How to Follow-Up Without Being a Pest

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A couple of weeks ago, I got the umpteenth call from a sales rep who’s been hounding me since we chatted at a conference seven months ago. I’m actually interested in working with her firm. But her bi-weekly “just checking in” calls are, frankly, starting to annoy me.

I know what she’s trying to do. She’s trying to stay in touch with a prospect (me) who has indicated an interest in her services.

Hey, that’s exactly what I teach and help my clients to do!

But she’s going about it the wrong way. Instead of building the relationship, she’s becoming a pest. (She actually said to me once, “I’m sorry for being a pest, but…”)

The main problem with her approach is that she’s becoming someone I want to avoid rather than someone I want to do business with. And if you’re following-up with prospects, that’s exactly the impression you don’t want to make!

So how do you stay in touch with prospects so you don’t seem like a pest and, instead, become someone they actually look forward to hearing from?

Here are some ideas:

  • Don’t sell; position. Clients want to work with professionals they know, like and trust. So your follow-up messages should consistently position you a likeable, knowledgeable expert – someone who is really, really good at what they do. When you position well, you don’t have to sell. (Hey, that’s a great rhyme. I’ll have to remember to copyright
  • Add value. When calling or emailing to follow-up with a prospect, think of a way to share a slice of your expertise. You could provide a tip, link to a helpful article, or share a client success story.
  • Publish an e-newsletter. I know what you’re thinking. In this world of blogs and social media, e-newsletters are passé. That may be true. But they’re still a great way to stay in touch with prospects. Many of my clients today were once just subscribers to my e-newsletter.
  • Use social media. Connect, follow, like, friend – whatever – with all your prospects. Pay attention to their social media updates. Respond, comment, re-tweet, get involved. For me, social media has revolutionized the way I stay in touch with prospects.
  • Google alerts. I learned this trick from Jill Konrath, author of SNAP Selling. Set up Google alerts for all your prospects. That way, you’ll be alerted whenever there’s news about a prospect’s business… news you can use to tailor your follow-up messages.
  • Make an invitation. When I was doing a lot of corporate work, I used to invite clients to free 20-minute “lunch and learn” sessions, which I conducted via teleconference. I’d get only three or four attendees per session, but they were often very good prospects, many of whom eventually became clients.

Those are a few ideas. I’m sure you could brainstorm many other ways to stay in touch with prospects without being a pest.

And that reminds me…

I got a follow-up email just last week from a PR consultant I was speaking with earlier this year. She asked me how my social media outreach was doing, and offered a practical tip – one I hadn’t thought of before – for getting better results. She didn’t push for a meeting or even a response. She simply touched base and added value.

Did she come across as a pest? Not at all.

Will I look forward to hearing from her again? Probably.

Will I think of her first when I need PR advice or help? Likely.

She’s making a completely different impression on me than the sales rep who has been calling me every other week.

Something to think about the next time you follow-up with a prospect.

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