How Following Up with Your Contacts Outshines Cold Calling Every Time

Photo by A. L. on Unsplash

In the past, following up was something I rarely did. 

I figured that people knew me, knew what I did, and if they wanted to reach out to me, they would. Like a lot of business owning moms, I forget that EVERYONE is just as busy as me, they just have different goals and tasks (and task-masters!).

We don’t always have the brain space to think about contacting someone or starting a new project, or even that we want to reach out until it’s a bad time. Personally, I have trouble thinking about the calls I do want to make during the busy day. I think about calling my best friends at 6:00am when I have some time to myself, or at 11:00pm when I again have some me-time. Terrible times to call and start a chat! 

Most people are happy that you follow up and contact them! If for no other reason, to remind them of something on their list. Take a tip from bigger, successful companies. I know I get calls when I haven’t renewed my AAA membership on time, calls for additional lawn services, calls when it’s time for HVAC maintenance. I want to do all those things, but they’re lower priority than what I’m working on now. I’m glad someone else is keeping track!

When you’re running a business and incoming work is crucial, following up can be the lead generating activity you’ve been looking for. 

What do I mean when I say follow up?

I mean that you need to reach out and touch base with people. You don’t need to give them a hard-sell sales pitch. Speak to the person you know, not the business. Ask how they’re doing and if you remember details, ask about those. Did they just get a new puppy the last time you talked? Ask how training is going and how many shoes they’ve destroyed and have a laugh over the cute pictures on Instagram.

Smile when you talk and really listen. Be quick and to the point. If you’re emailing, get to the point pretty quickly. Ask how they’re doing, how their latest campaign went, what they’re working on now. Ask about future goals and whether they need some help.

If you come across an industry article or bit of news, ask if they’ve seen it, or go ahead and send it to them.

And, if you’re currently waiting on answers from them, check in to see where they are.

Close your call or email with some sort of small call to action (CTA). I have recently found it helpful to ask, “Would you like some help with that?” If I get a yes, it’s easy to schedule the first step, usually a discovery call. If I get a no, then I usually say something like, “Great, sounds like you have things under control! If it gets overwhelming for you, you can check out my article on XYZ.”

Who to follow up with

“Customers want to be chased.”

Mike Killen

As it turns out, follow up with all your contacts. You just never know who will need your help or just be happy you reminded them of something.

Here’s a list of who to follow up with and what I’ve found to be effective.

Sending a short email periodically to ask for a call or see how their current project is going: 

Leads – if an interested lead hasn’t replied to your latest communication, don’t let the relationship wither away. We automatically assume they don’t like us, but it could also be that they have a million things like family and home and pets and life and work to juggle.

Subscribers – Check in and see if you can help your subscribers. They have already bought a tiny product from you, so listen to what they have to say about their needs and the kinds of help they would like from you.

Social followers – If you have some very engaged social followers, shoot them an email to invite them to join your email list or one of your groups.

Leads who didn’t hire you – these folks might be regretting their decision not to hire you. You’ll never know unless you reach out and see how their project is going. This is, for me, the toughest one, but it can really pay off.

Pick up the phone and really talk with:

Current customers – they may have issues they’re not speaking up about. Or, they may want to add more work/the next step. Find out with regular calls during a project.

Past customers – they may be ready for the next step, but have just been too busy to initiate it. They may also not know what next steps might be available. You can check in and you can also educate.

Colleague network – Reach out for coffee and lunch dates with these folks. These are the people who will send you referrals and might be able to help you in your own business.

Why following up is better than cold calling

The most obvious reason following up is better than cold calling is that the people you’re interacting with already know you. These are “warm” people rather than “cold.” You don’t have to reintroduce yourself! Nearly all of them would like to hear from you, so you’ll get a much higher response rate.

For leads and customer prospects, a follow up call or email is another touch point in the 7 – 11 required touch points that leads need before buying. If you get into a true conversation, then it’s a very valuable touch point that can be the tipping point in building the trust required for someone to make a purchase.

Following up can also make you aware of the general needs and desires of your audience. You’ll be having real interactions, not just email blasts to random folks. You can use the data you gather to improve your offers and your content. By following up with some of your audience, you can better help all of your audience.

Following up beats cold calling

Why we hesitate to follow up

Lots of women have been conditioned not to be pushy. It’s said (incorrectly!!!) that a strong and forceful woman is aggressive and a strong and forceful man is assertive. That’s not true, but our minds sometimes worry about that because of our conditioning.

We hesitate because we worry about being rejected. In our heads, we imagine someone is going to say, “Stop calling me you imbecile! You suck! I don’t want to hear from you ever!” Stop and think though. No one is going to say that. And what if they did? They would be so out of line it’s ridiculous. At the very worst you’re going to get a, “No thanks,” or a, “This isn’t a good time.” Stop worrying about rejection.

We also worry about looking desperate. You can easily avoid this by not being desperate! Don’t think about yourself and your business when you follow up. Think about the person at the other end of the message. Think about how you care about how they’re doing and how you might be helpful to them. Smile. Those feelings will come out in your voice or writing instead of desperation.

Along the same lines, we worry about annoying people. This is my big fear – I hate to bother people or put myself in their way. The good news is that it’s the 21st century and if someone doesn’t want to hear from you all they have to do is not answer the phone or not read your email. There’s no reason anyone should be bothered by your following up.

No excuse not to follow up

I’m pretty sure I’ve eliminated your excuses not to follow up. Now go check in with your people!

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