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5 Proven Follow Up Strategies for Consultants

By Michael Zipursky

Did you know that 80% of sales are made between the fifth and the twelfth contact with your ideal buyer?

What does that mean if you’re like the majority of consultants, professionals and even salespeople? It means you’re losing sales every month due to weak follow up.

The idea is that you shouldn’t try to answer something you don’t know. Because this provides a great opportunity for you to follow up.

This is true with both emails and phone calls. According to TeleNet and Ovation Sales Group in 2007 it took an average of 3.68 cold calls to reach a prospect. Today it takes 8!

Which is a scary reality because the average sales person only makes 2 attempts to reach a prospect (source: Sirius Decisions).

Here’s how the numbers really break down according to

  • 2% of sales are made on the first contact
  • 3% of sales are made on the second contact
  • 5% of sales are made on the third contact
  • 10% of sales are made on the fourth contact
  • 80% of sales are made on the fifth to twelfth contact

If you want to close more sales you need to follow up. You must be in it for the long-term and not give up if things don’t come together for you right away.

In just a few minutes I’ll share with you proven strategies for your follow up that works well for consultants.

But there is another benefit of follow up…

That other benefit is that buyers that you consistently follow up with buy more from you. These ‘nurtured leads’ make 47% larger purchases than non-nurtured leads says the Annuitas Group.

Follow up isn’t simply for phone calls and emails. Once you meet with a buyer follow up is critical. On average people only do one follow up after a meeting. The Marketing Donut reports that 80% of sales require 5 follow-up to make the sale.

Isn’t it interesting that all of these sources point to 5-12 interactions to make a sale to a buyer?

How many are you doing in your business right now?

Is there room for improvement?

We’ve established the importance of follow up. Now let’s look at 5 strategies you can use improve your follow up and make more consulting sales:

1. Focus on Value

If your follow up sounds like this you’re going to want to make some changes…”Hi Name, hope you are doing well. Just wanted to follow up and check in to see how things are going? Would be great to catch up….blah blah.”

Why doesn’t this work? It’s too general. There’s no REASON for the buyer to engage with you. if they weren’t interested before WHY should they be interested now? You need to focus on the value that your service/product will produce for the buyer. How will it solve their problem or help them to achieve a result they are after?

What’s the value the buyer will receive? How will it help THEM and their BUSINESS? Why is it important that they take action on this now rather than wait? Tell them.

2. Success Stories

A great way to emphasize the value the buyer will receive by engaging with you is to share case studies and success stories with them. You can post a case study on your website and send them a link to it. Even print it out and mail it to them (yes, there is a service that still exists called ‘Mail’ and it’s not electronic :).

With this approach you have the opportunity to share with the buyer how someone in a similar situation as they are benefited. What type of value did they receive and what ROI did they achieve? This serves as proof and it’s extremely powerful in helping your buyer BELIEVE that you can really help them.

3. Ideas and Education

One of my early mentors was a guy named Moriya. “Moriya-san” as I called him was the director of a successful ad agency in Japan. He was a great influence and teacher as I built my consultancy in Japan and went on to work with clients like Panasonic, Financial Times, Nissha, Omron and many other Billion dollar companies.

Moriya-san taught me a great way to keep top of mind status with existing and prospective clients. He would always learn as much as he could about their industry. But he’d also clip out any news article that was relevant to the buyer and send it to them. He did this by email as well with online articles.

He consistently sent them educational pieces and would simply say “I was reading this article on XYZ and thought you might be interested. Happy to share some ideas on this with you…” That was pretty much it. No sales push. Just a friendly message.

This showed he cared. But also gave the perception that he was always thinking about them and was ON TOP of what was happening in their industry. Giving them even more reason to work with him.

There were few people that knew more (or at least appeared to) than Moriya-san.

4. You Don’t Need to Know It All

Ever been in a meeting or on a call when a buyer asks you a question and you don’t know the answer?

Rather than trying to respond with a half-baked answer, simply say “That’s a great question. I’m going to send you information on that…” You can then go on to tell them what you know.

The idea is that you shouldn’t try to answer something you don’t know. Because this provides a great opportunity for you to follow up.

There’s no question how powerful follow up is. If you follow this approach I just shared with you you’ll have less follow up to do. And you’ll be able to have more meetings and sales as a result.

You can do the research, find the answer, and then call or email the buyer back to share with them a detailed response. Not only will they appreciate that you didn’t squirm to answer something you didn’t have a confident reply for…but they will appreciate that you looked into it quickly and came back to them with details and suggestions.

Here’s something…

Most people don’t get back to you when they say they will do – if ever.

A great way to differentiate yourself is to do what you say you’re going to do. Impress the hell out of your clients. Seriously. So simple it’s stupid. Yet it’s true.

5. Make an Introduction

The Law of Reciprocity is all about give and get. A powerful way to engage a buyer and move the sales process forward is to give, give, and give. Don’t worry about getting.

When you see an opportunity to help this buyer – even though they aren’t a paying client – grab the chance and run with it.

One way to do this is to introduce the buyer to someone that could be of benefit to them. If they are hiring, introduce them to someone that could be a great fit. If they have a legal issue offer to connect them with a great lawyer you know. You get the idea right?

This generosity doesn’t go without notice. You may not see the BENEFIT from it right away though it sure will come.

Those are five effective strategies to follow up. BUT there’s a secret strategy that is more powerful than all the rest…

Secret Strategy

The best way to make the result of follow up effective is in fact to reduce the need for follow up. I know, that sounds a bit confusing. But read it again. You’ll get it…

Not needing to follow up is the most effective strategy. Because it gets the result you want right away.

So how do you do this?

Here’s the trick:

Before you end your meeting or phone call with the buyer agree to the next meeting or call (ideally a meeting). The most effective sales people and consultants use this approach.

It gets you from initial call or meeting to agreement then proposal and finally sale much faster.

There’s no question how powerful follow up is. If you follow this approach I just shared with you you’ll have less follow up to do. And you’ll be able to have more meetings and sales as a result.

If you’d like to discuss how to improve your whole marketing process so that you can attract your ideal buyers consistently and improve your sales process request your free marketing strategy call with me. This is only for serious consultants ready to invest in growing their business and want to see BIG results.

What are your thoughts on follow up? Would you like more posts like this? Or never again? Let me know in the comments below. Thank you for reading!


15 thoughts on “5 Proven Follow Up Strategies for Consultants

  1. Trevor Rahill says:

    Michael, this is so spot on and has been my Achilles heel in the past. The stats you mention are pretty sobering for sure and really underpins the thought that follow up is one of the critical roads to success. If you get discouraged by lack of response to your first email then you need to rethink why you are in this business. Thanks again for the insights.

  2. Some great advice…especially for those like me that love the problem solving and execution but don’t look forward to the sales and marketing! Thanks Michael!

  3. Bill Doerr says:

    Michael, once again, you remind us that the little things are the big things people remember about us. Thank you.

    I’ve personally found the key to success with your well-made / taken points are: 1) have (and, use!) a relationship cultivation system — to know who / when / why / how / what ‘touches’ to do that cultivate a relationship, and 2) have an assistant to make sure I do the touches . . . I have good intentions but ADD (non-diagnosed but I’m pretty sure I am). So I have an assistant use my system to remind me to do the things the system requires. Having an assistant to ‘keep the ball moving’ isn’t about being lazy, it’s about remaining focused on the most productive activities I can do in the 24 hours a day we all have to do our thing. Great post! Thanks.

  4. Andrew Sparks says:

    On point mate. Great article.

  5. This is such a great post, Michael. Along with your suggestions in CS Group Coaching, this gives me a better mental focus toward what I’m trying to achieve with my clients. Some of the best clients that I’ve worked with, I’ve built and nurtured a trusting relationship. This early courting is part of that process. Thanks.

  6. Franca says:

    Great post!

  7. Hi Jim, I’ve seen variations of these numbers from several sources and in my own experience as well they are valid.

  8. Heather B. says:

    Where are you getting these stats? I’ve seen them all over LinkedIn, but, as Abraham Lincoln once said, “Be wary of taking stats from an internet meme as truth.” Have there been any actual studies done that reflect these numbers?

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