A Bird in Hand is Worth Two in the Bush

John Geiger

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One of the most amazing things about the power of the internet is its uncanny ability to bring potential customers to you out of seemingly nowhere. Although this sounds like a dream come true for those always hunting new prospective customers, it can present its own challenges; namely follow-up.

When a customer walks into your shop you get a visual on them immediately. You can see their dress, their posture, body language, and outward style. When they call on the telephone, you have a “voice-print” to include speech pattern, vocabulary, intonation, and so on. All of these things help your mind remember a person and create data that helps you with any necessary follow up to what it is they were there for; whether a transaction was completed or not.

When a lead comes from the internet, there are very few such helpers, so it is important to set the stage for service and responsiveness as efficiently as possible. The following tips are provided by an on-line marketing company named Knowledgestorm who aggregates internet searching; matching up needs and service offerings. They provide pertinent tips and suggestions for making the best use of lead information and the ideas below highlight some of the most important aspects of capturing the best results.

Timely response is probably the most easily overlooked responsibility when it comes to lead follow-up. Fully 88% of surveyed internet searchers reported being happy with a response sometime within the same day. Of course that means 12% want more immediate responsiveness, but this gives you a good baseline to measure from. Being able to reach the searcher for information or product by you is by far greatest within 24-72 hours with 35% of our follow-up messages being returned on average on the same day, dropping to 25% between 1-3 days and all the way down to 5% by day 7, so it pays to be timely.

Do some homework ahead of your call if at all possible:

1. Google their company and/or the individual; find out what business they are in, what they do day to day.

2. Go to their website and learn as much as you can about their business. Think of which or your products/services might be appropriate to recommend.

3. Try to find the person who made the contact to you within their website and try to build an organizational chart around them so you know where they fit.

When you do manage to contact them by phone, keep the following points in mind for greatest effectiveness:

1. Thank them for researching your product/service. Ask them if this is a good time to answer their questions or would they prefer to schedule a time that is more convenient.

2. Ask them if they found everything they were looking for.

3. Ask if there is any additional information you could provide to them. Briefly explain your capabilities you think appropriate to their needs. Expect objections. You are now most likely interrupting some other activity on their part. Remind them that they were looking for something and that you are an expert that can help them right now which will save them time.

4. Ask if there is a current project or specific need that prompted their search.

5. What other solutions have they searched.

6. Do they have a budget and timeline in place? What role do they have in the decision process.

Don’t forget to ask for and record any updated contact information whether it be a better phone number, e-mail address, or even a colleague you ended up speaking with and closing the activity. Ask for others that may have an interest or need for your services. Many times you can get two or more birds in hand, or at least the bush just by asking.

Follow up doesn’t end with the sale but continues for the life of the relationship (which can depend on your level of ongoing follow-up). More on that next month.

Following these general guidelines can maximize the effectiveness of leads generated via the internet, e-mail inquiries and even phone messages. Happy follow-up!

John Geiger owns and operates an affiliate of WSI Internet Consulting and Education, a global network of consultants, developers and production centers providing consultation as well as turn-key internet business solutions for small and medium-sized enterprises to include web-site development and hosting; internet and e-mail marketing, e-commerce, distance learning, and more.



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