at your computer…
- Newsletters cost actual money. Paper, ink, printing and postage are NOT free- sad but true
- Newsletters take time to put out and are a pain in the butt to create
Now on to the excuses for NOT sending a newsletter…
- I send an email newsletter… most months… so, yeah… I’m good
- I sent a paper newsletter once and it didn’t work- total waste of time
Well allow me to retort…
Unlike email, newsletters do cost money and they can be HUGE pain in the butt to put out is actually one of the reasons they are so effective. Your current, previous and prospective customers are NOT getting a newsletter from every one of your competitors (unlike email). Newsletters have a far higher perceived (and actual) value and it is a great way to stay in touch with customers that aren’t ready today, but most certainly will be in the next 12 months.
That is the awesome thing about our business. Most (if not all) of your competition is only focused on people looking for their services NOW. This is a crowded, price sensitive space. When you cultivate relationships with people that you know are very likely to be interested in your services sometime over the next 12 months, when the time comes for your prospect to make a change, you will be the only one that has been building that relationship for the last year making you extremely difficult to compete with. Often times you can position yourself as the only bid they get!!
Enough of my soapbox, let’s talk a little about the excuses not to send a newsletter. We can start with:
I send an email newsletter… most months… so, yeah… I’m good
Here are some facts to consider if you are making that excuse:
- The shelf life of an email is equivalent to a sneeze.
- The average American gets over 100 emails every day, but less than FOUR pieces of real mail per day.
- Newsletters last an average of FOUR MONTHS before they are discarded.
- Newsletters have a high “pass along” value and dramatically increase referrals
There is nothing wrong with emailing an electronic version of your newsletter to your prospects, past and current customers, but you MUST send a physical version as well for true impact.
What about the old- “I sent a paper newsletter once and it didn’t work- total waste of time”?
Newsletters are all about consistency. If you are inconsistent with sending your newsletter, you will actually end up conveying the opposite message you are trying to.
Newsletters can take 3-6 months to really get rolling, but once they do, they are the kind of asset that will bring your business returns forever.
If you send 1-3 newsletters over a 3-6 month span, you are almost guaranteed failure, but when you crank out a newsletter with good content for 6-12 months, this alone can double your business.
So, what is “good content”, what should you put in your newsletter? I thought you would never ask!!
The temptation is to invest a whole bunch of ink on your business, your products and services- but this is NOT what your readers want to hear about- here are the keys to the newsletter kingdom:
- 50% of the newsletter should be FUN stuff about you and your staff personally, so they can get to know you- your favorite recipes, vacation stories, marriage, kids- fun, easy to read stuff that allows your audience to feel they KNOW YOU.
- 40% of your newsletter should be about the benefits of the results of your service to your customer– NO sales or promotion
- 10% of your newsletter can be used for educating people about your services and offerings and the benefits they offer your customers- great place for testimonials or case studies
The easiest way to put together a newsletter is to just take a 11”X17” piece of paper and fold it in half to make a 4 page (front and back) 8.5”X11” newsletter
BONUS LOVIN: A single brightly colored page inside your newsletter is a great way to promote your products and services. Only type on one side, and keep it simple and clean
Before we move on take a minute to think about how many e-newsletters you get. Have a number? Awesome- how many do you actually read??
How many physical newsletters do you get? Zero? One? How much time do you spend with them and how long do you keep them before you throw them out? Longer than it takes to delete the e-newsletters?
Other forms of direct mail- postcards, every door direct, packages, etc. can be extremely profitable old school methods. They actually tend to work better now that people are inundated with email and still look forward to getting something in the mail.
FUN FACT: According to Direct Mail News, in 2012 the average response rate for direct mail was 4.4% for B2B and B2C- considerably higher than industry expectations, and surging past email’s response rate of just 0.12%
Now that we have effectively told you how paper newsletters are so far superior to email newsletters, let’s jump right into how to use email properly and actually make money with it…
Aside from the “free” factor, emails can be automated. This gives you the freedom and leverage to invest the time to create multiple email sequences specifically targeted to different types of customers you serve in different stages of buying.
BONUS LOVIN: Email sequences can be as simple as a single email or auto response, or as complex as hundreds of emails automatically sent out over a year or two.
Check out a few examples of different types of customers you serve
- Business owners
- Single men in their 40’s
- Stay at home moms
- Kids with chickenpox
And here are some examples of where people might be in your sales funnel (buying stages)
- Prospects that have requested or received information, but you have not given a bid to
- Prospects that you have given a bid to but not heard back from
- Current customers
- Past customers
Can you see the value of crafting specific messages that speak directly to the wants and needs of each of these different types of people for each stage that they are in? I takes an impersonal “form email” and allows the buyer to feel like you wrote a 1 on 1 email specifically to him or her and that you understand them and their hopes needs and fears.
The key to writing emails that get opened is
- Make it about them and what is important to them
- Make it INTERESTING
Short and to the point is good- less than 5 lines is ideal. If you have something longs (and it is excellent content), tease the full content with a 3-5 line email and include a link to the full content which is ideally on your web page. Another powerful medium for longer content (as well as something short and easy) is video. People are far more likely to watch a video than read a loooonnngggg email and they will often engage better with video. Very powerful and very exciting when you automate the entire system…
RESOURCE ALERT: Here are some software solutions (called autoresponders) that you can use to automate this process:
Of course there are others, but those are some of the bigger, more popular options. Infusionsoft is the most expensive and offers some pretty exciting options. Aweber and Mailchimp are much cheaper, but don’t do as much.
It can take a lot of work to set up, but once you have your autoresponders in place, your people will magically move down your sales funnel with virtually no additional work from you or your staff.
BONUS LOVIN: Use email for quick revenue bumps.
If you have 1,000 people on your list and you send an email offering a $299 INSERT YOUR SERVICE HERE special, a 1% response rate would generate (10) jobs at $299 which sounds a lot like three thousand bucks-
What about emailing a “free trial service” to 100 of your BEST prospects. You might get 30% (30) to take you up on such a great offer. If only 33% of those end up as clients, you just added TEN NEW CLIENTS- not bad for a single email.
BONUS LOVIN: After your email sequence is complete you can add them to your list of people that gets your newsletter!
And now for a note from our sponsor Captain Obvious… There are two main categories of events:
- Events you create/ host/ put on
- Events others create/ host/ put on
One fun and easy event for you to host is a monthly customer/ vendor/ employee appreciation event. If you have an office you can invite everyone to your place on a Friday afternoon, serve food give awards and prizes- just hang out and get to know everyone.
If you don’t have an office, fear not- reserve a park, rent an inflatable bounce house, and/ or a dunk tank for your employees/ customers to try and dunk you in- throw some meat on the BBQ and commence the fun!
If you don’t have an office and the weather is awful, you are still have options! Partner with a supplier or other business (with an office or warehouse) in your town that also serves your customer and would benefit from hosting the event. The key thing is to get people out of their regular work environment, feed them and have some fun! Here are some of the benefits you will get:
- Current customers love you and they stay customers much longer
- Current customers bring other potential customers to your events
- You invite prospective customers who are told at the party just how great you are by your current customers
- Employees/ vendors have a great time and are tend to stick with your company longer and with much more loyalty
Another event you can host is a Lunch Party or a Lunch & Learn.
NOTE: This strategy is really only for your commercial customers
Limit this to your best 10-15 customers and prospects- reserve a room at a local restaurant and buy everyone lunch.
As people enter, set up a backdrop and take their picture (like a movie star) and video you or an employee asking them questions about themselves, their company and their relationship with your company. You can bet you are going to walk away with a video testimonial from every customer in attendance!
After everyone is seated, enjoy lunch and make friends. You will notice your guests making friends with each other positioning you as the hub in your industry- hard to put a price on that…
After everyone’s done eating, you might give a BRIEF presentation (10-20 min at the most). This is optional and it MUST be focused on information beneficial to your prospects and clients and have ZERO “sales pitch” associated. Your only goal is to give information and be a resource.
After your presentation, go around the room and survey each of your clients and prospects with easy open ended questions like:
- Do you have any fun stories specific to working with your type of business? (Good ice breaker)
- What is your biggest business frustration?
- What is your biggest frustration with your vendors?
- What is the one thing you wish we did that we don’t?
- What is the one thing that you would immediately fire us for?
- What would we have to offer if our prices were 50% higher
- What would be the one thing stopping you from recommending us to a colleague?
- Do you have anyone you think would benefit from our services that we could offer a free service since you are such a great customer and you referred them?
BONUS LOVIN: Limit each person’s time to 2-5 minutes so it doesn’t go too long- you can usually only get away with an hour for the whole event
That’s it. The goal is to position yourself in the minds of your prospects and clients as a hub of valuable information and contacts while collecting a TON of referrals, testimonials and goodwill.
Now that you have a couple ways to create a legendary event of your own, let’s check out ways to build your business with events put on by others.
These aren’t really ”follow up” but we are on the topic of events and other people’s events can make your business rich.
The key is to go where your target customers are.
Tradeshows are a great way to connect with tons of prospects at one time. The trade shows your prospects attend, not cleaning industry tradeshows, full of your competitors and nary a prospective customer in sight.
KEY POINT: If you are going to be at a tradeshow/ industry event where there will be speakers- BE A SPEAKER
Being a speaker at a tradeshow or industry event has so many benefits:
- Instead of paying for your ticket and/ or a booth, you get in free and often get paid to speak
- Instant Authority/ Expert status
- Instead of chasing clients, they tend to seek you out after you speak
If you can’t get booked as a speaker, get a booth- if you can’t or won’t get a booth, at least attend to get to know your prospects face to face.
BONUS LOVIN: This is where you use your automated email sequence to follow up with everyone you meet at the tradeshow with a personalized email sequence that incorporates the trade show into the emails
Don’t stop with tradeshows. Go to any event where your customers are- networking groups, Chamber of Commerce meetings, Entrepreneurs groups- anywhere your prospects and customers congregate is a fantastic opportunity.
Before you move on think of some creative events you could attend, speak at, or put on and how you can use that to connect with your prospects and clients….
Done? Lovely- here is the final strategy to follow up with your customers and explode your business…
We talked a little about one form of survey (in person) in the events section of this blog, but it is so chock full of opportunity for your company, I wanted to expand on it here. Let’s start with a more complete list of questions you might ask in a survey:
- What is your biggest frustration at work?
- What is your process for selecting a vendor?
- What is your least favorite thing about dealing with our type of service?
- If you had a magic wand and could get anything you wanted from our services, what would it be?
- What would we have to do to get you to switch to our company? What could we do to get you to switch even if we cost more money?
- What is your biggest frustration at work?
- What one thing are we doing or could we do to get you to fire us?
- If you had a magic wand and could get any one thing from us not related to price, what would it be?
- What is your favorite thing about our company that you would like to see more of?
- Would you recommend us?
- Do you have anyone you would like to recommend us to right now?
- What is your biggest frustration at work?
- Why did you really leave?
- What would we have to do to earn back your business?
- What is the new company doing that we should have done?
- What is the number one thing you miss about working with us?
Don’t just use this to improve your service offerings, use what they tell you VERBATIM in your marketing copy. It is so much easier to ask people what they want and to give it to them than try to get them to buy what you want to sell them.
Be creative in how you use surveys. Here are some awesome ideas to get your juices flowing:
- Online surveys with companies like www.SurveyMonkey.com
- Fed Ex a survey (include a self addressed stamped envelope and a small gift)
- At events both yours and other peoples
- Your website (best w/ one question surveys)
- A P.S. in all of your company’s outgoing emails (again best w/ one question surveys)
- When you lose a customer or a bid
- Just like all the other concepts, you need to be creative (check out our blogpost on how to be a clean (CLN) company- Creative – Lucrative – NOT Stressful) for a metric ton of creative ideas.
Man, that seemed like a lot of typing and a lot of business building genius. Nice job on reading to the end. Feel free to shoot me an email email@example.com and let me know some success stories from the strategies in this blog- or just leave a comment below!