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Small Business Owners: How to Follow Up With Prospects and Customers

Posted by Rieva Lesonsky

Feb 5, 2013 8:00:00 AM

working capital, small business loanBy Rieva Lesonsky

Whether you’ve just had your first meeting with a new client or are trying to close a big deal (the one that could solve your working capital issue) that’s taking what seems like forever, it’s important to know how to follow up without looking desperate or being annoying. Bank lenders are used to small business owners calling and checking on their small business loan application, but prospects and customers may be turned off if you’re too persistent. Fortunately, there are ways to be sincere and still get your message across about how much you want their business.

  • How did we do? It’s perfectly acceptable and normal to send a quick card or email asking how your meeting went or whether the customer was satisfied with your service. Just like bigger companies email surveys to follow up, you can create your own simple survey asking about the customer’s experience and any improvements the customer would suggest. Following up and asking for a review shows you care and can help you sell the customer on additional services or products.
  • Make it personal. Make it a point to ask something personal during your meeting that you can refer to the next time you make contact. Did the person have a trip overseas planned in the near future, a favorite sports team represented in their office, or maybe a sick child at home? “Can you believe that game on Sunday?” Inquiring about something personal that was discussed shows you were paying attention and are a sincere, caring person.
  • Send a thank-you. Send a thank-you card or thank-you email after your meeting or a purchase and include some further information that would be of interest to the customer or that helps make your case. For example, you could enclose or attach a new study that came out or an article you found promoting your approach.
  • Any questions? Ask if they have any questions about your meeting or anything they may have thought of afterwards. Then don’t delay: Get the answers to them while your business is still fresh in their minds.
  • Address your competitors. Ask if they’re shopping around for a better deal. See if you can find out what specific competitors they’re considering, and let them know exactly what your business offers that these companies don’t. Finally, ask to have a chance to meet or beat the other company’s offer.
  • Send a different idea. If you think they were not totally sold on your business or the package you offered, send an alternative or a scaled-down version of what you discussed. You could also suggest an introductory offer or trial period.

Even if you don’t get the business this time around, following up with prospects and clients helps your business stay memorable and relevant for a future opportunity. 

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Follow Rieva at Twitter.com/Rieva and visit her website, SmallBizDaily.com, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva’s free TrendCast reports.

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Topics: small business loan, working capital

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