Business Building Follow Up Calls
With all the automation that technology has brought us over the years, sometimes it's easy to forget the importance of personal follow up phone calls to the people we've already done business with.
While mailing campaigns, both through letters and email, newsletters and other mass communication techniques are invaluable to a businessperson's ability to keep in touch with past customers and clients, the power of person to person contact really cannot be replaced.
Always remember that no matter how sophisticated your "after the sale" follow up is, people still need to hear your voice and know that you're a professional who cares about them as individuals, as well as their future business needs. Technology and mass communications will ensure that past clients will remember you, but nothing demonstrates your attention to professional and personal service like a person to person phone call.
If you're after the sale "action plan" doesn't include personal follow up at least two or three times a year, then you're missing out on many business-building opportunities.
While automated follow up plans will likely earn you the right to interview for a customer's future business, it often takes a more personal connection for people to remember you when it comes to sending referrals and providing leads.
If you want more of your past clients to mention you by name when a friend, coworker or neighbor expresses an interest in buying or selling, then you're going to need to touch them on a more personal level than many salespeople are used to. Interestingly, most businesspeople understand the need for ongoing personal client contact intuitively, but are often unsure of how to effectively implement on a regular basis.
It's easy to pick up the phone and call if the past client is someone with whom you have many things in common, or is actively involved in some of the same organizations, groups and clubs that you belong to. But, what do you say to someone with whom you really have nothing in common, and likely won't see again until the next time that they need to buy or sell?
Always a Reason To Call
When it comes to calling past customers and clients, what most salespeople need in order to feel comfortable is a good reason to call. Simply calling to say "hello" and to ask for business leads and referrals often is not seen as enough of a reason for many to do so. But, good reasons to call do abound, if only you'll look for them.
For starters, you should modify your "after the sale" follow up program to include a reminder to call at least twice a year. When the time for calling comes, all you need to do is quickly search your MLS to locate recent sales and current listings that are close to the client's home.
A short and personal call that keeps the past client up to date is almost always welcome, and perceived as a good reason to call by the client, as well. While you'll need to develop an approach that suits your own style, a call such as:
"Mr. Wilson, Stephen Canale calling, how are you? I just noticed that the Cramer's home down the block went on the market for $189, and also that the Linden's home finally sold for $185 and I thought that you would probably like to know."As most homeowner do like to know what their neighbors are up to, this simple ice breaker can lead to a very productive conversation about area real estate values, the person's own home and what's going on in the neighborhood in general.
Even when a spontaneous conversation doesn't ensue, your name will likely come up in future conversation when Mr. Wilson mentions the recent market activity to either his wife or one of his immediate neighbors.
Everyone Love Good News
While one or two quick calls a year to update your past customers and clients about neighborhood market activity may be all you need to integrate personal contact into your "after the sale" follow up activities, other great opportunities for quality contact exist.
Since most newspapers have sections that recognize individuals for job promotions, awards and good civic deeds, you'll find countless opportunities to congratulate many of those you know.
Add to this the commonly published announcements for births, graduations, engagements and weddings and you're likely to have a good reason to contact just about everyone you know on a yearly basis or so.
Nobody ever thought ill of someone who called to say
"I just read the wonderful news about your son's engagement (wedding, promotion, award, entry into parenthood, graduation, etc.) and wanted to say congratulations. You must be very excited!" - or proud, depending on the specific news you're calling about.I'd suggest that you commit to making it a habit to scan the daily newspaper for good news about people you know, and then consistently follow up with a congratulatory phone call, or at least a personal handwritten note.
By combining a couple short "market update" calls with those to "congratulate" the people you know, you'll have ample "good reasons" to be in personal touch with most of your past customers and clients several times a year.
Doing so will not only demonstrate that you're on top of the market, but that you're also a professional who provides ongoing personal service, and one who cares about his buyers and sellers even after cashing the commission check.
If you will make just a few personal phone calls a year to everyone you know, you'll find that this extra effort will generate endless good will and business for you in the years to come.
The content of this article is based on my seminar:Stephen M. Canale
Preparing Professionals for Competition in Tomorrow's Marketplace