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How effective follow-up can foster profitable relationships

Following up with someone who has expressed an interest in your products is a vital part of a building product company’s sales and marketing efforts. It seems like a simple process but most do it pretty poorly.

By getting the following three key aspects of the follow-up right, you can quite quickly start to build much better relationships and increase your conversion rate.

Context

By context I mean, ‘Where did the lead come from and how did they get in touch or demonstrate an interest in your products?’

If I send an email to a company to enquire about their products, I probably don’t want a phone callback.

“While this presents many challenges for a largely traditional industry, it is also a fantastic opportunity for savvy building product marketers”

If I add something to my cart on Amazon and don’t complete the purchase, it’s reasonable that I may get an email from Amazon to remind/encourage me to complete the purchase.

If I received an email directly from the company that sell the product, that’s out of context as I was engaging with Amazon’s platform.

If I ask a company a question on Twitter, I want a reply on Twitter, not to be asked for my email or sent an info@ email address and asked to send them my question again.

If a lead comes through your own website, you follow up directly. If the lead comes from a third-party site, are you able to follow up with them through that platform? Doing so will increase your engagement.

Data

Without data, how do you even go about following up with a lead? Sales and marketing is increasingly being driven by data. The majority of your audience is online.

They may not make a final purchase online – in fact in the construction industry it’s almost unheard of – but they do research your products and services online.

“You can build up a picture of specifiers before you get in contact with them, and that gives you a much better chance of starting a long-term profitable relationship”

And while this presents many challenges for a largely traditional industry, it is also a fantastic opportunity for savvy building product marketers.

Because specifiers are online, you can find out lots of information and build up a picture before you get in contact with them, and that gives you a much better chance of starting a long-term profitable relationship.

You need to have data to answer as many of the following questions as possible:

  • How can I contact them?*
  • Who is this lead?*
  • What do they do?
  • What product/service have they shown an interest in?*
  • Why do they need this product/service?
  • How did they find your information?

* Questions that must be answered

Are you currently capturing this data on your website? Do third-party sites you promote your products through or advertisements you place provide this data?

Message

The final step is your message. This combines both context and data.

You want your follow-up message to be in the same format that they contacted you with or through the same platform that they accessed some of your information.

“You need to build trust and a rapport. Charging in with a sales pitch will see them running for the hills”

The message itself should refer to the data you have. This is where knowing who the person is and what they were looking for is a minimum criteria. It allows you to address them personally and refer to the product that they are interested in.

The more data you have, the more personal you can get. If you know what their job role is, the context of why they need the product or something about the project they are working on, you can recommend more suitable products, or link to some useful blog or article that may be useful to them.

And this leads on to probably the most important aspect of the message…

Don’t sell!

At this stage, it’s about being helpful and providing value to your lead. You need to build trust and a rapport with them. Charging in with a sales pitch will see them running for the hills.

Conclusion

A good follow-up process is critical to converting leads into specifications and sales.

If you lay good foundations for capturing data and replying in context, the message becomes very easy, engagement will increase and profitable relationships will develop.

Darren Lester is the founder of SpecifiedBy, a lead generation platform for building product manufacturers. Check out their blog for more construction marketing articles and follow them on Twitter @SpecifiedBy

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