Tuesday, November 15, 2011

What do we really mean by "follow up"?

It's all about the following.
The "follow" or its derivative, the "follower" is a very popular term today and refers to the person who follows another one in Twitter or it can also refer to the action of keeping your attention or focus on someone else’s comments about a particular topic.

I think it’s precisely for this reason that the term "Follow up" is losing some of the wonderful power it has always had on business development. What do I mean by saying this? Today I want to talk to you as if I were your customer, who I could probably be because, as you do too, I also buy products and services.

In recent days I made an exercise with my Twitter account as well as on some of the Facebook pages I follow and some of the promotional emails I receive regularly. You're probably telling yourself: "This guy definitely went out of his mind!"

Well, I haven’t gone crazy just yet. By doing this exercise, I had the opportunity to confirm one thing: My messages were not replied to. No response at all. Zero-zero. Not even with those automated messages telling me something like "We have received your request for information. We’ll get back to you as soon as possible."

What does this mean for me? It's really simple: Companies are cultivating "followers" but aren’t properly executing the "following up" that is recommended to be done as part of any relationship management process, whether it’s a personal or business relationship.

Let’s see an example: When you go to a hospital because you're not feeling good, the doctor takes you to the emergency room and "puts you under observation", doesn’t he? Then he continues to "follow up" on all the symptoms that might indicate what your condition is and, perhaps, to get to know if they need to perform further testing. This "monitoring all the symptoms” allows them to determine what treatment is necessary to bring you back to a normal condition. It allows them to make a decision.

The same applies for business. When you send a business proposal, whether it’s an offer, discount, newsletter, notification of an event, or any other commercially oriented communication, it’s not your audience who needs to be on top of it or to follow up with it. No way.

It’s you who must "follow up" on what your audience responds to your posts, offers, newsletters, and so forth, whatever your intention or motive could be. It’s you, as the company, who must continuously monitor the actions that your audience takes upon your marketing efforts. This will allow you, as the doctors do, to make important decisions.

The "following" process should never be focused on you. Remember we recently talked about that on my post "Who follows who in Social Media?" Well it looks like it’s worth to bring the subject back one more time.

The "follow up" or "monitoring" process defines a continuous relationship you establish with your customers. It’s a commitment on your side to properly take care of them, and it’s not unilateral, but two-ways. You must be willing to respond to what your customer asks or comments, because this is the seed from which a true business relationship develops.

That what you want to do is to boost your sales? We all know that, but how do you know when I, your potential customer, I'm ready to buy? That's why there must be monitoring, active and effective listening, following up. I know it sounds like a child's play, but ultimately it's about your business, sales, profitability, return on investment we are talking about. Now it sounds more appealing to you, doesn’t it?

You have to get used to the idea that your business is on your client’s side and becomes alive only when your clients purchase your product or services. Only at that moment neither sooner or later. Just then. If the purchase doesn’t happen, the business doesn’t exist just yet. Or could you keep your business running without customers? Of course you can’t.

Monitoring or "following up" should be a commercial habit, and involves paying attention to each and everyone of the things that happen in your business environment, and even more important those that happen when you send any message to your audience, especially in the digital environment.

If you send out an email newsletter or offer, even if it’s automated, keep an eye on the statistics not only to see the opening rate, but to know what really happens, who opens them, who doesn't. If on facebook or twitter, not only respond to your follower’s comments but try and encourage conversations, develop interesting themes, enjoy the great opportunity social networks offers to truly interact with your customers.

Never forget to show the keen interest you have for your customers, properly following up on all your marketing efforts. Don’t let the "follow up" and the "follower" be mixed up. Can you find an opportunity to grow your business by properly following up with your customers?

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