Don’t let your leads slip away

My father was recently telling me the story of how one day he decided to clean out his office. After being in real estate for well over a decade he had an enormous amount of paperwork in filing cabinets. Every time he went out to see a potential clients to do a quote, he would start up a new client file and he had hundreds if not thousands of these from over the years.

He was a very successful agent in his day he was often ranked in the the top 10% in his field in the state.

Now he was cleaning out all the old files from potential clients that had never converted to business or that had chosen to go with another company. As he continued to clean out file after file after file the pile slowly got higher and higher until it was almost taller than him.

He started to contemplate this pile of old files and he thought that it represented a tower of mediocrity. Equating to hundreds of thousands of dollars in business that he had let slip away.

I wonder how many of us have our own tower of mediocrity buried in in-trays, in filing cabinets or in our computer database. A pile of missed opportunities because we don’t follow up or stay in touch well enough or for a million other reasons that so many potential opportunities can slip through our fingers.

Relationships really are one of the simplest things we can learn to do well in business. Yes they take effort but they don’t cost us anything. We can spend thousands of dollars on marketing and advertising and branding that gets us nowhere. The statistics tell us that it’s 5 to 8 times cheaper to keep an existing client than to try and market to new ones and yet we continue to do this.

When all we need to do is learn to connect and build strong lasting relationships. To be consistent and stay in touch regularly. I urge you to take a look through your pile of opportunities and turn it from mediocrity into excellence by picking up the phone and following up. By booking a time to catch up face to face and connect with past clients and new ones.

I can’t emphasise strongly enough how crucial this final stage is in a relationship ‘following up’. During the course of my career I encountered countless sales people who lay all the groundwork, dotting all the ‘i’s and crossing all the ‘t’s…up until this very point and then they drop the ball and all their work goes to waste: what a shame.

Through my experience in coaching and working with a lot of different types of people I noticed that there was a massive gap in understanding this area. A lot of people assume that it’s enough to ‘get on well’ and have one or two ‘successful meetings’ with a new contact to ‘cement the relationship’ and that they don’t need to follow up at all.

They assume that their new client will call them as soon as they are ready to engage their product or service. Perhaps in a few rare instances this may be true – but for the most part those who do not follow up are creating a rod for their own back because they are not likely to hear from their potential new client again.

Usually what happens is that while sales person #1 has been resting on their laurels, ten of their hungriest competitors have probably been ‘dating’ the prospect, catching up with them and following up, making them feel special and making it clear to them that they actually want (and value) their business. You need to pick up the phone and follow up with your prospects…or risk them becoming someone else’s client.

Now to ensure you remember to follow up, the most important asset you can have is your database. Over time you can build up the most amazing network of companies, contacts and clients but for some reason ‘the D word’ is almost as dreaded as ‘the P word’ (prospecting) and yet you cannot possibly hope to sustain long-term business growth without both of these two essential elements working efficiently.

Sometimes the danger with building such a comprehensive database is that when all that information is inside your computer on a software program instead of immediately visual it can get lost and just become an online version of the yellow pages directory.

So make sure that whatever system you choose, you have a structure around how you’re actually going to use it. Some suggestions for keeping it real by keeping it visible could be:

  • creating a color printout of your ‘Top 10’ contacts every week and sticking it up in your line of sight;
  • enter your top 50 to 100 contacts into your mobile phone to call when you’re on the road;
  • adding an icon link on your Desktop to take you straight through to your Database;
  • setting your Database to automatically open when you start up your computer;
  • making sure that any appointments for meet ups, catch ups and follow ups are entered into your diary (with alarms set if using an electronic system);

Don’t fall into the trap of relying too heavily on technology to do your job for you, because at the end of the day people use technology…but they build relationships with people. Although it’s great to send out emails and newsletters you should still be making the effort to come into direct personal contact with the people you meet face to face. This way your tower of mediocrity will instead be a tower of excellence.

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Kirsty Spraggon

Kirsty Spraggon is a relationship building expert that assists you to increase, your sales, networks and connections for life & business success. Her show @kirstytv has just hit 100,000 views on youtube. For more information visit kirstyspraggon.com