How to keep in touch with potential customers until they are ready to buy

by Sonja Jefferson on August 10, 2010

In his article ‘Why 8% of sales people get 80% of the sales’ marketing expert Robert Clay reminds us of the importance of good ‘follow up’. His research shows that only 2% of sales occur at the first meeting; the other 98% will only happen once a certain level of trust has been established.

Incredibly, only 20% of sales leads are ever followed up – that’s a shining pile of potential opportunity lost without a trace. You may be well aware of the power of keeping in contact but it’s often hard to know where to start. After that initial enquiry or sales meeting how exactly do you keep in touch? What information should you send? What tools can you employ to prove that yours is the solution that your prospects need?

Many companies get follow up badly wrong and lose the good will of potential customers in the process. Effective follow up does not mean pushy closing and constant demands for orders or appointments. It takes a different mindset: an ongoing dialogue; gently building rapport and proving your expertise, not bashing down doors.

At the heart of this approach is good content – meaningful, useful communication that helps to build trust in the eyes of your potential customers, keeping you top-of-mind.

Here are 5 examples of useful content you can use to keep in touch.

  • Articles: get your expert opinion and ideas down in writing - on the web, in magazines, on blogs (your company blog and/or other well-respected blogs in your field). Write for your customers: write articles that show them how to solve their business problems. Include these in regular newsletters or emails to keep in touch.
  • Newsletters/e-newsletters: inform and educate your contacts on a regular basis with valuable content – news, views, research and case studies that they’ll find of interest.
  • Educational case studies: show how other customers have benefitted from the type of approach you’re proposing. These powerful sales tools help you capitalise on past success. They turn your claims into evidence and open the reader’s eyes to what is possible if they work with your company.
  • Whitepapers: somewhere between an article and an academic paper, these persuasive documents contain useful information and expert opinion, promoting your company as a thought leader and helping solve customer issues.
  • Third party evidence: send your prospects articles and research by others that back up your proposed approach and lend weight to your argument.

This is where good marketing can really help sales. Develop customer-focused, helpful information that customers will find valuable. Your sales teams can use these to keep contact with potential customers until they are ready to buy. This is the most powerful way to build trust and warm up the relationship with your prospects: prove your worth and boost sales success.

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Sonja Jefferson

Sonja Jefferson is a consultant, writer and founder of Valuable Content. She helps good businesses to create and share great content so they win the business they deserve.

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August 10, 2010 at 12:10 pm
How to Follow-Up: The Art of Being Pleasantly Persistent | 321Launch!
January 5, 2013 at 10:40 am

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar B Ireland-Symonds August 10, 2010 at 12:35 pm

A succinct article with useful advice.

avatar LouiseBJ August 10, 2010 at 12:57 pm

Well said Sonja! Five great ways to keep in touch with prospective clients that will work for both small businesses and larger organisations. Best of all, most of them are very low or no cost … makes you wonder why more people don’t do them ;)

avatar Lee Duncan - The Double Your Business Coach August 10, 2010 at 1:05 pm

Hi Sonja,

Terrific post – I love your 5 examples of useful content. I’ve found that some of the very best lead-generating emails have been where the subject has a real-world case study. I’ve found that you can get a great response from a case study created from a short testimonial.

If the testimonial includes some key facts that were achieved then the credibility they generate is enormous and seems to be enough to tip people from browsing to buying.

One more thought too – I make a plan of the messages I’m going to send and write more or less according to the plan. It helps to keep me on track and keeps me from going off-track.

Lee

avatar sonja August 10, 2010 at 1:08 pm

Good point on message planning Lee. I read yours avidly and they always hit the mark. Thank you for the feedback Louise and Beverley – very kind.

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