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Feb 10

How One Contact Turned Into a 23-Year Relationship

My first date with my husband was encouraged by mutual friends. It was a “girls ask guys” dance at college and both of us went because we had nothing better to do that weekend. We definitely felt a connection on that first date and continued dating after that. Before long we got engaged and then married. (It has been 23 years of marriage now!)

If he had asked me to marry him at the end of the first date, I would not have been ready to say yes. I needed more time to get to know him. But, imagine if after that first date, he had never called or asked me out again. I would have been left wondering about the connection I felt, but I probably would have moved on.

Consider how this applies in your business relationships. They say it takes at least 7 contacts to go from prospect to sale. As a business owner you make many connections with people. Not all of them will become clients, but many have potential. They may feel a connection with you, your business, or the services you offer. They might not be ready to “get married” after the first date, though. They need to hear from you many times and in many ways to help them develop trust in you.

If you don’t keep in touch after the initial contact, prospects may be left wondering, but they will move on. It might be a week later. It might be months later. They will meet someone else who can fill their need and they will forget about you. When you meet prospects, whether it is in person or on the phone, you are just beginning to create a relationship. Because you are busy with your work, it is easy to forget those contacts. If you have a database, you can enter their contact information into it. Unless you have a plan for what to do next, they will just be a name in your database.

One way to guarantee follow up is to develop a sequence of things that you do after the first contact to stay in touch. You may connect with them on social media, or ask if they would like to receive your e-newsletter. (Don’t automatically add them. That is spam.) Sending a note in the mail after your first contact saying how much you enjoyed meeting them is a great personal touch. You may have a regular mailing list that you send things to on a monthly or quarterly basis that you can add them to. You could also put a reminder in your calendar to call them a month or six months later.

Your clients may not stay with you for 23 years like I have with my husband, but when you take the time to nurture and develop relationships, you will see an increase in client retention.

If you don’t have a system for following up multiple times with prospects, you are leaving money on the table. Develop a plan for consistent follow up and you will see more prospects convert into long-term relationships.

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