EP 42: 5 Non-Closing Reasons to Follow Up
Kelly: So welcome back to another episode of Thrive. I do want to point out that someone recently called out the fact that I have traded in my wine rack in the background for a yoga mat and a meditation pillow. So thank you for noticing my background and the things that are changing in my life, everyone. So my first repeat guest on the show today is Dan Morris of Mindracer Consulting in New York City and that's B2B sales consulting firm. Today we're diving into a favorite topic between Dan and I.
And I think I want to get very specific about this because as business development people, we often think about I want to check in but I don't want to send like that standard check-in email. So I want to follow up with my warm prospects but I really want to strike that balance between staying top of mind and providing value. So what kind of messaging should I reach out with? And that's why Dan is here today because he is the expert at this, so welcome back my friend. I'm definitely ready to dive into this conversation.
Dan: Thank you Kelly. I am really happy to be back and this is coming from years of building up experience of having to do that check-in but really finding that people just checking in, just done thinking about it. And so, that actual phrase, just checking in, is something that I'm always telling people, let's not use that. Let’s not say let’s just check in because it really haven’t taken any thought and it hasn’t separated you from anyone else, just circling back is another one that’s used a lot that I happen to have in my inbox and I just think, oh hang on, do you care at all?
And so, when I was building a concept marketing agency and building a team around me, the things that I know that seems work, let’s invest a little more in what we just talked about with the person. And when we actually went ahead with a proposal or not, we learn a lot about their business and we start a relationship with them. It's probably just timing, if it is something that solves that problem. So let's find a way of keeping in touch with people. But actually now, especially in business development we got a lot of our leads from referrals and from our personal network. And so, we don’t want to push too hard. We don't want to be too pushy but at the same time we do need to keep in touch.
And so, I developed the top five reasons that I’ve used and yeah the first one, after any sort of meeting is just to make sure that they actually receive the information I sent out over. Now I expect that you do and others do. There’s lots of tools out there right now. They’ll tell you whether somebody's opened your email. Let us ignore them for this purpose. It is a good indicator for you but it is also a good reason for us just to reach out and say, create an opportunity for another discussion.
So I wanted to make sure that you received the info that I sent over because sometimes the attachments don't get delivered. This is true especially if you are pitching on large organizations. People are open to receiving that email and I'm just right back and then go, yeah, I got it, no problem at all. And that often starts, yeah, I meant to mention something to you. Or starts another dialogue where you say, oh great, did you get the change to read through it, come out any value to any of the conversations that happened on your side. Such a really good way of making sure often the next day or that day after, still keep that dialogue going.
Kelly: Yeah, so even if you have something where your proposal system or whatever your email program, even if it gives you the indication that they opened the email, even if it tells you more finite metrics that they've gone through the proposal, how much time they’ve spent on the proposal, I mean that's what my software does. Even if all those things are true, you're saying reach out anyway the day after.
Dan: I think that's right, yeah. Now many more people are adapting those kinds of tools. I use it myself. I think they are absolutely awesome. But hope is not a strategy. Right? So what we want to make sure is that we are creating that human touch as often as we can. Because just checking in emails can be automated and sent out. They do work a bit but the real business development is relationship management and making sure the efforts to reach out and create a conversation. Here is a good excuse to do that.
Kelly: And so, your second reason for following up is really to establish next steps. So walk us through that approach a little bit.
Dan: Yes, so I always like to think that I'm getting a lot of information in the discovery phase and before I put a proposal together. Communicating that is the next challenge that we’ve been through, right? We try to give a good explanation of how we're going to solve their problem and why we’re the right people to do that and so on. Sometimes there are gaps. Sometimes there are gaps that just naturally occur. Now during the meeting they'll come up with a question, during the meeting I will forget to ask something.
And so, I like to frame it with, during the meeting I forgot to ask, for example, who needs to agree with the proposal as well as you or when is our internal meeting going to happen or are you working to a target date to getting started? And if I’ve forgotten to ask that, I’ve got to own up and say, hey I forgot to ask that. But it also creates a great opportunity for me to be human and just reach out and say hey, just make sure on the same page what is the next step, what is the next target meeting that you're going to go for and that lets them then have a conversation with you, yeah I am actually planning to talk to my business partner tomorrow. It gets you more information and also keeps the dialogue going.
Kelly: Absolutely. Yeah. And so what was interesting about that to me is most people would say well establishing next steps I would think of that as a follow up email after I’ve delivered the proposal and I am starting a conversation before a proposal is signed to say, here are the next steps. I mean, you're not really opening up the discussion. You're saying have this conversation or send this email whatever the communication is, send that before you can go through the process of writing the proposal so that you're aligned on expectations and you're getting more information and you’re facilitating that conversation even further deepening that relationship so I love that. I love that.
Dan: Yes. It works to that. But also, remembering that we're all human, sometimes they do get forgotten and just acknowledging that sometimes you are actually gonna forget to ask the question. Going back and asking that question is just a way of making sure that you’ve got the information back and the result that they need. And I find all of these best summarized by not wanting to bother people. And the reason I made this test is because allowing yourself to have a list of reasons to reach out is a great way of just enabling the action rather than going, why would I ask the question, I’m a bit embarrassed about that. Getting the information and moving forward is the key to the progress. That's why I put the list together and it can be used in either one of those situations.
Kelly: Right. Now what about sharing key studies or even the latest whims of clients that are in a similar vertical to the prospect that you're reaching out to.
Dan: Yeah, it's a great value list and the longer the decision-making process is, the more valuable this gets. You all know it. As I've seen case studies that you’ve helped people create and build an agency owners that have built their own case studies, you got care studies that solve a particular problem but you’ve also got case studies around into that businesses like them. And you use them in a few different ways. If you’ve got a time that seems to be ticking away, since you’ve heard from somebody used in a case study and go, actually we’ve just published this especially who is new. Or this is something that we didn't talk about but I thought you might be interested in. Let me know if you’d like me to talk you through it. And provide some more resources. People do that because you're thinking about them, you are thinking about something that illustrates how you solve their problem. And it gives you a great value along the way.
Kelly: Yeah, I love this one and I actually use this a lot in the business developing strategies that I create with agencies because I think the more relevant that content is and you have the ability to showcase your deep expertise I think that's a win. And like you said, it's also just I thought of you because this is relevant to and similar to maybe a challenge that you’re struggling with or what you told me about. I heard you. And now I'm putting something in front of you to show you how we strategized and executed and solved that problem. So I absolutely love that one and I use it a lot. And I don't know that I would consider that, really content marketing but I know your fourth one is much more specific to content marketing. So how do we position content marketing in the context of the follow up?
Dan: My context with this was as a business development professional, I'm always looking in the verticals that I am working in, to news and information that’s relevant. I actually used this last week. There was a particular agency that I am in talk with. I sent them information and I was expecting something back. But I needed to reach out to them and ask, hey, I would to follow up this information but I didn't want to say that. I would send them some info instead. So I found an article that was actually a good sales lead for them. And I said, hey, you guys have seen this? It might be a good opportunity for you to reach out.
And the response that I got was, “Wow that’s really great. Thanks very much. Oh I just read your email. I'll get back to you later today.” And who knows what happened next. A couple of hours later I got a response to the email that I was looking for. So I’ve reached out to them and I got the response I was looking for. So if you see an article and you think of them, not only it is showing them that you are thinking about them and caring about what they were doing but it is a trigger, perhaps they got distracted like we all do everyday and they meant to get back to you but they just needed to see your name and oh actually thanks. That was helpful. And then they get back to you with what you needed from them as well.
Kelly: Yeah, so I also love this approach because what you're doing is you're actually stripping away anything that could be focused on you or meeting your own needs and your entirely focusing on supporting them, adding value, maybe even putting a business development opportunity in front of them. There's no way that any person, no matter what kind of client you're working with, when you go out of your way just put something in front of someone that's just about them and it shows that you actually took the time out of your day to do something for them that would be incredibly value, could even lead to a new piece of business.
Of course you're going to get a response and it doesn't take that much time. I think that's kind of what I want to hit on also because a lot of people watching or listening might say well that's all well and good but I need like a full time staff to be able to go through headlines and look through the things, if it comes across passively or you do a late searching, you can find these things very easily. So I'm curious to hear your thoughts on how you go about that.
Dan: Absolutely. So setting up with Google Alert keywords that are relevant to the industries that you are prospecting into is really a brilliant way of doing it.
Kelly: Perfect. Yeah.
Dan: So it minimizes your research time, keeps you relevant to what you're talking to your prospects about any way and you can share information with them that they probably don't have a process for creating. It just went and it really refines styles of positioning which is I know you are huge.
Kelly: Just a little bit.
Dan: Yeah, just a little bit. If we're talking about people in the same sector, and we are working meet people who met that persona, let us look at things that will be interesting to them because that is who we are talking to all the time. So yeah that is how I do it. Things I'm interested in, on behalf of the research I am doing in that sector, are things that they are gonna be interested as well. So there is really no extra work if you are actually focused in that area anyway.
Kelly: Do you use LinkedIn sales navigator or any other tools that give you daily industry news or anything else like that?
Dan: I like those tools. I like LinkedIn sales navigator research capabilities. I'm able to look into in more detail who else is gonna take part in the decisioning, not being able to discover that in the conversation. That is a helpful way of doing it. Sales navigator got brands that do publish. So established companies yeah, for sure.
Kelly: Yeah so we’re starting to wrap up here and getting to the fifth reason for following up, I think this is probably one of the most difficult ones if not the most difficult and it's specifically addressing a prospect’s objection either in your pitch or something that came up in the conversation. How should agency leaders frame those types of communications because those could get a little hairy and those are probably the ones that bring up just that fear of conflict that we also always try to avoid.
Dan: Yeah absolutely. Well this is part of having the humility to say let me ask my team and come back to you with an answer rather than feeling like you have to know everything at the same time. And also being able to go actually let me gather some more information and come back to you. I know we solved this problem for someone else before. Let me double check the details and come back to you. So you are leaving yourself with a series of reasons why you would follow up with somebody or get back to them anyway. If that’s a non-spoken thing and you've made some notes and you haven't said, this will be part of the next things that I give you as information, that gives you a door that's open anyway.
So as somebody who always looks back at what I just did, I have been able to identify. Actually, I didn't answer that question completely. I only found people love it when I go back and say, I had a conversation internally about that. Here’s the cliff notes version, would you like to have a chat just to talk it through? And I found a really strong response right from that because people love it when you close the loop. And if that is how you are going to be as a partner, and making sure that they get complete answer to what they’re looking for, then they’re gonna wanna do business with you. And so, ask insert question. I wanted to share what my team said or I did some more research and I found people love that. As a recipient of that, and I find that people love it and respond.
Kelly: And so, here specifically what I heard there, I loved all of that but what I heard was that you're setting that up in the email and then asking for a phone conversation because now you've probably had a couple of email correspondences up to that point right or maybe you’ve picked one or two from this list and now you're transitioning not into let's get on the phone because obviously there are tiers of interaction. A text is like the worst and emails second, a phone conversation is third and in person is fourth.
We want to try to level up these tiers so now at this point it is really difficult or what could be construed as a difficult conversation you're setting it up, you're framing it in the email and asking for a phone conversation. So I just wanted it touch on that specifically because that's important when you're going to have those more difficult conversations, getting someone on the phone or being able to meet in person for those in particular I think that's really important.
Dan: Yes, it is creating the opportunity for that next stage of discussion, even more than actually asking for it, is if you would like to discuss in more detail, I'm here available. And I find people want to do that unless they're already bullet point is all I need. Let’s just get it on. The higher the value of the deal, the more they like to discuss the ways how you are going to approach things. Always creating opportunities is the goal.
Kelly: Well, I also want to leave the audience with the fact that Dan has generously put together this entire discussion into a downloadable PDF, so if you head over to mindracerconsulting.com/resources/thrive you'll be able to download that. And of course I will post that in the show notes so you don't have to jot that down while you're listening to this in the car or what not. We want to keep everybody safe. So yeah head over and grab that out of the show notes. Thank you so much for joining me today Dan. I love our conversations, every one of them and I always appreciate your enthusiasm.
Dan: Always a pleasure Kelly. Thank you very much and I really hope agency owners get a great deal of value from this. The take away I hope that they have is if you can just make a list of reasons that enabled you to reach out, it makes it so much easier to get past yourself and just get on with carrying the conversation forward so I really hope that resource is helpful for them and hope you all have a great day.
Kelly: Thanks Dan. Take care.
Dan: Alright. Bye.