You mark off the entire day to spend prospecting at the biggest local trade show of the year. Maybe you’re a vendor, maybe you’re a spectator. Either way you hope to come back to the office with a fistful of solid leads promising a good return on the investment of your time and materials for the day. Typically when you walk into a big event the adrenaline starts pumping and it feels like you’re about to win the lottery, doesn’t it? The bright lights and expansive layout and the massive buzz of people bouncing about like goldfish in a bowl somewhat misleads you into believing that picking up new business is going to be as easy as shooting fish in a barrel.
And now, a week or two later, here you have that pocket full of glimmering hope, those business cards neatly stacked on your desk, looking like money in the bank. Perhaps they are bound by a single, lonely rubber band that somehow knows it will never be undone. Perhaps you shuffle and stack them while on the phone, wondering what to do with them. It’s going to be up to you to find or develop a system that converts prospects to clients and customers, or, one that at least does a good job of sorting them out. I’m going to give you some statistics below and then present a simple yet powerful and effective follow-up system that you can use no matter what business you are in. The first and last thing to remember is this:
THE FORTUNE IS IN THE FOLLOW UP!
(And Don’t Let Anyone Tell You Any Different!)
80% OF SALES ARE MADE ON THE 5th THROUGH 12th CONTACT!
Can You Find Yourself In These Statistics?
The best way to maximize your return on investment of time spent at any networking event is to create a simple and track-able Follow Up System. This system is typically part of a Sales Funnel, which is a systematic approach to selling a product or service. (Google “Sales Funnel” for more info on that–you might like what you find.) The system will be looking at today is based on building a relationship and creating trust by making and fulfilling a series of small promises, while reaching out (touching) your prospects a few times in an orderly fashion. At the end of the series you’ll know what they need, what they’re looking for, and they’ll know a bit about you as well.
Remember, you’ll sell a lot more of whatever it is you’re selling to the people that your prospects and business network connections know than you will ever sell directly to them. So this is all about building a network, creating trusted relationships, and giving and getting lots of referrals over a long period of time.
All you need is a simple system. You can use a spreadsheet like Excel to track it, or even a paper notebook. The point is to do it!
Sample Follow Up Funnel
Adjust this to your needs. Note that this is only the follow up mechanism. At each step you will be working your sales process to set appointments, or send proposals or quotes, and close deals. This part just keeps you in front of people. First I will go through a more detailed explanation and then present an example follow-up bulleted list.
Immediately after the event enter all business card info into your contact management system or e-mail program. Within a few days of the event send an email. The best days to send are Tuesday and Wednesday. You don’t really want to e-mail on a Friday or Monday as people tend to be busy either wrapping up their weak or getting it started, respectively. Send a light email greeting, subject line can be “Nice to see you at the <tradeshow/event name>” or, “Hello from Eric at Core Zero Creative”. In the email be sure to ask for more information from them about what they do, what kind of referrals they’re looking for, and be sure to use the phrase “How Can I Help You?”
Finally, promise to send another message within a specific amount of time containing something of value, preferably a resource that you already have prepared, or at least promise to send them some information about you and your company. The point is to make small promise and then keep it. It’s very subtle, yet very powerful. People learn that they can depend on you, that you’re going to do what you say you’re going to do.
Based on the promise you made in your first e-mail follow-up accordingly. If you promised to call, then call though I would leave that for the third step. Send whatever it is you said you would send. See my sample follow up system below for an example.
If your event is on a Monday or Tuesday then send out your first e-mail on Wednesday or Thursday. If the event is later in the week then send the first e-mail out on Tuesday or Wednesday of the following week. I would then follow up, fulfilling the first promise on the following Monday or Tuesday. In this second e-mail I like to promise to call the person. I will then mark off the entire next week to make calls to everyone on my follow-up list. You’ll get some on the phone and you will end up leaving messages for many others. Either way you win because you did what you said you would do.
From here forward you can continue to make dials to connect with those who have not answered or returned your calls yet. And you can also move onto the next step in your sequence, sending another item of value or information about you or your company as promised. As you get people on the phone you can open the conversation with, “Did you get the e-mail that I sent?” and take it from there.
You’ll want to plan out 5 to 10 touches over the length of this sequence. You can spread them out further and further. I’m sure you can imagine what it would be like to get five e-mails and five phone calls from someone within 10 or 20 days. Forget that! You can create a short sequence or a long sequence but either way the spacing will move from days to weeks to months between contact rather quickly. You will be amazed at the amount of business you close by keeping in contact with someone for a period of 3 to 12 months, and doing it without being annoying. On the flip side of this, depending upon the amount of contacts you reach per month at networking events, sometimes a short sweet series which shares, communicates, qualifies, and then moves on is just what you need.
Detailed Sample System
Try to send emails on Tue/Wed/Thu.
From here on out you can add people to a long-term nurture list or monthly newsletter list, and continue to develop specific relationships that have shown or are showing opportunity.
The primary purpose of this blog post today is to make you aware of the power and value of a staged, pre-planned, and properly executed follow up system. Without a follow-up system you really have nothing going at all. You might as well plan on going to the trade show to schmooze, sample the food, and bring home a big bag of schwag, and not even bother to collect business cards. Don’t be discouraged. It’s never too late to follow up.
Feel free to comment or call or email me to let me know what you think of this. I’ll be writing another post soon detailing some of the follow-up software tools that I use in this process. In the meantime feel free to connect with me on social media. Hit me up on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/EricScottBryant.
To Your Success !