Mastering the Game of Following Up With Your Prospect

It seems there are hundreds of questions swirling around how to follow up with prospects. The raw truth is that very few people follow up at all. Kristy Rogers, Executive Managing Director of South Bay Chapters of eWomen Network, says that, on average, only 2 percent of people buy on the first contact with a vendor.

So if you’re not following up, you’re walking away from 98 percent of your sales.

Here are my tips to maximize sales and take the pain out of following up:

  1. Understand the difference between a real prospect and a new contact. You will make several new contacts, but many of them will never buy from you. Both are valuable: a new contact can refer you business, while a prospect may become a client. But you need to know the difference so you don’t turn them off when you send follow up messages.To a prospect, you would ask them about their problem that your service or product will solve. To a contact, you will ask them who their ideal client is so that you can be a good referral source for them.
  2. Create a follow-up system. This can be a spreadsheet, a web app such as, or would you believe I use Ziploc bags (to put the business cards in)! It doesn’t matter what it looks like; you just want to know when to follow up. I recommend sending the first follow-up email right after the first meeting. Then plan to send a second one 1-2 weeks later. Plan out up to 6-30 touches, as marketers call them.
  3. If you begin to interact with a prospect for business, always ask when you should follow up before you wrap up the present conversation. That way, you’re not worrying about whether it’s too soon or too late or too pushy, etc. Just ask.For example, when someone expresses interest, ask when they have time to have a more detailed conversation. Then before you hang up from that one (if you haven’t gotten the business yet), agree on when you should follow-up and how (email, phone call). And so forth. This idea takes the guesswork (and especially the angst!) out of the process.
  4. Better yet, learn how to get people coming to you, rather than chasing them. There are several terrific ways to do this depending on your industry, and is best mastered with a marketing coach (like me) because it is so breakthrough and you have to make some habit changes.

Following up can actually be fun. It’s all about getting to know people, building respect and trust, and working together for mutual benefit.