Following up with prospects – Part 1 of 3: Who should you follow up with?
If you have all the appointments you need – don’t read my next three posts – because they will focus entirely on following up with prospects to increase telephone conversion rates and don’t have enough appointments.
At a recent healthcare telephone training workshop, a participant asked me: “How can I know who to follow up and who to let go? How often should I follow up? How long should I follow up?”
Those are great questions! I’ll answer them one by one for you, as I answered them for her.
If you had 1-hour a day to follow up with prospects, which ones would you call?
A good follow up prospect will have the following characteristics:
- the financial resources to purchase our product: If you used the our proven system to conduct your telephone call, you would know whether your prospect could afford the procedure, because you would have asked them.
- the authority to make a purchase decision: At the very first phone call, you would have asked the prospect if anyone else was involved in making this decision. If you didn’t, it may be hard for you to know whether what was holding them back was you, them, or someone else. Of course, if you probed for objections during the call, you’d know this.
- A genuine emotional desire for your product or service: If, during the call, you had probed for dominant buying motives, past motivating incidents, and future motivating events… you’d know if the prospect really wanted what you offered, or was just ‘educating themselves’.
- Plans to make a purchase in the near future: If you had used a timing trial close during the phone call (i.e. “assuming you were found suitable for this procedure, and we could address your concerns, when do you want to have this procedure?”) you would know this. Furthermore, if you had detected a future motivating event, you would know that this prospect had a deadline that they wanted to have the procedure by. Clearly, this information would help you know when the prospect was considering purchasing.
- The prospect was actively looking when they found you: If the prospect came to you by the internet, subscribed to your newsletter, attended a patient seminar, or had attended previous consultations before yours, they it is very likely they are more serious than those who just saw an ad on TV or a newspaper advertisement that offered money off a procedure. That’s just one of the reasons why it is so essential to ask the question: “where did you hear about us?” and “what prompted you to call us?” at the first phone call.
- The prospect was referred by a friend or family member: Referrals often close at a higher rate than TV, radio, print or even internet leads.
It’s tempting to follow-up only with nice people and ignore the people you don’t like
You’ll notice that my criteria leaves out the prospect’s personality. I often hear someone I’m training tell me a prospect was “nice”. “Nice?” I ask while I think to myself: “Are they nice enough to book an appointment with you today?”
Importantly, the key to knowing who to follow up, and who to leave to their own devices, is answered on the first phone call, not after the consultation, and certainly not from your gut feel.
This is one of the reasons I love automated email follow-up marketing – it isn’t coloured by emotion!
I don’t mean to sound flippant, but a prospect’s personality or declared intention of fidelity is seldom any indication as to whether the prospect will sign where the line is dotted.
We’ve all had nice people lie to us, and we’ve all had people we didn’t like, buy from us
At the healthcare telephone training workshops I deliver, I offer loads of qualifying questions that participants can use on the phone and at the consultation, to determine which of their prospects are serious and which ones are not.
Knowing objective information about prospects saves salespeople uncountable hours of wasted effort that they could be applying to higher opportunity prospects.
If you can answer the above questions in a way that would lead you to think that the prospect is qualified to follow up with, then the prospect should be tagged as “hot” in your database and serious follow-up should ensue. If not, stop hoping your ship will come in and move on.