Did you know on average, only 2% of sales are closed during the first point of contact with a new client? This means if you don’t follow up with potential customers, you may miss out on 98% of your opportunities!
No matter what kind of business you run, knowing the best follow-up methods and how to apply them is essential. They are the golden ticket when it comes to getting more bookings and growing your client base. Friendly and helpful follow-ups will also allow you to stand out from your competitors.
It’s easy to assume prospects who are really interested will actively chase you up, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Customers often just aren’t ready to commit yet, and if you don’t keep in touch, they may choose a competitor once they’re ready to go all-in. This is especially true for higher-value services (like large renovations), but even for quick repairs and smaller jobs, giving up after the first contact is a costly mistake.
The best follow-ups are genuine conversations, and they can happen via email, text message or phone. Remember the goal of a follow up is to educate your potential customers about the solutions you can give them. Focus on listening and sharing instead of just closing the deal – you’ll find you’re building a lasting relationship.
Follow-ups may seem like a simple gesture, but they make a big difference to your customer’s overall experience. It’s a way to show that you care, and reaching out also keeps your business at the front of the customer’s mind.
Read on to learn more about effectively following up with your customers, meaning you can convert more valuable leads.
Why Is It Important To Follow Up With Customers?
Here are the key reasons you should follow up with your customers:
- Following up makes you more likely to close the deal
A Harvard Business Review study shows that salespeople who reach out within an hour of receiving an inquiry have a 60% better chance of getting the lead. In fact, following up within 5 minutes means you’re 9 times more likely to close the deal! Especially with time-sensitive services and repairs, consumers often choose the service provider who responds the fastest.
- Following up builds relationships
Following up with customers is a great way to make them feel important. By continuing to reach out, you show that you care for their needs and you’re committed to helping them solve their problems.
More points of contact also allow your client to talk about any questions or concerns they have. This lets you dive deeper into what they expect from you as a service provider. As a result, you’re able to customise your service to their needs and leave customers more satisfied.
- Following up keeps you ahead of the pack
According to studies, 70% of salespeople stop communicating with customers after just one email. When you follow up with a customer, you are doing what many other businesses don’t, allowing you to get the edge over your competitors.
Especially when your customers have urgent issues, such as electrical or plumbing concerns, getting back to them quickly gives you a big advantage. Following up quickly and being reliable in their time of need can even earn you a spot on their speed-dial for their next emergency repair.
- Following up helps you get recommendations
Following up is a key part of providing excellent customer service! A well-executed follow-up lets your customers know you care about solving their problems, which reflects positively on your business.
Going above and beyond to provide solutions means your happy clients are more likely to spread the word about you and refer your business to friends. Taking initiative makes all the difference, and when customers have busy lives of their own, making a point to follow up can be extremely helpful to them.
- Following up improves the overall customer experience
Requesting feedback after you’ve completed a service could prevent minor issues from becoming major difficulties. When you phone to follow up, your customer will know that you’re willing to help them with whatever problem they’re having.
You can avoid negative reviews or, worse, demands for a refund by simply asking how their service went. Giving clients a chance to raise any issues means you can get on top of them quickly.
Which Customers Should I Follow Up?
You may ask yourself which customers are the most important to follow up on? Anyone who has shown interest in your services should be followed up – from warm leads through to those who’ve provided their contact details during a promotion.
When a potential client contacts you, you already have one foot in the door! So if someone has already expressed a need for your services, a thoughtful follow-up is key to bagging the sale. These are the warm leads that should be followed up as soon as possible – within five minutes, where it’s feasible, and you definitely shouldn’t stop after one attempt to contact them.
You should also follow up with people who have provided their contact details. This may have been someone you met through networking, or you may have gathered their information through your marketing efforts. If clients will need your service on a regular basis – for instance, six-monthly air conditioning maintenance or an annual pest control treatment – you can make use of your CRM and email marketing set-up to provide scheduled reminders.
Of course, it is also wise to follow up with returning customers, and ensure you have post-service follow-up processes in place. This gesture shows you are serious about providing superior customer service, so a nice personal follow-up helps build brand loyalty.
When To Follow Up With A Customer
It is best to follow up with any enquiry as soon as possible. ‘The sooner the better’ is the principle to keep in mind. In fact, getting in touch with a lead in under five minutes will really boost your chances of closing the deal.
Harvard Business Review states that you’re 100 times more likely to get in contact with a lead if you phone within 5 minutes, compared to just 30 minutes later. You’ll also be 21 times more likely to make the sale if you reach out within that 5 minute window. When 35-50% of sales go to the service provider who is the first to respond, being prompt gives you a massive head start.
With a social media or online-based inquiry, these should be responded to within the hour. However, if a customer reaches out to you for a more detailed discussion of your services, or you need to prepare an estimate, do your best to get it done within 24 hours. Your clients usually have urgent concerns, so a quick response shows them you care about their needs.
If you have already met with a client or prepared a quote, it’s best to follow up the next day. Give them a call or email summarising anything you talked about, and get the ball rolling on the next steps.
Best Contact Methods To Follow Up With A Customer
The best way to contact a customer depends on their preference – some will appreciate a phone call and others may prefer you to contact them by email. During your first encounter with a client, ask about their preferred method of contact, including what time of day is best for you to call.
You should also make sure you are available to respond to their concerns and set reasonable expectations if there are times you’re offline. For instance, if you’re not able to answer Facebook messages during the day, letting the client know to call you during business hours helps avoid any stressful scenarios. Where possible, regularly check your email inbox and social media messages during the day, or have someone on your team monitor these for you.
Here are some modes of communication you can use to follow up with your customers.
Pros of following up via phone:
- Following up through a phone call lets you discuss the job in real time.
- Hearing your tone of voice helps to build trust.
- Having a two-way conversation makes it easier to ask and answer questions.
- Being able to follow up immediately helps you secure an appointment on the spot.
Cons of following up via phone:
- As calling puts people on the spot, the client may not have the right information in front of them – for instance, dimensions of a job they want done.
- A phone call doesn’t always have the right timing. You might catch them at a bad time, or you might interrupt them in the middle of something important.
- If the call comes from an unknown number, there’s a chance the customer may not answer – in this case, following up with a text message can let the client know who you are for next time.
Pros of following up through text messages:
- Texting is most appropriate for customers you have an existing relationship with. By this point, you have a better understanding of whether your client is comfortable texting.
- Text messages seeming more urgent than emails. As most people are on their phones throughout the day, you can expect a quicker response.
- Customers know that text messages are short, so opening, reading, and replying won’t take much of their time.
- It’s easy to write text messages since they’re usually shorter and more direct. You don’t need to write a lot to convey your message.
- People of all ages use text messages. Because everyone has a phone, there’s a good possibility they’ll read your message, even when on the go.
Cons of following up through text messages:
- It’s challenging to convey your tone via text, which can create problems if customers misinterpret what you’re saying.
- Texting is not ideal for discussing complicated issues. If a text is longer than a few sentences, it may become confusing and difficult to explain.
- Texts can still seem impolite if sent at the wrong time of day – don’t forget to respect your clients’ boundaries and after-hours time, depending on their preferences.
Pros of following up through emails:
- An email is fast to send and easy to track. You can always refer to your previous conversations with a client to plan your next move.
- Many clients like email since it’s non-intrusive. They can view and respond to your messages anytime they’re free and then take the time to draft their responses.
- You can organise your thoughts and clearly explain your pitch before hitting send. There’s less room for mistakes since you can use a template to create your email.
Cons of following up through emails:
- Your email might get lost in a client’s busy inbox, so there’s no guarantee your message will be received.
- If your business is just starting out, it’s possible your email may also go to their spam folder due to low engagement.
- Your customer may be used to getting a lot of advertising through email. There’s always a risk that they won’t open the email or assume they’re being sold something they don’t need.
Each mode of communication has its share of upsides and downsides. The bottom line is, let your customer take the lead and ask them their preferred contact method during your first point of contact. This shows that you respect their time and their boundaries.
What To Say When Following Up A Customer
The way you follow up with your customers reflects on your entire business, so always be honest and direct. Scams from fake tradies have been rising in recent years, so clients are more careful in who they choose to trust. Even if you’re a legitimate business, when a client suspects you’re not telling the truth or trying to hide something, it may turn them off.
Here are tips to give you an idea of what to say when you follow up with a customer:
Introduce Yourself and Your Business
Your client is probably waiting for multiple calls or quotes, so spare them the guessing game and be clear upfront about who’s calling. Tell them who you are, and the business you own or represent.
Remind Them Why They Contacted You
Start your conversation by briefly recounting why you are contacting them. Remind them of the issue that they need resolving and how you can help them. Be specific but brief about the details. Don’t call for the sake of calling or just to reach out. Be clear about your purpose, and try to have a tangible goal in mind for the conversation.
Show Your Understanding Of Their Scenario
It is important to let your customer know you are aware of their problem and outline your plan to fix it. Therefore, it is usually best to have the same person handle all follow-up correspondence with a client. If you or your representative know the project by heart from day one, you can answer your client’s questions and address their concerns immediately.
This is where notes from previous meetings or email threads will come in handy. You should refer to them to make your conversations more productive and show your expertise.
Don’t Be Too Pushy
Being pushy is an easy way to make clients feel disrespected. No one wants to deal with a salesperson who is too aggressive, and customers really want to feel like they’re worth more than their dollar value.
It is understandable to feel frustrated or exhausted during the follow-up process, especially if the lead needs some convincing. Still, you’ll need to stay cool, calm and professional to win them over, and the goal is always to give the customer confidence in your service.
Remember that it’s their home or business, so they will base their decisions on what they feel is best for them. No matter what happens, never let your emotions get the best of you. Even if you don’t get the sale this time, you should always leave the conversation on a positive note. Who knows, they might consider your services in the future!
Ask Questions & Overcome Objections
A good follow-up involves asking the right questions. Avoid asking simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ questions, as this limits the chances of getting valuable information in return. Try to determine which questions are most important, too, so you don’t overwhelm your client.
Try to refrain from:
- Asking leading questions: “I think you had your gutter repaired last summer. Am I right?”
- Asking multiple questions at once: “Who repaired it? Did you hire a contractor? Did your husband do it? Were you satisfied with the job?”
- Rambling on: “Have you tried cleaning the gutter? You know it’s important to clean them regularly. Do you know those robot-gutter cleaner things? They don’t work. I know this guy who used it and killed some birds….”
These examples may confuse the client and introduce unnecessary details. Remember, your clients are busy people, too. “When was the last time you had your gutters repaired?” is a direct question that will get you the answer you need.
There may be times you are met with objections. The first step is to listen to your client’s reasons and not be defensive. Understand where their hesitation is coming from and sympathise with their concerns.
Then, address the biggest concern first. Other complaints may become irrelevant once you’ve resolved this. The key is to provide them with the best answer for their problem. Don’t just think about closing the deal – think of how you can help them instead. You want to get the customer’s booking fair and square, by offering the best solution.
Set An Appointment or Plan Next Steps
For every point of contact, the goal should be to get a tangible outcome – that is, to book an appointment or lock in the next step. If they need more time to think about your proposal, confirm a day where you will reach out. Actively set up the next appointment or point of contact rather than leaving it up to your client to contact you.
You can also highlight what comes next to get them excited enough to hire you. Even consider showing them pictures of your previous work, and tell them you’ll send a proposal in two days. By giving them an insight into what you can do, they’ll look forward to receiving your quote or talking with you again to discuss the project further.
How To Follow Up A Customer With A Phone Call
Phone calls and phone etiquette don’t come naturally to everyone, and that’s okay. But if you feel uncomfortable making sales calls, this is something the client can pick up on. Consider the following steps and practise your follow-up calls to get you sounding calm and confident.
- Call your customer at the agreed-upon time. By doing so, you are showing you respect their schedule. For this reason, it can help to give a window rather than an exact time – for instance, between 1pm and 3pm.
- Introduce yourself and the business you represent.
- Remind your client why you’re following up. Give the details of your previous meeting and refresh their memory about the solutions you can provide.
- You need to stand out, so avoid starting the conversion with generic introductions, such as
“I was just checking if you have decided.”
“I’m calling to know if you have other concerns or questions.”
“I’m calling about the proposal I sent the other day.”
“I’m calling to check if you received my email.”
Consider using this example instead:
This is [name] from [business]. When we spoke last Friday, you told me you wanted to have a bathtub installed in your master bathroom. However, you were worried that the design that you wanted won’t fit the current layout.
I would like to offer you a free assessment of your bathroom to check its measurements and inspect where the tub will be installed. Then I can send you through a personalised quote on the installation. When would be a good day for me to come out?”
How To Follow Up A Customer With An Email
A follow-up email has the following vital parts:
- The subject line
Studies show that 33% of clients open an email based on what is written in the subject line. This means you need to have a catchy subject line for your email to be noticed.
Never make the subject line ‘follow-up’, even if that is the purpose of the email. This subject line does not provide value to your client and may end up in the recycle bin.
The best subject lines clearly state what your email is about or how it can help your client. The client should know exactly what the email is about and not ignore it as general spam.
- The body
When drafting an email, always remember to offer value to the recipient. Ask yourself how your services can help them.
Think about the bigger picture of the client’s needs when making a pitch via email. Here you can provide options, suggest solutions, or give any other useful information based on the details they have provided.
Now is the time to bring out your previous meeting notes to make sure you’re understanding the client’s problems. Remembering and addressing little details will show you’re really paying attention.
- Call to action
The CTA is an important yet overlooked part of a follow-up email. Make sure that you clearly state what you want your customer to do after reading the email you sent. For example, specify if you want them to reply, fill out a form or give you a call after reading.
Having a clear and concise CTA increases your chance of transforming the follow-up into converted lead. It’s a good idea to have a contingency in there, rather than leaving the ball in the client’s court – for instance, if you don’t hear from them, you’ll give them a call on Wednesday morning to check in.
Here’s an example email that can be used after an initial meeting:
Email subject line:
What’s Next for Project Me-time: AKA Bathtub installation
It was nice meeting you yesterday and talking about the benefits of an excellent herbal soak. I’m raring to work on your bathtub installation so you and your family can get that much-needed spa experience in the comfort of your home.
I’ve attached an information sheet for you to fill out so we can get started. The next step is for one of our plumbers to come and measure up the area, so we can give you a personalised quote.
Kindly fill this out and send it back as soon as possible so we can start this exciting project.
Looking forward to working with you.
[Name & Business]
How Many Times Should I Attempt To Follow Up A Client?
If your client doesn’t answer or respond to your initial follow up, you may be wondering how many times to try again? The most important advice is to pay attention to your customer and their needs. The industry you work in will also have its own norms and expectations, and higher-value services are likely to need more points of contact before the customer is locked in.
Looking at the sales process again, studies have shown that six is the magic number: 95% of leads that converted into sales were locked in on the sixth call. However, this process will look different for each service – a customer looking for someone to urgently unblock a drain is likely to book an appointment during the first phone conversation
On the other hand, the process of converting a lead for a bathroom renovation may look very different. In this case, it will probably take many points of contact to get that customer on board. This could be a Facebook message to start with, a voicemail, a follow-up text and then a phone conversation – so be open to using different methods to communicate, depending on what the client needs.
The most important lesson is to never give up after the first attempt! Keep persisting until you’re certain the booking isn’t going ahead – or you might just miss out on a valuable long-term customer.
Upselling Your Business In The Sales Follow-Up
Understanding Your Client’s Needs
Upselling isn’t just about making more money; it’s another way of showing the client that you understand their needs. If there is an additional service or feature of your business that you think can help your customer, don’t be afraid to suggest it.
Make sure that what you’re selling to your client is relevant to the original proposal, though. If the original pitch is a bathtub installation, for example, you could offer a higher quality of bathroom fixtures, especially if there’s a feature or benefit you know would suit their brief. If there’s any other work that’s convenient or cost-effective to do at the same time, this is also something you can propose to the client.
Aim to Inform and Not to Manipulate
Rather than pushing your clients into getting a service they don’t need, focus on their satisfaction. Instead of burning a hole in their pockets, come up with cost-effective solutions and bundles that will ultimately give them the best value. This is where it’s helpful to give them all the information needed to understand why it’s a good option for them.
Present the additional services in a way that they won’t feel pressured. Always remember that your relationship with your client is more important than upselling, and pushing for more revenue can mean losing the sale altogether. Keep your eye on the long-term opportunities the client has to offer, and aim to leave them happy with the outcome at the end of the service.
Should I Use An Automated Follow-Up Tool?
An automated follow-up tool allows you to schedule follow up emails and messages to clients. This kind of software can help you manage your leads while allowing you to focus on other aspects of your business. However, for small businesses who don’t have high volumes of incoming leads, it’s worth following up personally for prospective customers, while using automated tools for post-service follow-up and regular reminders.
Should I Offer Specials Or Deals In A Follow-Up Email?
Offering specials or deals via a follow-up email is a great idea that can help boost your sales. The secret is to find a perfect balance between encouraging your customers to use your services while maintaining a comfortable profit margin for your business. If you know a customer may give you lots of repeat business, offering a discount for their first service is a smart move to get your foot in the door – but for one-off services, make sure you’re still making enough profit to justify doing the work.