You know you should do it and do it consistently. You know the value of doing it and what you have to gain. But even still, you just don’t do it…
That’s the story behind a lot of things in life, from flossing and hitting the gym a few times a week to skipping the latte and putting that money into a savings account.
Truth is, we all make excuses in life — it’s part of being human. In fact, some excuses are so universal that we hear them pop up over and over again.
But if you really dissect them, you’ll find they’re illusions with no real meat to them. Like these 10 excuses we hear for why businesses just don’t follow up…
Excuse #1: Follow up is a waste of time.
Wait, what? Uh, actually, not following up makes the rest of your sales process a waste of time.
Think about it…you spent time on your marketing in order to attract that customer.
When the customer got in touch with you, you or your office staff spent time on the phone answering their questions and scheduling their appointment.
Time went into getting their info and adding them to whatever system you use to manage your clients and your schedule.
Then, your tech spent time driving to the home or business, walking around, speaking with the customer, and gathering the info needed to understand the scope of the project.
Afterwards, your tech spent time putting together an estimate for the work that needed to be done and getting that estimate to the customer.
That’s a lot of time spent. And if you shoot that estimate off and never reach back out to the customer to follow up, that’s a lot of time wasted.
When we really dissect it, we find that follow up is not a waste of time — it actually prevents the rest of your sales process from being a waste of time.
So don’t let the fact that follow up takes time mislead you into thinking that it wastes time.
Excuse #2: Following up is not as productive as selling what’s in front of me.
Ooh, look! Something shiny and new! We get it. The new, the fresh, the right in front of you is way more appealing than the old.
But you’ve already provided an estimate and you’ve already invested time and effort into the sale.
Why spill your beer, strain your back, and nearly break your fishing rod trying to reel in that big fish, if you’re just going to cut the line and recast when you see sardines nearby?
Truth is: jobs that require follow up are almost always more lucrative, higher ticket jobs. In other words, they’re your big fish.
If you don’t want to worry about your next meal, you need to keep after the big fish, even though the little fish may be easier to catch.
We’ll drop the fishing analogy now.
Here’s the moral: don’t abandon the most valuable jobs just because you’re not big on follow up. You could be one, two, three touches away from convincing your customer to say yes to handing over their money, their trust, and their loyalty.
So stick with it, even when something new comes along.
Excuse #3: I don’t want to bother my customers.
Okay, like literally everyone else, you’ve probably been harassed by an annoying salesperson who just couldn’t take a hint or wouldn’t take no for an answer.
Maybe a sales rep from a certain 4 letter word review site? Just a guess…
Yes, being contacted over and over again when you’ve already said you’re not interested is annoying, and the fact that you don’t want to be like that means you’re a good man, Charlie Brown.
But reaching out to your customers every so often after you’ve provided an estimate isn’t a pushy, annoying thing to do.
Sure, if they say no and you continue to reach out to them to try to get them to change their mind, you’re stepping into “bothersome” “annoying” “harassment” territory. But follow up in and of itself isn’t synonymous with harassment.
The two should feel nothing alike!
Ever had a vet call to check on your pooch after a visit? Ever had a company email to see if you had any questions about a big purchase you were mulling over? Was that annoying or did you kinda, sorta like it?
Truth is: what your customers will actually think when you follow up is that you haven’t forgotten about them…that you care about them beyond that first interaction. Those are good thoughts and feelings to have.
So separate follow up from harassment in your mind. They’re very different things, just ask Webster!
Excuse #4: Following up makes me look desperate.
Here’s the thing: following up will only make you look desperate if you make it all about you.
When you make it about the customer and their needs, there’s no way you can come off as desperate. Instead, you’ll come off as caring and helpful.
In reality, you’re doing them a disservice by not following up because:
- People forget
- Uncertainty leads to inaction
They have hesitations they might not voice if they aren’t followed up with by someone who is understanding and wants what’s best for them.
If you truly believe the service you’re providing is something your customers need, something that will enhance their lives, following up isn’t an act of desperation, it’s your responsibility.
And if you choose not to follow up out of fear of appearing desperate, those hesitations will always stand between you and your sale.
Excuse #5: Following up doesn’t work.
You know what else doesn’t work if you don’t keep at it or do it right? Almost everything.
What if you went to the gym once, and because you didn’t lose weight or build muscle, you put your sneakers in storage thinking, “Well, obviously working out doesn’t work and I’ll never reach my target weight”?
That’s absurd, right? But that’s how a lot of business owners treat follow up.
Tough love alert: If you haven’t had any success with follow up, you either aren’t:
- following up consistently
- following up enough
- or following up right
It can be hard to figure out what works for your particular business and with your particular customers…What wording helps seal the deal? How long should you wait between touches? How many times should you reach out?
All of that takes time and effort to figure out. But if you get it right and stick with it, follow up will work. Promise.
Excuse #6: I always forget to follow up.
Being a business owner means you have a lot on your plate. And if your techs or office staff are in charge of follow-ups, they have a lot on their plates, too.
But here’s the thing: if something’s important enough, you’ll make sure you don’t forget to do it.
You’ll set a reminder, mark it on your calendar, or find a way to make it an automatic part of your sales process so you don’t have to think about it.
Do you forget to pay your employees? Do you forget to order materials? Of course not, because you know how important these things are.
Follow up is just as important, so make changes in your business so it gets done every time, no matter how much you’ve got going on.
We’re lucky to live in a time when technology makes it easier than ever to remember things. We have our phones in our pockets or palms at all times, and with reminders, notes, voice memos, and Siri, forgetting is really no longer a legitimate excuse.
Excuse #7: The customer will let me know when they’re ready.
My mother always used to say, “The squeaky wheel gets the oil.” My father’s favorite was, “Assuming makes an ass out of you and me.”
I’m sure your mother or father said similar things to you, too. And like me, you’ve probably discovered (much to your chagrin) that mom and dad were right about a lot.
…Like the value of staying in touch and where assumptions get you.
Assuming your customers will get back to you when they’re ready — that they don’t need to be followed up with — is a mistake.
Some customers need more hand holding. They need more assurance. If you have customers who are a little unsure or have questions, they may postpone making a decision if left to themselves. And that in itself is a decision, a decision not to act.
Following up allows you to put out your feelers and see how you can help those customers move forward. So don’t wait around for your customers — because for them, it may be easier to not do anything.
Instead, be there to answer their questions, allay their fears, and help them move past the fear of moving forward.
Excuse #8: I don’t have dedicated sales people to follow up.
If you don’t have any help for follow-ups, it can be extra challenging to implement consistent follow up. But it’s certainly not impossible…
Some business owners have success carving out time and committing a couple of hours at the end of their week to following up with all their open estimates.
Others find ways to automate the process so it gets done without them spending valuable time playing phone tag.
The point is, there are ways to make follow up work for your business, even if you’re a one man or one woman show and you’re wearing all the hats. You just have to get inventive and look for a solution that fits your business.
Don’t give up, because this is really important!
Excuse #9: The jobs that require follow up to close are the bottom of the barrel.
Truth is, on average, jobs that close after some good old-fashioned follow up are worth more.
Think about it: higher ticket decisions require more time, more trust, more contact. It’s easy to say yes to a $50 service, but a $5,000 service — that takes some serious time, consideration, and trust. Those are the jobs that you’re going to need to follow up on.
Are there some jobs in that stack of open estimates that are truly “bottom of the barrel”? Of course. But hiding in that stack are also jobs you want. And we’re willing to bet they’d actually be the most lucrative jobs if you took the time to follow up and close them.
In fact, we have one client who realized his unclosed estimates contained hundreds of thousands of dollars in additional annual revenue when he started following up.
Doesn’t sound bottom of the barrel, does it?
Excuse #10: I’m saving those open estimates for a rainy day.
Saving money for a rainy day = smart. Saving leads for a rainy day = not smart.
Why? When you first provide an estimate, that lead is hot. But the longer you wait to follow up and close that job, the colder that lead gets. And guess what?
Colder leads are harder to sell.
Strike while the iron is hot by following up and helping your customers move towards a decision.
The best part is, when you consistently follow up and close those bigger, higher-ticket jobs, you won’t need a rainy day fund, ‘cause you’ll be makin’ it rain!
Have you stopped making excuses? We’d love to hear how follow up is changing your business. Leave a comment and let us know how you made follow up work for you!