We tell our clients a lot about us and our business when and how we follow up! Do you send messages, emails, notes to potential clients? Do you send notes after discovery calls or even weekly meetings?
Responding to RFPs
Ever submit a response to an RFP and never hear from the client again? Not a “we received your submission,” not a “we went with another candidate,” just nothing? How does that make you feel? As business owners, we typically just dismiss it, but sometimes it’s a client we were really interested in, and we are just disappointed.
Sometimes our clients are just busy and easily overwhelmed. They have 30-300 responses, and they are just lost in what to do. Did you know that a nice follow-up message might be what sets your submission apart from everyone else? A simple note that references their post and your response might just put you front of mind.
When you respond to RFPs, give them something to respond to. Don’t just say, “Here is a link to my calendar so we can talk.” You literally just gave an overwhelmed person who is seeking help, something else to do. Make sure that in your message, you respond to their needs listed in the initial RFP. Do some homework on them, if you can — search their website, review their social media — and respond ready to partner with them.
Have you gone to a networking event and walked out with a handful of cards and you want to follow-up? **Pro-Tip: getting a business card is not permission to add them to your email list or solicit them. I personally don’t seek to get the business cards of everyone in the room. When I used to do this, I usually just ended up throwing them with the pile from the last event. Now, I go in with a plan to meet and connect with five people. I follow up with them within 48 hours and reference the conversation we had. If for any reason it takes longer than 48 hours, I might still reach out, but recognize I may have missed my window. In my follow-up, I typically suggest a time and place for our next meeting – even if it’s just coffee. I also let them know what I want to talk to them about. Things like:
- Mutual Referrals (this is great for CPAs, tax preparers, etc.)
- Interested in their Business
- Expressed interest in my business
After the Discovery Call
Unless you are not interested in the client, how you follow up after the discovery call is critical. I respond within 24 hours with a detailed list of the most important takeaways from our call, and what the next steps would be. <<—- The next steps are CRITICAL. This is where you set the tone for the nature of the relationship. Be clear about what happens, how it happens, and the time frame it should occur. I don’t do proposals, but if you do, this might be step one. We can talk about my discovery calls later.
Not following up, is like leaving money on the table. You are telling your potential (and sometimes existing) clients that you are too busy to be concerned about them. Make time to let them know you were present and interested in doing more business.
Here are few tips to make your follow up process easier:
- Don’t schedule meetings back to back whenever possible. Leave time to gather your thoughts and write notes about your interaction.
- Don’t skip the follow-up. EVER.
- Set aside time for follow-up. I do my own “Follow-Up Friday.” I send email, snail mail, text – whatever method they like to communicate in – to every client and potential client I spoke with in a week. I never leave them hanging about where we are, what we talked about, or what happens next.
Dionne Thomas is IVAA’s Membership Director and Founder of The Zeva Group.
Learn more about Dionne at zevagroup.com.