This blog post was contributed by Emily Levy, an ActiveCampaign Certified Consultant.
Does this sound familiar?
The woman next to you on the plane hears you’re a business coach and says, “I need you to help me get more clients! Can I have your card?” But you never hear from her again.
You’re having a consultation with a perfect potential client. At the end of the conversation, you invite him to sign up for your online group program. “I need to think about it. I’ll get back to you,” he says. But he never does.
A colleague has a podcast, and you’re aching to be her guest. She says she’ll let you know when her schedule opens up. Crickets.
Every one of these opportunities is likely to dissolve into nothing unless you take action. Will you follow up? For most coaches, the honest answer to this question is “probably not.”
In this blog post, I’ll help get past your resistance so you’ll actually follow up.
What Gets In The Way?
When I ask clients in my marketing business – many of whom are coaches – what stops them from following up with potential clients or other promising leads, the response is nearly always the same: “I’m afraid they’ll feel like I’m harassing them.”
I hear you. I used to feel that way, too. A ton of opportunities evaporated because of that fear.
Improving your follow-up is a way to get more results from the marketing you’re already doing.
You’ve already attended the networking event, publicized your services, taken the time to perform a consultation, etc. You’ve grown the tree. Don’t you want to harvest the fruit?
I have some good news for you: most people are so inconsistent about initiating follow-up conversations that you can stand out simply by becoming pretty good at it. Perfection is not required.
So how can you get past that fear of annoying people?
To get some perspective, let’s take this out of the business realm for a moment.
Remember that time a friend invited you to an upcoming concert? It sounded like fun, but you weren’t sure you could make it. You said you’d try to figure it out and get back to them. But your car got a flat tire on the way home and you forgot.
Fortunately, your friend called you a few days later to ask if you’d made a decision. Without that call, you’d have missed out on what turned out to be what you called on Instagram the “Best. Concert. Ever.”
Did you feel harassed by their reminder call? Of course not!
Wouldn’t it be great if you could have an experience this easy and relaxed when you follow up with potential clients?
I’ve helped coaches build their businesses for over seven years, and I now have a clear sense of what’s going on underneath the refrain, “I’m afraid if I reach out again they’ll feel like I’m harassing them.”
Part of you believes that giving someone the opportunity to become your client is asking them a favor.
Let’s go back to the example of you and your friend. What if, instead of a concert, your friend had asked you to drive her to the airport next week. I bet it would have been much harder for her to call you and ask a second time.
Nobody likes to ask for a favor. And less than nobody likes to ask twice.
You became a coach because you knew you could help people reach their goals. You wanted to offer that gift to the world. Now, in a home or office where the phone is not ringing, there’s a person who wants to receive that gift from you. And yes, they expect to pay to get that help.
People don’t hire you out of pity. They hire you because you’re selling something they want or need, and the value is greater than or equal to the price tag.
When following up, remember that you’re not calling to ask a favor, but helping meet a need.
You’re inviting them to a concert, not asking for a ride to the airport.
This reframe can begin to ease your resistance to placing those calls.
One of the ways resistance operates in the human brain is that it makes us forget.
So you need a reminder system.
Plenty of options are available, including:
- ActiveCampaign pipelines
- A paper or online calendar
- Software like FollowUpThen or IFTTT
- Other productivity software
- A sticky note on your forehead
The best system is whatever you’ll actually use. Choose one today and get started changing your follow-up habits.
Your business will thank you for following up
Because following up can actually build trust, leading to more clients and an improved reputation. And failing to follow up has the opposite effect:
Once at a networking event I had such a great conversation with a business coach that we thought we might do a project together. She said she’d call me to discuss it. When I didn’t hear from her, I reached out.
Honestly, I don’t even remember if she responded, because her lack of follow up destroyed the trust built in our initial conversation. Especially because her specialty was … (wait for it) coaching people to improve their follow-up. True story.
Now that you understand the value of following up and have some new insight into the internal resistance you may experience, how will you get yourself to actually make that call or write that message?
Once you have your reminders set up, how will you get yourself to make that follow up call or write that email?
I promised you I’d share with you the small shift that made it easy for me to become someone who almost always follows up. This post is following up on that promise.
Let’s jump right in. Here’s what I do.
Set the stage for following up
Make a follow-up plan at the end of the initial conversation.
Let’s say I’m having a consultation with a prospective client who’s interested in having me build automations for her in ActiveCampaign and wants help with marketing strategy.
The conversation goes well, but when I ask if she’s ready to get started she says, “I need to think about it.”
Me: When do you want to make a decision?
Her: I want to decide by the end of next week.
Me: Is there any more information you need from me to help you make your decision?
Her: I don’t think so.
Me: OK, how about if I reach out to you next Thursday if I haven’t heard from you by then?
Her: That sounds good.
Me: How’s eleven o’clock?
Several things have happened here:
- I’ve communicated that I’m taking her at her word, rather than assuming she’s delaying as a way to get out of saying ‘no.’
- We’ve agreed on a timeline. This can be really helpful to people who are motivated by deadlines.
- I’ve made a commitment.
That third one is key. Now all I have to do to follow up is to keep a commitment I’ve already made. That’s much, much easier than trying to convince myself to follow up with someone who isn’t expecting to hear from me.
Now when I reach out on Thursday I can say, “I’m checking back in as promised.” How hard is that?
Following up in this way is a really easy way to demonstrate your integrity before you’re even hired.
Since I’ve implemented this in my business, multiple people have told me me they were really impressed by it. One even said the reason she hired me is that I followed up when I said I would.
This method works even with cold calls that go to voicemail
Here’s how that might sound:
I’d finish with my phone number and a link to my website.
With a cold call, I’d likely only follow up once. With a consultation, the potential client has already expressed interest. So I’d continue to follow up as needed until they reach a decision or I decide the lead is no longer worth my time and bring the communication to a close.
People hire coaches specifically because they want help with some part of their life. Often it’s because they feel stuck. The same behavior patterns keeping them stuck in their relationships or health or work life may get in their way of making a decision about hiring you or even reaching out again.
Don’t let your fear of bothering them prevent you from showing up in service. Help them stay focused on getting what they say they need.
Here are three reminders to give yourself before you make those follow-up calls:
- You’re keeping your word
- You’re not asking for a favor, but helping meet a need
- They may need help to get help!
You don’t have to be perfect. Most people are so bad at following up that even getting a little better at it may make you stand out!
Emily Levy works with solopreneurs in the coaching, speaking, and health fields to build an online presence that helps your ideal clients find you. You can request a free consultation today on her website.