The Art of Inquiry Follow-Up

When you receive an inquiry, popular thought would suggest that the more rapidly you respond and the more information you send to that hot prospect the greater your chance of landing the business.

By satisfying that person's need for information quickly, you demonstrate your interest in earning his business and also give an example of how terrific your firm is at providing customer service.

But once you deliver all that information, what are you going to do next? How are you going to follow up?

The truth is most marketers don't follow up. Once the initial information is sent, the communication ends. When, in reality, it is at this point the relationship building should begin.

When you don't follow up with additional information, you are letting valuable customers slip from your grasp. These are customers that may have been very interested in your product or service but simply lost your information or were too busy when your first information packet arrived. Some customers even purposely wait to see if you find them important enough to follow up with. When they don't receive a follow-up message, they take their business elsewhere.

Try this. Split your fulfillment package into a variety of bite-size chunks. Doing so allows you to stay in contact with your prospect and continue to develop and nurture the relationship. It also improves the likelihood of getting the sale.

Follow-up is more than just a process; it's an art. To do it effectively, you need a system and then you need to stick to that system. If you don't follow up with prospects consistently and in a timely fashion regarding their individual information request, then you might as well forget the whole process.

Consistent follow-up gets results.

Individual follow-up at preset times with prewritten messages that gradually pull back the layers of what your company has to offer will dramatically increase your sales. Multiple follow-ups accustom the prospect to seeing your name. It keeps you top of mind and continues to communicate more about your company and how important the prospective customer is to you.

To set up this system, plan and prepare first.

First you'll need to develop your follow-up messages. If you've been marketing for any length of time, then you should already have an information letter or follow-up package. Your second letter (or first follow-up) should go into more detail than the first letter. Fill in with additional details where you didn't have space to do so in your first letter. Make sure you stress your product or service's benefits.

Your next two to three follow-up messages should be rather short and stress the benefits. Make lists of benefits and potential uses for your product or service. Develop the communications so your prospect can skim the copy and get the full force of your message.

For your last couple of follow-up messages, you should create a sense of urgency in your prospect's mind. Including a special offer gives the recipient a reason to act now instead of waiting longer. The key is creating urgency; you'll need to look at your product or service and see how you can make your prospect want to order immediately.

The timing of your follow-up communications is also important. You don't want to have one prospect receive a follow-up the next day when another prospect waited over three weeks for a follow-up. You should always send the first follow-up within 24 hours of the information request. You want hot prospects to have more information quickly so they can make an informed buying decision.

The next two to three follow-up messages should be sent on a schedule consistent with the buying cycle typically associated with your product or service. Some buying cycles take days; others take months. Be aware of your buying cycle and plan accordingly.

Finally, make sure each communication is consistent in tone and quality. Each contact should convey the image you want prospects to have of you, and each should provide valuable information to help your prospect make an intelligent buying decision and learn more about your company, products and services.

Take time to do it right, and you'll increase sales and develop more long-term customer relationships.

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