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We all have run into that old client that we are so pleased to see and hear their news – family, work, and other interests. You shake hands or give a warm hug, look at each other with a smile, and say, “It is so good to see you!” Then one of you says the fatal words: “Let’s do lunch.” This is equivalent to saying: “It was nice seeing you, have a good life.”
“Let’s do lunch” is just one symptom within a much larger problem: people’s inability to follow-up.
What causes us to become laissez-faire?
In contemplating this very important question, there are many possible answers: we do not have (make) time; we fear being rejected; we are not organized enough (Ignite Excellence’s socioValue Influencer™ Research states that much of society does not value the technical tools to help optimize their time); or we just forgot. Oops.
The danger is many may perceive this as an absence of common courtesy. The impact goes far beyond not being polite to someone; it affects our personal and corporate brands, not to mention the opportunities for future business. In times of change and economic uncertainty, your reputation is fundamental in forging your personal value with your clients and your company. You need to be top of mind when your prospect or client finally does need you.
So what should you do now to reengage clients?
It is highly effective to contact people when we do not need anything from them. Our goal is to provide them with something of value. This approach will ignite a very powerful concept when it comes to influence: reciprocity.
If we make this an individual, or better yet, a corporate philosophy to take the upper-hand and follow-up with clients, a reciprocal cycle is initiated, and you will drastically increase the chances of your clients returning your call and considering you for new business opportunities, if they were to arise.
Here are ten proactive tips to help you stay top of mind, as it is your responsibility to forge the relationship for the future.
- Call people when you say you are going to call.
- Acknowledge email within a day, maximum two, even if you can’t respond.
- Go to networking functions to reconnect, let people know that you and your firm are active in your clients’ industry and community.
- Call more than once. Do not just wait for the client to call you back. They may think you will eventually stop calling and go away. Demonstrate that they are important to you. Let them know when you will call back and make sure you do.
- Send your clients information that would be relevant to them. Something you heard, read or saw. For example: articles, news in their operating markets – this could be information on a new project, or insight into culture in a country where they have a project or insight on a new legislation. Personally address your message to your client so they will perceive this is information selected exclusively for them.
- Call a client to set-up a time for a conversation to find out what they are working on (face-to-face is the best, but not always possible). The more you know, the more you can keep your ear to the ground on information you can provide. You may even uncover an opportunity for your firm.
- Provide your client and/or your network with business leads.
- If you do have a conversation and it requires a follow-up, send an email summation of the conversation and the date you will follow-up. Make sure you then follow-up on the specified date.
- Ask permission to keep in touch. “Can I call you in a couple months to see how things are progressing?” or “When should I touch base with you?” Once you have permission, you can follow-up when you call with “As you suggested, I am follow-up with you…” Again make the message compelling. Offer them the opportunity to receive some insight.
- Do not cancel once a commitment is made – or at least do not do it more than once.
It is never too late to start being proactive. Outreach to clients is not only the job of the Marketer, but also Project Managers, Consultant, Sales person and anyone who interacts with clients and stakeholders. Remember, when you make contact it is always wise to ensure there is something is in it for the recipient – this will increase your chances of a call back.
Now, if you do run into a client and you say, “Let’s do lunch,” they just might offer to buy!
Action: Which clients or prospects have you not contacted in more then six months? Commit to contacting two. You may be surprised, they may have been expecting your call.
Suzanne F Stevens, is the Chief Edge Optimizer of the Ignite Excellence Inc. Group of Initiatives. As Keynote Speaker, Trainer, Coach, Host and Philanthropist, she inspires, develops and invests in people to push their edge to personal and professional potential from backpack, to briefcase to boardroom. As a trainer, Suzanne’s influential business communication training arms individuals and organizations to influence, differentiate and engage more people and more business. Visit igniteU – online influence university. Self-paced business training for career growth!
Visit our other Ignite Excellence Group of initiatives’ websites with corresponding blogs.
Suzanne F Stevens – Profiling women leaders who have pushed their edge to personal or professional potential from backpack to briefcase to boardroom
igniteU – Online influence university. Self-paced learning to develop your business skills for your business success.
Ignite Excellence Foundation – Leadership, Advocacy, Education – following donations to scholarships for women in developing countries
Wisdom Exchange TV – A forum where women will be inspired from the achievements of African women in business, education, philanthropy and politics.
You Me & We – a husbands and wife’s journey through Africa in 2011/12
Ignite Excellence Inc. – Influence, Differentiate, Engage more people and more business – a training & development company