Once Connected: Stay In Touch & Follow-Up With Your Future Client
Do The Client Follow-Up
No, it isn’t a 1960’s James Brown song. Follow-up means stay in touch with past clients, referrals that have not signed up yet and clients that you’ve pitched and did not win.
Need three reasons to have a follow-up plan?
- Ex-clients can recircle to become a new client. I had a casino client that did just that after a couple of years of their wandering in the agency forest. It took them a while to re-realize just how wonderful my agency was.
- Your ex CMO, the one that left your account in the lurch, will resurface someday at a new client organization that will want you.
- Client prospects that did not choose you in a pitch will eventually tire of the agency they selected and might eventually realize that they want your brilliance. After a pitch loss, do not say, “oh, they didn’t select us – boo hoo” and crawl into a hole. Nope, stay in touch. After all, that client once put you on their new agency shortlist.
Here is a how-to from my book: The Levitan Pitch. Buy This Book. Win More Pitches. (LOL, given the book’s sales figures, there is a good chance your competition has already read the book. Go buy it).
The Post Pitch Follow-Up
You’ve busted your ass to get into and then pitch the new client. Sorry, you did not win. Now what?
Chances are good that it has been at least a couple of months since the client or consultant first made contact. This major league pitch might have included an RFI, RFP, a kick-off meeting, phone calls, questions, and your own special strategies designed to make you look smart, passionate and well, you fill in the blanks of what you did ahead of the big presentation.
After the presentation, you graciously handed over your leave behind, smiled, hugged, and walked out. Now what? Really, now what? You could sit by the phone like a 1950’s ingénue on a Friday night waiting for that call or be a bit more aggressive. But, how aggressive? And how long should you take before you make contact? How passionate do you want to look – because there can be a fine line between looking passionate and, well, desperate.
As I have said before: every pitch lives in its own little world and has its own pace. Some clients recognize that you are anxious, there is a need for speed, and that they should get back to you quickly. Some are not so caring. Or worse, after going through the pitch process, they may be revaluating their initial business objectives and requirements. Need more maybes?
Maybe the client is now wondering about what type of agency they really need. Do they want a huge agency or a specialist? Maybe a decision maker just went out of mobile range to climb K2 for three weeks. Or, maybe, just maybe, the budget has shrunk.
Or, bam! After getting to know a few new agencies, they’ve realized that they really love the incumbent agency.
Lots of maybes. But fear of follow-up? Get over it. I mean, get over over-thinking. The deal is that you have no choice but to follow-up. You have to look like you care, a lot. Clients, good clients, respect passion. Here are my 3 follow-up rules.
- Do it. Find the balance between looking very interested in working with the client and being respectful of their time. Being a nuisance does not work. Acting interested does. The other agencies will follow-up. Just do your own follow-up scenario smarter.
- Find a value-add reason to follow-up. Chances are good that the client asked a question in the meeting that could be the basis for a follow-up call. It is quite possible that you didn’t have the time during the presentation to answer a question in detail, or you might have some new related research to impart. Maybe you held back some information, and it’s now time for your pre-planned reveal.
- Be you. Maintain the personality you used in the presentation. Be genuine, professional, and if you can, add some humor if appropriate.
A Pitch Planning Tip:
Don’t wait till after the meeting to create a follow-up plan. Think ahead and have a follow-up insight or document at the ready. Consider embedding a preplanned reason to follow-up in your presentation. Let the client know that you will be sending them something and get it to them fast. Get it in their head that you are on the ball and are proactive.