It’s Good To Have A System

....In which we discuss the importance of systematic follow up. Two months ago, on May 29, I shared a story about Kevin-the-carpet-guy who called my office phone with the following message. "Hi, this is Kevin, and I'm in the carpet and upholstery cleaning and duct and vent cleaning business."

“We’re trying to increase our customer base in the area, and to do so, we’re offering some seasonal carpet and upholstery cleaning and vent and duct cleaning specials. If I could help you with either of these two services, please feel free to call me back at 777-777-7777….”

There was more to his message than that and he piqued my curiosity. I wrote to all of you that I planned to call him. I didn’t. I lost his phone number, then I found it. I thought about calling him, then got busy. I thought about the hassle that goes with carpet cleaning and procrastinated. Long story short, I didn’t call him. AlthoughI thought about him from time to time. The carpets are still there. They still need cleaning.

Several days ago, on July 29, exactly two months later, Kevin left me another phone message. Same basic message, updated for ‘summer’ as opposed to ‘spring.’

Point 1: Kevin has a system. Or, he’s given me the impression he has a system – two months to the day impresses me. After two messages, I’m willing to bet a lunch that, if I don’t call him back this time, my phone will ring on September 29 and Kevin will leave me another message.

Point 2: Although he doesn’t know this yet, I’m a real buyer with a real need. I just put 197 other priorities in front of “clean carpets’ for the summer. I appreciate his prompting me (again) to take action…. The carpets are still there.

Point 3: Various surveys suggest that the sale starts after the 5th attempt.! This means, sales professionals do better if they continue to reach out rather than giving up after the second try. I’m stirring after the second try.

Point 4: Two months is an interesting time period. Other surveys suggest that, to maintain top of mind awareness with someone, we need to touch them 5 – 7 times a year. Kevin is on the “6 times a year” pace. Feels like a pretty good pace, nestled comfortably between ‘pest who calls too often’ and ‘Kevin who?’

Point 5: You can handle this with 3 x 5 cards and a recipe box. Sure, a more sophisticated relationship or contact management software can make it easier (or harder). If you’re working 3,000 names, you need the software more than if you’re managing 300 names.

Point 6: The message. In Kevin’s case, he repeated his earlier message almost word for word. On the plus side, he’s brand-building by being consistent. I can almost repeat the first paragraph of his message. On the down side, one more ‘same message’ and I start to lose interest. So, varying the message with current information or late-breaking reasons to ‘buy now’ is a good thing.

‘Hello, Kevin?…..’

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