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July 13, 2018

Customer Follow-up: The Secret Weapon in Sales

Customer follow-up is the real key to getting exceptional results when it comes to your company's sales, but only if you leverage this weapon correctly. Sales of any product or service are complicated, and following up with your customers and potential customers can be even more difficult. However, merely marketing your product or service without direct customer contact is not enough to close the deal and to then get the repeated, long-term business every company needs.

If you're ready to learn the most effective customer follow-up tips and tools that will help close the deal, and which will convert new customers to longtime, faithful followers of your product or service, consider six critical points about this process. These tips will show you how to use customer follow-up to increase sales and improve your overall bottom line, no matter your product or industry.

Best Ways to Follow Up With Customers

You may already be convinced that customer follow-up is necessary for successful sales, but how do you call back on your buyers or potential buyers without making a nuisance of yourself? Consider a few positive, proactive ways you can contact customers and anyone else who has shown an interest in your product or service and generate more attention for your product or service, without actually turning them off to you and your company in the process.

1. Invite customers to an event

Hosting an event is an excellent form of customer follow-up, as it allows you to advertise your product or service in a very relaxed and non-confrontational way! You can also use an event to get to know your customers or potential customers personally, so you can discern how to keep following up with them, or determine what new products and services they might appreciate and might purchase from you.

Simple but effective events for customer follow-up include an open house with a tour of your facility or demonstration of your work, a workshop that offers some practical and useful advice for your customers, a trade show where your business will have a booth or display, or product launch and demonstration. Keep an event simple, so it's affordable, and so you can repeat it often throughout the year, but make it something special; hand out free samples or a custom product of some sort, and be sure to provide coffee and water and even a few light refreshments as well!

2. Follow up after an event

Even if potential customers did not attend an event you've hosted, you could use this opportunity to follow up with them, as well as with those who did attend. Create a small newsletter or flyer with pictures of the event, some highlights of a workshop or product launch, and of your team or staff.

These flyers or a newsletter can include the note, "If you missed this year's (product launch, open house), we sure hope to see you next time!" This statement will encourage your potential customers to stay on your invite list and to attend your next event, once they see how much fun everyone had!

3. Send an actual postcard

Many people will have spam filters for their email, but a postcard is more difficult to overlook! Even if a customer or potential customer decides to toss out your note, they still need to look at it to determine if it's junk mail. In turn, your company name, website, product, and other such information can be imprinted in their memory, whether or not they keep your postcard.

To make postcards successful, use a template or even hire a graphic designer to create the design of this postcard for you. This will ensure your slogan or tagline, your business name, your website, and other such relevant information stands out and gets the message across.

4. Provide a free service

After you've sold a customer a product or service, you might offer an inspection of your work or the product in action. For home repair services or products like new appliances, you might provide an energy audit, a check for water or other types of leaks, a check to ensure it's working correctly, and so on.

This type of service doesn't need to be extensive, as it's your chance to touch base with your customer again, so you can start a dialogue about additional products or services they might need. This time is also your chance to address any issues the customer has with your work or with a product you've sold; if you address these issues quickly and courteously, a customer may be less likely to go to a competitor the next time they need something similar.

5. Remember the holidays

The holidays are a great reason to follow up with your customers and potential customers. Your business should always send out Christmas cards, and you can do the same for New Year's Day, Easter, Independence Day, and so on.

It's also good to run specials around the holidays and advertise this when you send out cards or greetings, as this will ensure customers take a closer look at the cards themselves! Tell customers that you're contacting them to let them know about your "Easter Spring Clean Special for Home or Office," or your "New Year's Roof Inspection and Annual Repair Discount."

Your Follow-up Sales Call Script

A follow-up call to customers can be an excellent tool for creating sales, but only if you know what to say! The secret to successful customer follow-up through a sales call, or any similar contact, is to stress how a particular product or service benefits them, and why they should invest in the cost of this product or service. What you're offering your customers should solve a problem, increase the value of their property, improve a product they already own, and so on.

Consider a quick example of a sales call script, and note how this script emphasizes the benefit of a company's service:

"Hello, it's (name) at (company name), and I noticed a recent listing about your building that boasted of your authentic plaster walls and fresco ceiling. It can be difficult and time-consuming to repair even the smallest crack in that plaster, but ignoring tiny bulges and chips can mean allowing that crack to grow, and this can also lead a collapsed ceiling!

Our company is the area's leader in authentic plaster repair for pre-war buildings such as yours, and we have over 50 years of experience in fixing the most beautiful and most delicate plaster, and in patching tiny cracks as well as bulging plaster ceilings. We can even add plaster detailing to your ceilings and walls, so your building retains its authentic European look. This work ensures your structure keeps its overall value and makes it look more inviting and attractive to your visitors."

Note a few points to take away from this script:

  1. It's immediately established why this customer wants this product; in this case, they have a building with plaster that may be suffering cracks and other damage.
  2. This service will solve a problem for this customer, namely, the time it takes to repair plaster on their own, and the risk of having damaged plaster walls and ceilings.
  3. The script notes why this company is superior to others, in that they have decades of experience and can manage small repairs as well as more involved fixes.
  4. The script also suggests additional services that can be added to a customer's existing product, namely, the detailing on a ceiling or wall that enhances their European look.
  5. The end of the script emphasizes the benefit to the customer that their building will look its best, retain its value, and be more inviting to customers and clients.

It can be good to finish up your call with a special offer that entices the potential customer to follow through. For example, you might say that you're authorized to offer them a 10% discount on their initial service, or that they are eligible to get an additional free product or service if they purchase another product or service that day.

Sales Follow-up Process

It's never good to leave customer follow-up to chance. Instead, consider an active process you might follow, to ensure you don't overlook any opportunity you have for communicating with your customers, and for converting potential customers to long-term, faithful followers of your company!

• Give your customers a way to follow-up with you right after each sale. This method might be something as simple as a business card you leave with their paperwork, with a handwritten note that says "Call us when you're ready for an upgrade!" It might include a customer satisfaction survey or a page on your website that is for customer reviews or which answers common questions customers have right after purchasing your product or service.
• Your customers might increase your business for you, but only if you make it easy for them to refer your company to others. This method, too, can mean a business card enclosed with sales paperwork that says, "Please share with friends and family!", alternatively, it might include a type of discount or special offer for referrals that lead to sales.
• Encourage your customers to become repeat buyers or long-term customers by sending them coupons or special offers after a sale; make sure these coupons are for deals that they won't get anywhere else!
• Choose a time shortly after a sale to make a follow-up call, even within the first week; this is called the "honeymoon phase," and it's when customers are often the most excited about their new product or the service you provided. Ask your customer how something they purchased is working for them, and if they have any questions or issues requiring assistance. Close the call by encouraging them to return to your store or website, or by asking if they would like to hear about other services you offer.

Remember that each of these is an essential step in this process; you enclose business cards or notes with a purchase receipt, enclose coupons they might use soon after their purchase, and make a follow-up call within a week of your initial sale. Your follow-up is then spread out over the course of several days so that customers are always reminded of your company, but without you becoming a nuisance to them right after you close your initial sale.

Follow-up Tracking System

Along with creating a compelling customer follow-up process, you also want to consider an actual tracking system; this system will, of course, note all pertinent information about your customers, as well as information about the products or services they've purchased. However, it should also include details such as the additional products or services they might need, and a schedule that will help you to spread out your calls, so they're not bombarded with contact from you right after a sale.

Note a few other tips for making your tracking system as effective as possible:

  1. •Your system should include information about what products or services you've already pitched to customers, and why they may not ever be interested. For example, someone living in a condo may need leaks around their interior windows repaired, but may never need to have holes in the roof fixed, since this is often the responsibility of the condo board. By noting what products or services are unnecessary for customers, you won't waste your time or resources trying to sell them on those items.
  2. A follow-up system should note if you need to contact your customers at specific intervals. For example, you can send out postcards or flyers after they have had a product for a certain amount of time, and ask if they're ready for an upgrade or something new. If you perform a service, such as cleaning, home repair, or concrete pouring, your follow-up system should note when the customer should be ready for this service again, or for regular maintenance work on the original product or service, so you don't miss out on the opportunity to contact customers when this service is needed.
  3. Services you offer might be cyclical or seasonal; for instance, many residential cleaning customers might appreciate a thorough spring cleaning or homeowners with a new roof might need a roof checked for damage after a rainy season in your area. Your follow-up system should note when you need to start contacting customers, so you don't miss your opportunity within that cycle or timeframe.

A customer follow-up tracking system should also include space for noting information about customers that you harvest with each call or contact. For example, they may indicate that they've had certain expenses this year, but next year they might be interested in your services. Your follow-up system should be able to flag that information, so you're sure to call them next year when they are ready to make a purchase or to hire you!

5 Creative Follow-up Ideas!

While many customer follow-up ideas are classic because they work so well to get the attention of customers, you might also consider some creative ideas that will catch the eyes of even the most jaded customer on your call sheet!

  1. Use a fun or downright silly product that ties into your sales pitch. For example, if you sell pest control services, send your customers a rubber spider in a bag with a sticker that says, "A rubber spider is fun, but real spiders should never be welcome in your home!" A roofing repairperson might send a Frisbee emblazoned with the note, "Your lost Frisbees won't cover gaping holes and missing shingles on your roof, so let us toss you some ideas about how to protect your home during the upcoming stormy seasons."
  2. You can also use fun products that aren't necessarily tied to your sales pitch, but that encourage customers to contact you. For example, you might send them a golf pencil in a card that says, "We assume you never got back to us about (product or service name) because you didn't have a pencil, so here's one on us. Hope to hear from you soon!" Be sure that pencil has your company name and website or phone number so that they can contact you anytime in the future.
  3. Use statistics to compel customers to contact you. For example, a locksmith service might send customers a card with a number on the front, and inside, it might read, "That's how many break-ins were reported in the (local area) last year alone. Call us for a free home security inspection and quote on lock rekeying and upgrading." A pest control service can do the same; use a number on the front of a card or postcard, and then explain on the back or inside that this is the number of diseases that can be carried by cockroaches in the home!
  4. If you don't want to use a statistic that might frighten or upset someone, use a number that represents your business; for example, you might have a number on the outside of your card, and the inside might read, "That's how many customer calls we made last year. Why should they be the only ones to enjoy the benefits of (your service or product)?" You could also use an encouraging statistic; your card might read, "48%" on the outside, and then the inside might say, "That's the average reduction of a homeowner's energy bills when they go solar!"
  5. You might also start a social media trend by using a unique hashtag that relates to your business. For example, if you offer pest control services, note some interesting facts about pests in the home, such as how rodents like to burrow into insulation to make nests. Then, use a silly hashtag that gets other people involved with their own stories of pests in the home, such as #thatswheniknewmyhousehadmice or #grosshomepeststories.

Customer Satisfaction Survey Follow-up

One of the best methods of customer follow-up is a survey your customers can fill out and send back. This survey can be an actual postcard that they physically mail, or it can include an online survey. If you choose something that a customer physically mails, be sure you have it pre-stamped, as customers are unlikely to use their stamps to send a survey back to you!

To ensure that customers use this survey, you might give them an incentive. This incentive can be a coupon for a percent off the next purchase for those who return your questions, or you might include all survey participants in a raffle or drawing for a particular discount or other such prizes.

Remember that a survey is a tool for you to learn how to improve your business, so be sure you include questions about your product or service and how it benefitted customers, or how it can be improved. You can also add questions about the sales process; ask if your salespersons are helpful and knowledgeable if your website is helpful and easy to navigate, and so on.

Any form of customer follow-up should also be used as a means of increasing your sales, so be sure your survey includes some punchy final paragraph. This wording can be something like, "Be sure to visit our website when you're ready to upgrade to a new metal roof that can cut your home energy bills by 30%." Another suggestion might be, "Remember that we offer a full line of plaster repair products and services, so don't hesitate to call or contact us when you need new plaster ceilings or wall repair for any room of your home."

If you follow these sales tips and are still not getting enough new business out of your existing leads, remember that LeadsForward works with the area's best home improvement businesses to keep their leads flowing, while putting pressure on those businesses to up their sales game and keep their customer follow-up fresh and sharp! After all, we only get paid on leads that become customers, so be sure to call us when you're ready to improve your overall bottom line with lead generation services that work for you, no matter your service or industry.

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