June 19, 2012
“Just checking to see if you’re ready to buy yet”
I recently made this point during a keynote talk at an advisor conference. Later that day I got an email from an advisor in the room, putting his finger on why the “just calling to check in approach” risks positioning you as a pest, in the prospects’ mind as well as yours.
Here’s how he started his email.
“I worked for Xerox many years ago where we made many, many calls on potential customers.
I quickly realized that busy people running successful businesses... the ones we want to connect with... hate the calls that begin "...Just calling to touch base/see how you are doing/ask if you are ready to sign up the paperwork yet? If you are not bringing value to a prospect you are wasting his time. Therefore it was my goal to always have something of value to share with them.
In the copier business it was some feature he might have missed and a new way I had thought their firm could take advantage of the capabilities. As an advisor, it was some fact about a company in his industry, or something I knew they were following or maybe currency changes if I knew he does cross border business.”
Step one – Foundation follow-up
In fact, the best follow-up happens in two stages. First comes low-key follow up that precedes and lays the foundation for a direct follow-up call. Then comes direct follow up – the call itself that this advisor focused on. What they have in common is that they both require permission from the prospect. In fact, if someone hasn’t given you permission to communicate with them, if all they are is a name in a directory or a casual acquaintance with whom you’ve never discussed financial issues, they aren’t a prospect, they’re a suspect.
Lower key foundation follow up keeps you top-of-mind, builds credibility and demonstrates value. The best form of that follow up is to share with prospects the communication that goes to your clients. Here’s what a conversation to get a prospect’s permission to send them that communication might sound like:
“Given turbulent markets of the past few years, once a quarter I invite clients to a breakfast to discuss recent events. As well, I send clients a twice monthly email where I select one or two articles from my ongoing research. I’ve had a great response to these breakfasts and the articles. With your permission, I’d like to add you to the distribution list for the articles and the invitation list for the breakfasts.”
Most prospects will agree fairly readily. For some, it’s a low-cost commitment on their part that holds the promise of value. For others, it’s simply the route of least resistance to simply say “yes”. You can’t expect prospects who receive this low key follow up to act on it – and in fact any direct action arising from this is a bonus. Low key follow up is designed to prime the pump, to lay a foundation of awareness and credibility for when you do call with direct follow-up.
This presupposes that you’re sending material worth sharing with prospects. If you’re not doing this, then now is the time to consider implementing ongoing communication, to ensure clients feel that you’re on top of markets.
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