Clients are the lifeblood of your VA business. Whether you’re just starting out, or have been established for a while, you need clients. Many VAs will work at building a relationship with their existing clients – but it’s equally important that you learn how to effectively follow up with potential clients too, if you want to keep growing your client base.
I often hear from VAs who are saying they need more clients, but are struggling to find them. As a VA trainer, my first response is to ask them how many conversations they’re having with potential clients. To be fair, many of them are having initial discovery calls with potential clients, but nothing’s coming from those calls.
I then ask what they’re doing to follow up after those calls – and that’s where the real problem arises.
The reason they’re struggling is clear – they don’t know what to do after those calls. There’s no follow-up plan in place and the VA is unsure how to implement a follow-up plan, without looking desperate or spammy.
So how do you follow up with a potential client? Here’s my top 7 tips for mastering the art of the follow-up.
#1: Overcome your own limitations and fears
Many of those VAs who aren’t following up, are letting their own fears, insecurities and limitations run the show. They fear they’ll look desperate, spammy or needy, if they call the potential client back at a later date. They worry about how they’ll feel, if the potential client says no, and they assume the potential client isn’t interested at all, if they don’t immediately say yes and sign up with them.
These are all your limitations and fears – they’re not the facts of this situation.
There can be any number of reasons why a potential client hasn’t immediately signed up with you – and almost all of them don’t involve you at all. If they’ve initially expressed an interest (by having a conversation, filling out an enquiry form, or asking about your services and prices, for example) but aren’t yet ready to sign up, let them know you’ll be in touch again at a later date – and commit to following them up as agreed!
#2: Remember the power of 3
One simple follow-up strategy that was drummed into me by an awesome Sales and Marketing Coach, was this – make 3 phone calls per day. When you don’t have clients or you need to increase your client base, it’s an excellent strategy to follow, as it enables you to be both consistent and visible to potential clients.
For established VAs who are already servicing several clients, 3 calls a day would be too much. In this case, I’d still recommend you follow the power of three – by following up with at least 3 people each week.
#3: Be memorable with your follow up
There are various different methods of following up on potential clients – don’t just send an email. The key here is you want to be memorable to the potential client. Email may be the easiest way of contacting someone, and it feels a lot safer for you to email – but it’s not a great way to keep yourself at the forefront of your client’s mind.
Instead, pick up the phone and call them. Take the time to write and post a personalised, hand-written note, or send them articles of interest that illustrate how thoughtful you are to their specific needs and issues. Think outside the box and you’ll be remembered.
#4: Follow up more than once
You’re building a potential relationship, not just a sale, so make the effort! If you want to turn a potential client into a client, show them you care and are interested in having them as a client. But it’s also worth remembering that potential clients can get sidetracked and could simply forget to call you back. There’s any number of reasons why they haven’t got back to you – and the majority of those reasons may not even be related to you and your services.
However, clients also need time to make a decision. By staying in touch, you’re keeping yourself at the forefront of their mind and giving them time to decide. This is why you need to follow up with them several times, over a period of time. If you look at follow-up as your way of staying in touch and building a relationship, it then makes sense that you’ll contact them more than once – without it feeling salesy or spammy.
#5: Ask for the sale!
During your initial conversation or email exchange with a potential client, you’ll have asked for the sale (well, I’m hoping you did!). If they’re not ready to make a decision at that point though, you need to let them know what will happen next – such as you’ll contact them again or agree to a follow-up call on a set date. But at that next contact you still need to give them a clear indication of what you’d like them to do – i.e. ask them for the sale or if there’s anything further they need from you, to help make a decision!
#6: Give value
At every point of contact you need to be giving the potential client something of value. That doesn’t always have to be your time, insight and expertise though. It can be a link to a blog post that will benefit them in some way, answers to their questions, a previous copy of your newsletter, a referral, a connection or introduction – basically anything that will help your client, is of value to them.
#7: Have a strategy in place for your follow up
Finally, decide on a follow-up strategy that is relatively comfortable to you – and ensure you stick to it! Remembering the power of 3 is a good starting point, as it helps instill the habit of phoning clients, but also have a clear process in place for how follow-ups will look for you.
Here are ten follow-up strategies to get you started:
- You’ll personally telephone every initial enquiry, rather than email them.
- All follow ups will be in the form of handwritten thank you cards.
- Once a month you’ll email a pertinent article of interest to your potential clients.
- On all your sales calls, if a client hasn’t agreed to go ahead during that call, you’ll ensure you have a follow up call booked in, before you end that initial call.
- You’ll always send a thank you email within 24 hours of your call, where you list the pertinent points made during the call and let them know you’ll contact them in 7-10 day’s time, to follow up and see if they’ve made a decision.
- You’ll commit to monthly follow up calls with potential clients, even if it’s just to ask how things are going for them.
- Follow them on social media and comment and like their posts.
- Introduce them to someone who can benefit their company.
- Send them a postcard that summarises what you do and/or any offers you’ve got on at the moment.
- Ask them if they’re ready to work with you.
What are your thoughts around following up with potential clients? Do you have a follow-up strategy in place, or is it something you tend to avoid doing altogether? Has today’s blog post given you some new ideas – if so, what was the biggest takeaway for you? Leave your comments and thoughts on follow-up strategies, in the comments box below!