Every organization needs to grow to stay in business. Growth is achieved by touching existing customers and growing accounts as well as developing new business. In each case, the account management and sales management teams need to ensure that they do their follow up. Whether you work on the operations side and take care of existing clients or on the business development/sales side and work to obtain new clients; the fortune is in the follow up.
Make sure your teams are focused on understanding the whole picture, not just their portion. I am a visual person and have always trained my teams by going to the white board and drawing a wheel. On the wheel are the “steps” in the process from the first touch with a prospective client, through the sales process, the new client on boarding, the daily operations, and the account growth. This insight will allow your teams to work together and take ownership in the end goal.
Ensure people have a process and a system to establish, follow and track the steps in the follow up. Identify your processes and continue to improve your efficiency. You will notice that your close ratio will increase. You don’t need to spend a lot of money on a system, you can use Outlook to get you started, or you can invest in ACT, SalesForce, or Highrise (all examples of CRM’s that I have used and had good results).
OK, time for a story…..
I attended a networking function and met 10 new people. I collected 10 business cards and made notes on the back of the cards. When I returned to the office I entered all 10 prospects into my system and sent a hand written card. I set a “follow up” reminder in the system after one week. Out of the 10 new people I met, I really needed to meet with one. When I called to follow up, I got voicemail; and I kept following up until I saw this person at another function… three months later. This person said, “I am so impressed with your follow up to meet with me, can I take you to lunch after this event?” During lunch we got to know each other, agreed on next steps and we eventually teamed on an opportunity and won the business.
So, to set yourself apart from the competition, incorporate follow up into your processes. If you get a customer complaint, follow up after it’s been resolved to ask if everything is OK. If you are prospecting or networking to develop new business, follow up with the person to go to the next step in the sales process. In every aspect of your business, operations and sales, the fortune is in the follow up!!