How do you follow up with contacts without being salesy?

If you are a lawyer, accountant, business adviser, patent or trade mark attorney, or architect you know follow is crucial to BD success but how do you follow up with contacts without being too salesy?

When do lawyers and accountants need to follow up with contacts?

When you are doing business development you need to follow up after:

– Informal contacts with clients, referrers, and other professional contacts

– Networking events whether they’re formal or social, virtual or in person

– Pitches and presentations

– Coffees after a personal introduction

– A legislative change or a relevant story has presented an opportunity to get back in touch

Why is follow up with contacts often difficult for lawyers and accountants?

Lawyers and accountants usually have 1 (or more) of 3 issues with follow up:

You don’t want to do it because it feels awkward

You don’t know how to do it without being seen as salesy

You don’t believe it’s necessary because you’ve already shared your contact details

Let’s look at each of these issues in turn and suggest some practical ways to make follow up easier and in turn improve your business development effectiveness.

1. You don’t want to do it because it feels awkward

Just do it!  Following up or failure to follow up is absolutely critical to protecting and growing your practice.

Research studies repeatedly show success in a B2B environment requires a process.  This means you have to reconnect with someone that you are trying to influence 5 – 9 times or more before you get an instruction.

2. You don’t know how to do it without being seen as salesy

Success will only come if you nudge your conversations forward.  The best way to do that is to leave your foot in the door by confirming what you’ll do next then doing it.

Here are some examples of how you can nudge a conversation closer to an instruction by using small next steps:

– Ask for a follow-up meeting

– Ask to meet or involve other stakeholders in your client/contact’s organisation

– If you’ve started the conversation remotely, ask to meet in person

– Ask to collaborate on a marketing initiative

– Ask if the contact has any objections or wants anymore information from you before making a decision

– Share some additional information to answer any questions that came up while you were talking

3. You don’t believe it’s necessary because you’ve already shared your contact details

No. No. No!

Just because your contact has your contact details, it doesn’t mean that they will think of you when they might need your services.  Simply giving someone your business card is not enough because:

Like you, your contacts are busy, stressed, forgetful and will not naturally/immediately have you at the front of their mind when something relevant crops up

The time between your initial conversation and their need for you could be months or even years

You need to stay visible and stay on your contacts radar

People are short on time and want things to be easy so more often than not, purchasing decisions will be made purely based on who they saw last.

If people have to search for your contact details and/or information, they’ll probably look elsewhere for something more instantly accessible.

How do you make follow up a habit?

If you want to protect and grow your practice, follow up must be a habit.  Here are 5 practical tips to help you do this more easily:

1. Ring-fence time in your diary to complete your follow up actions.

2. Listen attentively during conversations to spot how best to leave your foot in the door.

3. Think about follow up differently.  You are not being pushy; you’re following a process.  And remember you can genuinely help them fix a problem.

4. Always add value when you follow up.

5. Know your client and how they like to communicate and meet their preferences whether that means using the telephone, email, Zoom/Teams or meeting in person.

If you would like to find out more about our specialist networking training for lawyers and accountants (that, of course, includes full coverage of follow up!), please get in touch today and we can find a convenient time to talk.

Published by sizetenandahalfboots

Douglas is a director of Size 10½ Boots, a specialist business development agency that works solely with the professional services, helping firms grow by winning more new clients and more work from the clients they already have. Although every project is different our work generally falls into one of three camps - strategic marketing support, BD training and 1on1 coaching and independent client research.

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