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In my last blog, I touched on the importance of activating your membership to make the most out of business groups or associations you belong to. Making genuine connections, forming strategic alliances, and setting clear intentions are all important context for this next piece. Let’s talk about one of the largest missed opportunities in business, follow-up. 

According to Harvard Business Review, selling to a new client costs five to 25 times more than to an existing client. While referrals and repeat business are ideal, they can’t be the only focus for your organization. It’s important for a business leader to take the time to build brand awareness outside of your immediate circle for not only yourself, but your team.

Business is all about relationships, but more importantly trust. Trust isn’t built in a day or a single interaction. Chances of engaging new business (especially for high value products or services) on the first interaction with your prospects are slim. In fact, many studies indicate that only 2% of sales occur when two parties meet for the first time.

The first step in developing a successful sales funnel is to capture your leads. This isn’t groundbreaking information and it’s no surprise that marketers are amazing list generators. Whether it’s formed from attendance at networking events, conferences or various other lead generation tactics. 

The true problem lies within the ability to thoroughly and systematically follow-up with your leads. The quote, “the fortune is in the follow-up” exists for good reason. Without a strategic follow-up strategy, these events, conferences and other list gathering activities are a complete waste of time, resources and money.

Developing a Systematic Approach

You are back at the office after your latest networking event with a stack of business cards. Now what? Start with adding the contacts (particularly the ones of most relevance and interest) to your database or CRM tool. Another way to stay top of mind is to add these select individuals to your professional social networks. 

Remember to always follow the best practice of sending a personalized message along with your request to join their network to give context to your invitation. Unsolicited invitations on professional networks such as LinkedIn are more likely to be rejected.

Whether you send a message on LinkedIn or follow-up with an email, find an opportunity to connect with your new connection in-person, even with something as simple as grabbing a quick coffee to learn more about them and explore opportunities to work together.

Another good option is to invite them to an event your organization is hosting or to attend as your guest to a community event you will be attending. Finally, find ways you can add value to them or their organization by connecting them to others, sending them a link to a relevant article or blog, or sharing relevant business intelligence with them.

After each touchpoint, diarize a future follow up. Keep the ball in your court to ensure you don’t lose contact with the lead. Ideally you map out a series of future follow up touch points, and always schedule at least the next one into the CRM to ensure the contact remain part of your active network and lead generation funnel.

The art of the follow-up is about quality, not quantity.

Authentic connections with your customers, employees, and community partners help build trust and loyalty. Incite works with organizations to identify opportunities to strengthen existing connections and leverage key influencers to build lasting relationships and sources of referral. Connect with us to learn more about how we can support your organization.

About The Author

As Founder and President of Incite, Ted brings over 25 years of strategic marketing and consulting experience to the table. His proven ability to engage in complex business strategy and multi-stakeholder environments has enabled him to help a diverse range of private and public sector clients with growth strategy, communications, strategic issues management and brand development.

About Incite

Incite is a marketing and strategy consulting firm specializing in growth, brand, and communications. From market expansion and brand development, to supporting post-merger integration and building internal engagement, Incite’s strategic approach helps clients to better understand their market, clearly articulate value, align organizational resources, and connect with key stakeholders to achieve success.

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