September 25, 2015
We consider ourselves follow-up experts. Granted, sometimes these follow-ups are delayed, or they may not contain all of the right words -- but we're human.
We've written about how to write an effective follow-up email, generated templates for the best follow-ups, and what to do after a follow-up. Although these have been for a much broader audience and for best practices, we understand that advice isn't a one-size fits all sort of thing.
In a consultants' world a follow-up is essential in making sure guidelines for a project are correct, staying top of mind, and getting referrals into new clients. Following up is also a must for existing and past clients, it expands your network and cultivates the one you have currently.
With the influx of even more places to communicate, how should a consultant follow-up with clients? Knowing the right time, place, and how is extremely important. We'll dive into the best practices on how to follow-up with clients.
You were hired to work on this project because of your insights and guidance as an expert in your respective field. However, sometimes clients may slip through the cracks, or your own communications to them may fall to the wayside. This is your perfect opportunity to reengage with your clients to make sure you are following up with what they needed you to do in the first place.
A consistent follow-up, check-in, and quarterly report will help identify if you are heading in the right direction to success for your clients. Now is not the time to be unresponsive and a lone wolf, make sure you communicate with your clients to ensure the project is on a roll.
As much as I stay ahead of industry news and any tidbits that may make my job more successful, as I am working day-to-day gaining insight on these happenings become increasingly difficult...as I'm in the weeds with marketing.
However, this is another best practice to follow-up with a client. I know I'm not the only one in this boat and if you followed up with me with some industry insights or even pieces of data that I may have missed in any platforms I use, I would immediately respond to the follow-up.
Adding in pieces of insight into your follow-ups add a lot of value to the conversation to elicit a response and add even more value to the relationship you have with your clients.
About a month ago I overhead a sales rep talk about how a Realtor he was working with wanted to set up a Contactually program that would last about 7 years. Although this seems a little extreme, the reasoning made sense. The Realtor wanted to follow-up at 7 years because that's when people look to buy new houses.
This same 7 year cadence won't work for consultants, but the concept will. Recognizing certain milestones for a previous client can go miles. Did they raise money for their company? Were they featured in a huge publication? Did they release a new product? Or is it their company's anniversary? Identify these milestones and celebrate them. Maybe, they don't need your services now, but when they do and you'll be top of mind.
Reminders can come across as nagging, so how do you make it so you aren't annoying? Add some context, give a little explanation why you are remind a client of a deadline or something you need. It will help keep expectations aligned and ensure things don't fall through the cracks.
Remembering those tasks may be even difficult for you, so setting up some type of automation to remind yourself of these things will be important to your consultancy.
You found out about this set of potential clients through a referral or through an inbound source, but now is not the time to stop the communication flow. You need to dive in to start the relationship. What problems do they have? Why did they reach out to you? What can you help solve?
Getting to know your clients and what their ultimate goals are will take some time. Although, we understand that business doesn't have all the time in the world, but you do need to establish some sort of relationship with them in order to even start to have success.
Ask where they see their business in the next year and the next 5 years. Dive into why they started their business in the first place. Ask them questions on where they see their business strengths and ask about improvements. All of these topics can establish a connection with your clients and set a standard of trust.
Getting to know your new clients can help make the approach of getting referrals even easier. Your clients will know you and they will know they you know them, if it's a positive impression they'll more likely talk about you with others and before you know you, you'll have those referrals.
Being able to stay in touch with multiple clients who are all at different stages is hard, but it's not something you should forget or pass up because it's a challenge. Following up with clients is essential to the overall success of your business and will bring in even more future clients than you expect it would.