To convince a potential customer to start working with you or an existing client to renew their commitment and purchase additional services from you, a follow-up system is an effective sales tool that you can leverage to significantly increase your likelihood of success.
If you’re selling services to other companies, gaining the decision-maker’s trust should be your #1 priority. The way you do that is not by spamming their inbox with irrelevant copy-and-paste information but with thoughtful, carefully crafted follow-up messages.
The trouble with this personable approach is that it takes a long time to achieve and doesn’t scale well. This is why companies would traditionally go on to hire huge sales forces to send out across the nation and spread the word regarding the benefits of their product or service.
A better way to handle client follow-up
While there’s nothing wrong with hiring a talented sales force if you have the means to, technology can help ease the pain a little. Automated email sequences, trigger workflows (also known as “journeys”), and other communication-based solutions are all out there.
The problem is, they’re quite tough to navigate. Some of these solutions seem easy to understand at first, only to overwhelm you with a wave of complexity months later.
A lot of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems are designed exactly in this fashion: start small and easy (often for free) and move your way up the ladder.
This promise sounds reasonable, except that you end up getting stuck in a loop of continuously paying for more and more features that are taken away from you by design exactly when you need them most.
And that is a deeply-frustrating experience.
As a service provider, your goal is to turn as much of your revenue into net profit as possible, and that becomes hard when you commit to paying increasing amounts of money to various software solutions.
That’s where an all-in-one follow-up system comes into play.
The all-in-one client follow up system explained
Your followup system is part of your sales process, whether for existing clients or for new leads coming through your marketing efforts. That system needs to be thoughtfully-designed if you want it to be effective for years to come (which should be your ultimate goal).
For that, here’s an “all-in-one” system that works:
Step #1 of follow-up system: Understand what your ideal buyer cares about most
The most important aspect of any sales activity is to understand who your ideal client is and what they care about most. This effort requires you to step into your buyers’ shoes and ask yourself what they’d want to see if they ended up on any of your marketing resources.
Although follow-ups are further along in the sales process than your potential customer engaging with marketing materials, their decision will be driven by what they’ve consumed prior to talking with a sales rep or reaching out directly, so you need to bridge the two things.
You can gain a complete understanding of your customer’s journey through the marketing funnel and sales process by mapping out their questions, actions, and worries in a journey map.
This will be connected to your buyer persona, a semi-fictional representation of your ideal buyer.
To create this asset, establish which stages your ideal buyer has to go through before you even have a chance to follow up with them. Then, at the follow-up stage, provide the customer with the right resources so that they can take close-to-immediate action and move forward.
Step #2 of follow-up system: Decide when the follow-up will happen
Should the follow-up happen as the potential customer fills out an online form (trigger workflow), or should it be sent out after an engagement with a salesperson? (email sequence)
Depending on how big your organization is, the business model you’re working with, and the scale at which you’re looking to increase your sales efforts, you can use either. But for small firms that are just starting out, manual follow-ups are the best as they are personable.
To decide when a follow-up needs to happen, look at your business model more so than your sales process: are you selling bespoke services or packaged software solutions? Are your services packaged in tiered plans that can be sold as subscriptions or sold as one-offs?
For bespoke services, you’ll want to reach out manually when somebody replies to an online form. After an interaction with a salesperson, you can send out an email sequence with 3-4 messages that are personalized specifically to the customers’ needs; or continue manually.
For packaged software or service solutions and one-offs with transparent pricing, a fully-automated lead nurturing system leading to sales is more effective. It’s also a bit more complex to set up and may end up costing you significant fees for software licensing.
Step #3 of follow-up system: Create resources that are exclusive to the follow-up
When you’ve decided the type of follow-up you want to deal with depending on your business model, and where in the marketing and sales process it will happen, you want to craft resources that are only available within the direct channel between you and the potential customer.
These are assets like:
- One-pagers (PDFs explaining the benefits of your service in one page)
- Landing pages (website pages explaining specifics of your service)
- Case studies (success stories from previous customer projects)
- Personalized videos (adds a layer of engagement to just text)
A client follow-up system that only includes text without imagery or links back to additional resources won’t help much with convincing the customer you are a right fit. Here’s an example of a one-pager link in an email:
For sales to happen swiftly, you need the resources to explain what you offer clearly and exclusively to potential customers rather than the general public. That will add a layer of trust which is immeasurable since clients will feel like you are helping them; not just yourself.
On top of that, reinforcing claims such as positive customer feedback and testimonials will go a long way towards making the resources even more credible and compelling.
Step #4 of follow-up system: Keep track of each customer interaction
This step is a tricky one.
Keeping track of customer interactions is very time-consuming as you’ll have to go in manually and gather a significant amount of information within a spreadsheet to get it done.
This is the reason why CRM systems like HubSpot and Salesforce exist as they remove the need to register when you’ve followed up with somebody and a host of other bits of data.
It’s an important step as it’ll allow you to analyze which parts of the follow-up system can be improved later on, and keep an eye on all potential deals at once.
An all-in-one service management tool like ManyRequests can help with handling the entire process; from registering the lead’s information to ultimately delivering the service.
Step #5 of follow-up system: Reach out at regular intervals
Once you’ve decided whether you’d like to go manual with a spreadsheet or semi-automated via a CRM tool, it’s time to put your client follow-up system into practice.
The most important thing is to set up your follow-ups in a way that reaches your ideal customers at regular intervals without annoying them. Balancing the schedule is key here.
Let’s take an example:
- You are offering a bespoke service for which the first step in the process is to fill out an online form that offers a free 30-minute consultation.
- When a potential customer fills out the form, they automatically receive an invitation to your meeting, or you reach out directly to them with a link for a live call.
- During the meeting, you discuss your customers’ needs and, if they fit certain criteria, you can use a standardized email sequence comprising 4 messages with relevant information. The send schedule should be 2-3 days for the first 2 emails, and 3-4 days for the last 2 emails.
- If you don’t have the means to send out email sequences, another option is to craft the follow-ups manually by going through your sales resource and highlighting the value of a highly-personable service that isn’t your cookie cutter approach to servicing.
- Your goal is to have the customer reply affirmatively to any of the messages being sent out, after which the follow-up system will be temporarily halted. Ask pointed questions in each email that will lead your potential customer to reply or act on something. Some modern experiences include video to increase engagement.
If you follow this approach with all potential customers coming through your marketing funnel, you’re highly likely to move them down the sales funnel and start working with them.
Although having sales resources at hand is important, the key is in the repeated cadence and personalized service. The companies that are able to scale their sales efforts effectively are those that integrate both manual and automated messages seamlessly.
Step #6 of follow-up system: Seal the deal
If the potential client doesn’t respond, or if they stutter and seem unsure whether they want to move forward or not, your last chance is to seal the deal once and for all.
Towards the end of your email sequence, you want to make an offer that customers who are truly interested in your services cannot reject. This doesn’t have to be a discount; it could also be a slight addition to what is offered with the plan they are interested in.
Whatever the case, make sure you already know what perks you can offer during the follow-up process without giving up too much of your time and effort. The additional perks should be baked into the project costs from the very beginning but only offered as a last resort.
A slight discount for the first month of work is fine if you’re offering a packaged service or software solution that needs some time to be configured properly.
Why good service is the ultimate form of follow-up
Designing a good client follow-up system will greatly-improve the effectiveness of your sales process but it cannot stand on its own without a great service to back it up.
When customers consume your sales resources during the follow-up process, they are setting expectations for themselves based on what you offer. If you aren’t able to meet those expectations in a short period of time, the progress on that end will be lost quickly.
An unhappy customer is a customer that tells all of their network not to work with you, perhaps even leaving you a bad review. Multiply that by the 100s of customers you’re bound to make as a result of a well-designed follow-up process and you’re in for some trouble.
“When clients consume your sales resources during the follow-up process, they are setting expectations for themselves based on what you offer.”
With a service management system like ManyRequests, all those worries are gone as you can integrate your follow-up strategy into your management strategy in one place.
Starting from the bottom and moving your way up the sales and marketing processes, ManyRequests allows you to effectively manage what matters most: great service.
Having a good sales process is fantastic but providing a great dependable service is even better.
See how you can achieve that with a free 14-day trial of ManyRequests.
Frequently asked questions
A good client follow-up system is comprised of 6 elements: 1) Understanding your ideal buyer; 2) Deciding when to follow up; 3) Creating resources that are exclusive to the follow-up channel; 4) Keeping track of customer interactions; 5) Reaching out at regular intervals, and; 6) Sealing the deal with perks like discounts or additional offers when customers don’t act.
To organize client information, you have 2 options: 1) Design a spreadsheet from scratch and include the data you need most (ex: date of engagement, stage in the buyer’s journey, contact details, follow-up messages sent out, etc.), or; 2) use a CRM tool to handle the heavy-lifting of capturing all of this information on your behalf so you can focus on the follow-ups.
It depends on your business model. If you’re selling services that are packaged in monthly subscriptions or retainers, a tool like ManyRequests can help you deliver the service effectively with the additional help of a simple spreadsheet to keep track of customer interactions. If you don’t need service management capabilities, any other CRM tool available will do the job.