More Effective – and Efficient – Follow Up

Ever feel like you don’t have enough time for follow up on the leads you generate? You’re not alone. Perhaps 70% of business owners feel the same way.

It’s understandable – you feel “stuck” in day to day operations, i.e. putting out fires.

But if you ever hope to grow your business beyond where it is now… you need to follow up… follow up relentlessly. This doesn’t mean bothering people… or annoying them.

You can turn a “maybe” into a “yes” when you make sure all your messages do this one thing. It also helps to use a system for follow up – and that doesn’t mean it won’t sound genuine.

We get into detail on that, as well as…

  • The best channels for follow up (including one you’d never think of) – and what to say
  • A strategy for follow up for busy entrepreneurs that takes two hours per month
  • The biggest missteps in building business relationships
  • How to have a one-on-one conversation with thousands of prospects
  • And more

Listen now…

Mentioned in this episode:

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Transcript

Steve Gordon: Welcome to the Unstoppable CEO Podcast. I’m your host, Steve Gordon and today we got a great episode for you. I am going to cover the last of the mindsets from the Inevitable Growth Scorecard. You can follow along with all of the mindsets and get your own growth score at thegrowthscore.com, that’s thegrowthscore.com. And when you go there, you’ll be able to score yourself on all eight of these areas that we’ve talked about. Everything from Who’s your who to the target 100 advantage to clear value, ideas that sell, collaboration advantage, infinite opportunity, relentless lead generation, and today, we’re talking about relentless follow up.

And you’ll be able to go there, you’ll be able to get your score in each of those areas. And not only get your score of where you think you are now, but where you’d like to be in each of those areas, maybe in 90 days, or six months or a year. And when you have both of those numbers, it’ll really show you where to focus your energy and where to focus your attention to improve your marketing and improve the growth of your business. And so really, that’s what it is. It’s a focusing tool.

Relentless Follow Up

Alright, so let’s talk about relentless follow up. We’ve kind of broken down the way that people tend to think about follow up in four ways. And I want to go through each of those and touch on some of the things that, you know, if you’re in kind of that mindset, you know, if you’re in one of these mindsets, where you relate to it, how you get from there to kind of the next level and how you make progress from that point. So the first of these is that you’re just so busy with the day to day stress of your business that you never have enough time to follow up.

And this is probably something that describes, I don’t know, somewhere in the neighborhood of 60 70% of businesses and business owners, that you’re just, you’re so pulled into the operations of your business day to day that, you know, that follow up doesn’t happen. And, you know, I’ve been there. I get it. And so don’t take this as any form of criticism at all. It’s just important to know where you are and then understand where you want to go. And, you know, all I can tell you is if you’re in that position that one of the easiest ways to increase your results and to increase the growth in your business is to begin to follow up better, you know?

You’re probably creating opportunity for yourself but because it slips through the cracks, or, you know, maybe you’re only really focused on the potential clients who decide to work with you right away, but the ones who express some interest, even if it’s modest interest or, you know, they kind of come into your world, but they don’t become clients right away, you may not have a very effective or any way, frankly, for staying in touch with them. And, you know, people get uncomfortable around follow up.

There are really a few reasons that people don’t follow up the way that they should. One is that it’s frankly, just an awful lot of work sometimes. There’s a lot to keep track of to figure out who to follow up with and when to follow up with them and how to follow up with them. And then each of those things creates more stress in the whole process, you know? Should you follow up once a week or once a month? And when you do follow up, what do you say? How do you do it is? Does it need to be an email? Should it be a phone call? Should it be a LinkedIn message?

All of these open questions end up, you know, getting people in the position where they just freeze and they don’t do the follow up that they need to be doing. And everybody knows that you need to do it. I mean, even when I wasn’t doing it very effectively, very early in my career, I knew I needed to do it. I just didn’t know how to go about it. I didn’t have a system for it. And we’ll talk about some of that as we go through the rest of the episode. All right, so the second of these mindsets is that you know that follow up is important but you’re just not sure what you should say, when to follow up and do it in a way that you don’t annoy prospects.

And so, you know, that’s that second part of what we just talked about is that it’s one thing to know that you should do it, but then to understand, well, what’s the most effective way to follow up and how do I do this for the long haul, you know, so that the potential client that maybe expressed some interest here in the last week, you know, maybe I need to stay in touch with them for a year or two years, or three years or five years before they become a client. You know, we just brought on a couple of new clients who I know have been in our world and I’ve been following up with them for about eight years. And you can’t do that by accident. It won’t happen.

Systemize Your Follow Up

That’s the reason that they now are clients is because we’ve got a very systematic approach to follow up. And we’ve solved that question of when do I do it? How often do I do it? And solved the big question of what do I say? You know, and so if you’re at this point where you know you need to be doing it, but you’re sort of frozen because you’re not sure how to go about any of it, the good news is, that’s a fairly easy thing to solve. You know, if you’re at that point where you know, you need to do it, it’s just a matter of we, you know, we either need to get some skills in place for you to do it yourself, or probably the better solution is you need to get a team in place.

And whether that’s inside team or an outside team, you need to get a team in place and a system in place to handle the follow up. And when you do, boy oh boy, that problem’s solved and now you don’t have to worry about it anymore. And, you know, I said on the last of these episodes talking about the scorecard, one of the most powerful things that I’ve ever done in businesses I got to the point where for our follow up, the bulk of our follow up, which most of it happens by dripping out podcast episodes through email.

You know, somebody comes into our world, maybe they’ve gotten one of my books, they’ve been referred to the podcast, they get on our email list and every week, I know that I’m going to be in front of that person through email. And the way that I’m going to do that is I’m going to send them a podcast episode. And the reason that that works so well is that, you know, I’m busy.

I got a full plate. So all I’ve got to do is spend about somewhere between two to four hours a month doing podcast interviews or recording solo episodes like this. And I don’t have to go anywhere to do it. I don’t have to, you know, I, when I used to do networking, I’d have to put a suit on and drive across town and, you know, it was a whole production. I don’t have to do any of that. So it’s very easy for me to execute. I like doing it. You know, I like doing this part of it. And so, you know, from that standpoint, I’m motivated to do it.

And then once I’m done with this part and I, you know, hit stop on the recording, it goes to the team. And I’ve got a great team, really talented people, and they take this and they turn it into all of the other follow up. They turn it into the email that goes out, the blog post goes on the website, they turn it into social media posts, they get it on social media, you know? And so all of that stuff happens and largely happens without me. And so, you know, if you’re struggling with some of that, you know, the good news is that it really is a relatively easy thing to solve.

Don’t make it more complicated than it is. The hard part there, probably one of the more difficult parts is figuring out well, what am I going to use as a follow up tool? Because you don’t want to be that, hey, I’m just checking in guy. You know, nobody wants to be that and nobody wants to hear from you around that. You know, you want to show up and be valuable in your follow up. That is key. You’ve got to be relevant and valuable and consistent. And, you know, and that’s one of the big hurdles to overcome.

But once you do it, once you get that system in place and you can be consistent and you figured out, here’s how I’m going to be relevant, here’s how I’m going to come up with content to use to follow up with, you know, on a weekly or bi-weekly basis, then it all becomes very easy. And it’s much easier to do now than it has ever been in the past. You know, I used to do this back before the internet was much of a thing. The sales coach I had at the time taught us to turn our newspaper into Swiss cheese.

And this is back when you still got, you know, a physical newspaper. And you’d sit there and you look at the local paper and if there was a mention of somebody in your network in the business section, or the time I was down in West Palm Beach, they had the society pages and, you know, if there was a charity fundraiser or something, you’d cut out pictures of the people that you knew and photocopy them and send them off as a way to nurture those relationships.

And, you know, the interesting thing about that is I always felt like doing that never really added much value, didn’t really do much to demonstrate my expertise, it certainly did put me back in front of someone and, you know, and say, Hey, I’m paying attention to what you’re doing. Or if I sent him an article that I thought would be interesting, you know, for them. You know, that was another thing that we did back then.

All of that stuff’s great. It takes a ton of time and a ton of effort to do that. And it’s very hard to scale that up. And frankly, that’s why most people don’t do it. They just don’t have the time. We’re all too busy. So the solution that I found for that is, you know, is to use podcast interviews. Now, I didn’t always do that. There’s about a four year period in this business where I got up every day and I wrote an email to everybody in our database. I wrote, you know, one daily email that went out to our list. It was sort of a mini article, one thought one idea. And people loved it. I get notes back.

Oh, yeah, I always look forward to your email in the morning. And it was great, but it was a heck of a lot of effort. And, you know, I finally after four years, it felt like I kind of covered everything that I wanted to cover. And I was, I found I was repeating myself a lot. And not that it’s necessarily bad to do in your marketing to repeat yourself, it’s necessary, but I was losing the excitement for that.

And so, you know, around that time, I decided to pivot and begin doing the, you know, this podcast. And the great thing about the podcast is it’s collaborative. So instead of it being something where I’ve got to sit down and do it alone, you know, unless I’m doing a solo episode like this, but most of our episodes are interviews. You know, if it’s an interview, it’s an appointment. And so I’m going to show up for that. I’m never going to miss, You know, if it’s on the calendar, unless there’s some kind of emergency, I’m just not going to miss that.

And so it’s going to get recorded on time. I’ve got the team and the systems in place to do all the other work that happens around that. And so all I got to do show up and talk. And because of that, I can be really consistent with it. And consistency is key in your follow up. You know, one of the things we’re doing with this follow up is we’re taking people that aren’t ready to do business with us yet but are likely to do business with somebody like us in the future. And we are creating familiarity by showing up on a regular basis. And, you know, familiarity tends to breed trust.

Up Close And Personal With Countless Prospects

The more you know someone, often the more you trust them. And so you need to show up consistently, you need to show up frequently. You can’t, you know, you can’t have follow up that shows up, you know, for four or five weeks in a row and then goes dark for six months. It doesn’t work. And so you’ve got to find a way to do it that’s easy for you. One of the things I like about podcasts is that the burden of content is actually on the guest. All I’ve got to do is show up and be prepared to have a conversation. And I’m pretty much always prepared to have a conversation.

And so it’s easy to do. I don’t do a lot of prep for any of the interviews. You know, we take a few minutes beforehand and get to know each other if we haven’t met before. And we talk a little bit about what direction we want to go in for the conversation. And then we hit record and off we go. And the magic of that is that if you’re just curious, if you just show up and you’re curious and you ask questions when they say something, you don’t have to do any prep.

You don’t have to do any hard work. And it actually comes out really, really good. One of the things that we see again and again in the comments, in the reviews on iTunes for this podcast and in the emails that I get from listeners is that, you know, that I’ll ask the question that they were hoping would be asked. And that’s not because I’ve done, you know, hours of research in preparation, it’s just that I’m listening and I’m curious. I want to learn more about the other person.

And so that makes this really sustainable and I think that’s key. You know, we get asked all the time by clients who are coming to us to have us produce their podcasts for them and to kind of set up their whole marketing system to, you know, which models what we do. And, you know, they always ask, Well, you know, do I need to have unique questions for each guest? Or, you know, how much time should I allocate beforehand to prepare? And what we tell them is like, if that’s the way you’re going to go about it, that’s great and it’s admirable.

You should be lauded for that. But I’ll tell you, the wheels are going to come off the bus pretty quickly because you’re not gonna have time. And so I guess, maybe it’s my technical background but I’m a big believer that there, if you come up with a solution that can’t be implemented, you haven’t come up with a solution. And when we’re talking about, you know, you as an entrepreneur, if you come up with a solution that takes too much of your time and energy and effort, you’re not going to execute it.

So it doesn’t matter how good the system is, or how cool it is, you know, or how many other people are doing it. If it’s not one that you can implement, then it might as well not exist for you. So it’s important that you think about, like, how am I going to build a system around coming up with how to follow up with what to say, coming up with stuff that’s going to be relevant and interesting and valuable for the people that I’m trying to stay in touch with and build a relationship with.

Because ultimately, that’s what you’re doing. I mean, that’s the purpose of marketing is to build a relationship with someone such that by the time they’re ready to buy, they don’t want to do business with anyone else. I just think it’s so much easier when you think in terms of individual people on the other end of this. Not just random leads, you know, not just numbers, but real people. And they’re real people that you want to be in a relationship with.

And now work back from that and say, Okay, well, I want to be in a relationship with a lot of people so I need some systems around that. Nothing wrong with having systems around relationship development. The very best relationship builders in the world have systems for how they do it, and you need that same kind of system for yourself. Alright, so the third kind of way of thinking around follow up that we see a lot is it sounds something like this, you focus on your, you focus follow up on your most important clients, your community relationships and you’re in touch with them several times a year.

And I know just so many business owners who kind of built up their book of business and they just make sure that they’ve got a few touches throughout the year. You know, maybe there’s that one event that you do that a client appreciation event or the community appreciation event. Maybe, you know, there are a few key social events, kind of business and social events that you participate in every year.

And as you do that, you’re you know, you’re staying in touch with those key relationships. Maybe with your very best relationships, you’re making sure you’re going out to lunch with them once a quarter or something like that. Nothing wrong with any of that. It’s not particularly scalable. It takes a lot of time to do it that way and you’re not going to cover a large number of people but, you know, but in certain businesses that’s certainly the case. And I see this a lot of time with people, like I said, who have built up a pretty good book of business and they’re just sort of riding it. And again, nothing wrong with that.

Be There When They’re Ready

Alright, so the last one of these mindsets, and this is what we observe in the folks who are getting the best results who are at a place where their business is really highly scalable and highly leverageable where they’re using their time very effectively. They kind of look at it like this. They, you know, the way they look at it is that they know that you can’t control when a prospect buys. And they’ve set up a system for following up valuably, frequently and consistently for the long term.

And the key insights, there are number one, you can’t control when the prospect buys, you know? A lot of that, hey, I’m just checking in kind of follow up is done when you’re hoping that you can engage them in a conversation and convince them to buy now. But the truth of the matter is, you rarely can do that. And rarely do good clients come from that kind of convincing. And so, you know, you want to be in a position where, you know, like we talked about in the last episode in this series, you’re relentlessly generating leads so that you’ve always got a healthy flow of new people in and enough of those will convert right away to satisfy your needs.

And at the same time, you’re building this large database of people who have an interest but aren’t ready to do business yet. And as you build that up, you know, I call it the pool of prospects, you’re building this pool of prospects that might be, might start off small but over time it grows and grows and grows. It could grow to hundreds or thousands or 10s of thousands of people that you’re staying in touch with on a regular basis.

And that you’re finding a way to show up consistently in their lives. I would recommend weekly or every other week at a minimum. And you’re showing up and being valuable. You’re being useful. You’re showing up in a way that’s interesting. And when you do all of that, now you’re welcomed in. You’re not being a pest saying, Hey, I’m just checking in, you’re showing up and you’re bringing value.

You’re, you know, if you’re doing a podcast, you’re showing up and you’re saying, hey, I’ve got relationships with these experts that you might really benefit from, you know, hearing what they have to say. So here’s a podcast episode and it’s absolutely free and you can listen to it whenever you want, you know? And even if they don’t listen to every one of those episodes, if you’re showing up in their email inbox and saying, hey, I’ve got a new interview with somebody that I think you really would appreciate hearing from, you’re gonna get credit for that. And over time that credit accrues.

And the other great thing about it, and this is one of the things that I think magical about podcasts and hard to do and other mediums, but there’s power in the human voice. You’re listening to me right now. You’re hearing my voice. The experience you’re having is almost as if we’re in conversation one on one. Not quite, but almost as if. Chances are you’re either listening to this alone in your car driving somewhere, or you’re listening to it with your, with, you know, headphones or earbuds in.

And that’s a pretty intimate sort of experience that we’re having right now, you know? And chances are we’ve never met. We’ve never spoken. And if you think about getting yourself in that sort of a position with all of the people that you want to do business with, where you’re in their ear, literally, you’re in their ear when they’re taking a walk, or they’re at a coffee shop doing some work, or they are at the gym, you know? Or you’re sitting there riding with them, entertaining them in the car. It’s a powerful place to be.

And it’s a place that, frankly, most of your competitors would never think to show up. So here you are, you’re kind of, you know, under the radar, passively building this relationship with everybody that comes into your world. And you’re doing it every week, every other week, whatever it is, and you’re showing up and you’re deepening that relationship. What happens then is that people begin to show up to initial meetings with you feeling like your best friends and you’ve never met them. They’ll show up and be able to repeat stories that you’ve told on your podcast.

And you don’t know who this person is other than they’re in your world and, you know, they booked an appointment with you. And it really works in a very interesting way to, right at the end, shorten the sales cycle and eliminate all competition, you know? And the reason it eliminates competition is because you’ve got the relationship, they don’t. And so when you begin thinking about how you’re going to approach your follow up, the folks who do this at a very high level, business owners that do this at a very high level, they’re all thinking about how can I play the long game.

Relentless and Sustained

You know, like, I’m going to create a follow up system so that I’m going to be in touch consistently with the people I want to be in touch with, not just for 90 days, but for two years, for five years, for 10 years. You know, like with this podcast, when I started this podcast in 2017, the commitment that I made to myself was, for a decade that I was going to create a media asset that was going to exist for a decade, that I was going to create subscribers, then in January of 2017, that would still be listening in January of 2027.

And that it would feed my business, all of that follow up. You know, we’re doing the relentless lead generation, like I talked about in the last episode in this series, and we’re filling that pool of prospects. Some of them are ready to work with us right away. It’s great. We love that. And then most, the vast majority aren’t ready yet. And that’s okay because when you’re ready, we’re here. And we’re staying in touch. We’re staying in front of you. We’re trying to be valuable. We’re trying to be relevant. And we’re trying to build a relationship. And that’s the system that you need in place.

And this is, for me, this is the key move in business. So if you’re really struggling with marketing, if you’ve got no leads coming in and no real relationships, then you need to start with lead generation. But if you’ve got that stack of business cards that you collected at the last trade show that you went to and it’s been floating around to the bottom of your briefcase and nothing’s happened with them, or you’ve got the stack in the back of the desk drawer.

For me, it was the desk drawer, top desk drawer on the left, the far back left corner is where leads went to die early on in my career, and it’s embarrassing, you know? But that’s the, you know, the way that it happened because I didn’t know what to do with them. And then, you know, I got educated on marketing and then I, you know, further developed and got systems and a team in place to support me. And now I don’t have that issue. I have what I call a default move.

Somebody comes into our world, they’re going to get followed up with, you know, by default with our weekly podcast email and I don’t have to think about it. I know that that’s gonna happen. Now, we may follow up in other ways based on what they do, but I know at a very minimum, that they’re not going to go without being followed up with. So you want to get to that point because if you’ve got any number of unconverted leads, you can almost immediately begin to reinvigorate those relationships and begin to develop business, you know?

They’ve already maybe expressed some interest but you’ve dropped the ball on following up. Well, you can pick that back up and you can create some opportunity for yourself fairly quickly. I think it is the, kind of the killer move. You need to have follow up in place because once you do, everything else becomes easier. You don’t need quite so many leads coming in the door because you got this pool of prospects. And out of that pool, there are new clients maturing all the time, you know? So your pipeline can kind of stay full, it just makes everything so much easier.

So as you might be able to tell, I’m a big big believer in and proponent of having great follow up. And I think fitting that this is kind of the last of these mindsets because I think it really is kind of the keystone that holds the whole system together. And so, if you haven’t gone and gotten your growth score, I really recommend you do it.It will help you focus on the right areas within your business. You know, you’ll see where you feel like maybe you’re not as strong, and you’ll see the areas where you are really strong right now.

And you’ll be able to make some decisions about which areas you want to really be strong in in maybe 90 days or six months or a year, and look at, then at the gap between the two, between where you are today and where you want to be. And that’ll really show you where to focus your energy and your attention right now so that you can improve in those areas. And so, go get it. It’s at thegrowthscore.com, thegrowthscore.com. And I really do hope it helps you make some great progress on growing your business this year. Until next time, stay unstoppable.