Getting Back to Basics
Every year I get a card from my grandmother with a handwritten one-page note. She is catching me up on what is going on and throws in a little guilt trip as well. No matter what it says, I find myself finding a chair to sit in and really spend a few minutes reading what she wrote. For me, I look forward to these few minutes every year. Why? because it’s different and that makes it special.
Having a business for over 15 years, you start to look for new ways to connect with clients. Having a business for over 15 years that manages online marketing you look for new ways to connect with clients that get their attention. Everyone is doing the same thing with social media and electronic e-blasts, nothing stands out anymore.
Handwritten notes do stand out and more often than not when ever I send a client a handwritten note, I get a call from them. That tells you something.
Here is an article I found: Handwritten Notes: The Most Powerful Follow Up by Susan Ward. Well worth the time.
Those that follow up can not only get the customers/clients that other less conscientious sales people have left behind, but beat competitors in attracting new business.
To reap the benefits of follow up, though, you have to do it, and have to do it right. It continually astounds me that so few businesses that I am personally aware of can’t seem to be bothered to follow up. My guess is that they are assuming that people will contact them if they’re interested – a faulty assumption that can cost you a lot of business. Customers and/or clients have busy lives and unless there’s some special reason not to forget about you, they will.
What’s the best way to follow up? The phone call? The text message? The email? No – none of these. The best way to follow up is still the handwritten note.
Now don’t take that to mean that you should just dash off one handwritten note to a client or customer and your follow up is done. If you are trying to make a sale, chances are good you are going to follow up anywhere from two to seven times (I remember reading that 80 percent of new sales are made after the fifth contact.) And that doesn’t mean that you have to write a handwritten note each time. Phone calls, emails, and even text messages can certainly help keep you and your products and/or services in the forefront of your client or customer’s brain.
But the handwritten note, because of its apparent personal nature, has a power that other follow up techniques lack, so it should be the fulcrum of your follow up efforts.
Properly done, the handwritten note is a real relationship builder because it says to your client or customer that you have taken the time to recognize them as an individual and that their business is important to you.
It’s also a great way to differentiate yourself from the competition because so few people bother to follow up at all, let alone follow up in ways that will impress customers.
For instance, right now several financial investment firms are courting me. One of them dropped an obviously mass-produced flyer into my mailbox asking me for my business (and a poorly printed flyer at that). He never bothered to follow up.
Another dropped by the house, introduced himself, and we had a pleasant chat about what my financial investment needs might be. The next day I found a handwritten note in my mailbox thanking me for taking the time to talk to him and asking me to let him know if he could be of future service.
Guess which one of these firms I would choose to do business with? Who wouldn’t? The first investment firm may be fine, but the representative of the second firm has impressed me; it’s his name that is lodged in my mind.
Besides being a great way to get prospective new customers and/or clients to think of you favourably, handwritten notes are also a great way to thank people for their patronage. After we got new flooring installed in our house by a local firm, the owner of the business sent us a handwritten note thanking us for choosing their firm and hoping that we were enjoying the look of our new floors (which we are)! This sort of personalized attention is one reason that I recommend this firm to anyone local.
Don’t be afraid of being old-fashioned; when it comes to follow up, sometimes the old ways are the best. Take the time to write handwritten notes thanking your customers and/or clients; the time you spend writing them will be well worth it in terms of return business and increased positive word-of-mouth.