We all want more clients or to increase our offering to existing clients.

Being in contact with our list and top of mind for potential customers by use of email marketing etc is one way. Another important element is to follow up.

When to follow up

You may be asked a question, someone may identify their struggles or you may receive an introduction to a third party who needs your help. Not following up on these opportunities is sacrilege and you must know that there will always be someone else around the corner ready to pick it up and win the business if you don’t.

After a meeting or conversation it is polite to follow up with a thank you, perhaps a suggestion of a more in-depth conversation, or 121, or to provide the details or answers to questions that arose when you met. A timely follow up is also critical – don’t leave it until too much time as lapsed before getting in touch.

How to follow up

I always say a ‘No’ is not ‘No forever’ but just a ‘Not yet’; so it is important to still be around when the time is right for that potential customer and following up is part of that.

Have a list of potential customers (those that you feel are really close to making a decision or someone who you want to work with) and it may be possible to send them information, introductions or links that would help with their decision or struggle on an ongoing basis – even have a separate list for those ‘special’ contacts.

When to stop

How long do you follow up – does it feel like you are harassing them? It’s a difficult decision but let the prospect answer it for you – ask them if it would be OK to follow up in a week/fortnight/month or just add to your list. Let them see that you are wanting to stay in touch but happy for them to take the lead. I spoke to a colleague of mine recently who said that they follow up just twice – after that it is up to them to get back to them. For their service (printing) they get many enquiries for yourself as a VA it may only amount to one a week or similar; so a different approach is necessary.

Building your list

Adding individuals to your list is a great way to both build your list and keep in touch but beware it is important to get their agreement. So when you receive their business card do ask if you can add them to your list. In addition make sure the information being shared is useful, has value and is the type of information your prospects want to hear about.

I am a great believer in following up – it is the opportunity for you to find out if in fact you want to work with them. They may be great to talk to but fail to answer emails – would that be a good relationship if they were a client? However you may find that their preferred communication is the telephone so if you periodically ring them it may be what changes their mind about working with you.

Setting a Process

Do you have a set process for following up from meetings, networking, 121s etc – this is one way of ensuring they get the best from you in a set time frame that promotes an optimum working relationship. Find out how they work before you realise it does not suit you.