followupAre you sick and tired of giving away more than 3/4 of your prospects to your competition because of follow up failure? Keep reading…because you’re about to go from FOLLOW UP Failure to Follow up FABULOUS!

In the housing industry (senior or residential), a lead costs an average of $500. And after going through all the trouble of generating these expensive, valuable, precious leads, it would be a shame to not get your money’s worth from those inquiries…but that’s exactly what’s happening.

It’s shocking, but 80% of all inquiries or leads never receive ANY type of follow up! If that’s not enough, in a survey, 65% of managers cited “Follow up” as their #1 Business Failure!

No surprise, but the largest and fastest growing source of new leads is the Internet. 87% of our inquiries will research you online first – on your website, search engines and all the various social media and review sites like Angie’s list and google plus. Of the people who go to your website, 45% of them will purchase from you or a competition within 12 months….and 75% of those people will buy from the first person they speak to.

In fact, when a web leads contact you, if you contact them back within 5 minutes of them reaching out to you, you are 100TIMES more likely to reach them, engage them and sell to them than if you wait just 30 minutes!

I’ve always said the most damaging statistic is the one you don’t know. And the truth is, I’ll bet no one reading this knows for certainty how many prospects they are GIVING away. But we can only take a guess at the cost of NOT following up by estimating lost revenue.

Maybe you’re thinking, Mona, I hear you, but I know our people ARE doing follow up. My answer to you would be AWESOME…that’s great. Let’s look at what follow up is being done.

Ask people why they don’t do follow up or stop doing follow up, and you’ll hear some very legitimate reasons:followup2

• Afraid to appear too pushy
• Forgetting to follow up
• No time
• Don’t know what to say
• Don’t have system
• Don’t know what to do with some of the prospects you get

I recently googled “sales follow up” and got 969,000 hits. Everyone recognizes that follow up is a problem and is necessary for success, but no one tells you HOW to do it. So I will take a stab at it.

Here are Mona’s FOLLOW UP tips:

1. Follow up should be “appropriate” for who they are, where they came from and what they are interested in.

Your leads come from a variety of sources; website sticky points, referrals, call-ins, etc. But the fastest growing source of leads is the Internet.

Where your leads come from determines how they should follow up. Who they are and what they’re interested in should also determine the nuances of your follow up messages. That involves asking discovery questions, digging down to reasons and motivations that made them contact you and then tailoring your follow up to be relevant for them and for their interests. If they contacted you about your assisted facility, don’t send them information about your hospice services! But instead, you might want to follow up with a personal invitation to an event at your assisted living facility. If they’re interested in a 3 bedroom home, don’t send them a discount flyer for a studio apartment.

Often times your web leads indicate FOR you who they are. For example, a lead who downloads an article on “Ways to talk to your aging parents about assisted living options”, is probably the child of an aging parent.

2. Follow up should be consistent and quick! The longer it takes to do follow up, the lower statistically the likelihood is that you will actually do it.

Also, you just read that if you contact web inquiry within 5 minutes of their contact with you, you are 100 times more likely to reach them, engage them and sell to them. Don’t sit on your Internet leads for any length of time.

3. Follow up should have a reason and a goal or objective and a definite call to action. Don’t just call to say “I’m following up”. You know how that makes you feel when someone does that to you. It’s a dead giveaway that they don’t have anything of value to tell you.

Have a reason to call. Invite them to an event, or dinner. or movie or give them some information about something they might find interesting (like a new resident who was also a decorated vet just like them or perhaps someone originally from the same home town). Set up a nice lunch to introduce them to one another. You might also ask just a couple of “quick questions”. Those questions usually start with “I’m curious to hear what you think of…” People love to share their opinions.

You can also start the conversation off with something you talked about last time (“how is your Aunt Margaret doing”…if they told you before that their Aunt wasn’t feeling well.) Engage them in friendly conversation. People buy from friends…not sales people. Along with your “reason” to call, also have a defined objective and a call to action for the next step. Ideally, that next step should be agreed on before you get off the call.

4. Follow up should be personal.
Nobody likes canned, generic follow up emails – like they were sent to 50,000 people. Personalize your emails – ask about their dog, Rover, or mention that you were thinking of them when you saw their favorite flower at the grocery store. You might want to refer to something you discussed in your last conversation. If you’ve asked questions before and made notes about your conversation, making subsequent calls or emails personal will be much easier.

5. Follow up paths should be standardized and automated!
The problem with leaving follow up to an individual is that you are going to get very different results. Standardizing and automating follow up allows your top performer – newbie (with a little training) to follow the same methods and get the same results. Follow up should be automated to avoid “oh shoot” moments. Let technology do the follow up for you.

6. Follow up should be pre-planned (not haphazard or subjective or left to person’s memory). You wouldn’t get in your car and start driving without having a roadmap or destination right? Same thing applies to follow up. You know where you’re going,
you’ve thought through the steps ahead of time (so you’re not winging it) and even if you hit a detour or roadblock, you can get around it and get back on the path you’ve defined.

You want your team’s follow up to be strategic, intentional and planned. The time to think about follow up steps is NOT when they need to do it. That’s just stressful and unproductive – and it also lessens the likelihood that it will get done. And don’t forget your past/current clients and referral sources! If you provide a service that people need repeatedly – like home health or services – don’t neglect to follow up with your past clients. They represent future business.

The tips I gave you are practical and make common sense. You might even say they are simple. But honestly, we know that they are easier to talk about than they are to do. So is there a secret to great, effective, consistent, bullet-proof follow up? And if so, what is it? The secret is to plan out your follow up paths and goals and messages in advance and then automate them. You can do that on paper or spreadsheets or you can use the set it and forget it follow up TaskoMatics built into Advantage.

Each TaskoMatic is strategic and intentionally designed for a different type of lead and has a specific goal. Maybe it’s for a web lead and the goal is to get them on the phone for discovery. A TaskoMatic allows you to prebuild follow up sequences of activities, calls, emails, notes, and other actions that move your prospects towards the goal. These actions can be strategically assigned to different people to do different things and use intentionally relevant messages. I love it when technology serves as your assistant, don’t you?! By automating your systems, you can focus on the high value activities (relationships that generate revenue) and let your technology “take care” of your automated tasks.

So although FOLLOW UP is our number 1 failure, I’ve got good news for you! Follow up failure may be expensive, is definitely unnecessary but the good news is, it’s fixable! You can go from Follow Up Failure to Follow Up FABULOUS. And your follow up will have FABULOUS results on your revenue!

Here’s to FABULOUS Follow Up!

Mona Hilton