Are you failing in your follow up? Why most agents are losing 9 out of 10 potential salesArticle added by Brett Kitchen on February 17, 2011
Brett K

Brett Kitchen

Murray, UT

Joined: January 24, 2011

My Company

Insurance Mavericks

Let’s jump in and talk about the first step to success online. In this article, we're going to focus on fixing your follow-up failure. Why am I starting with follow-up? Shouldn't we be starting with lead generation? How to get more appointments?

No, and here’s why: You can go out and spend money advertising. You can get traffic, opt-ins, prospects, and more referrals, but if you don't have a way to stay in front of them, nurture them, and educate them into becoming clients, your time and your money is wasted. So, the first and most important thing you can do is fix your follow-up failure.

Brand Guru Jaqdeep Kapoor says that it takes seven touches for someone to feel comfortable with buying any single product. That's a common marketing concept.

They need to see our message and have communication from us seven times before they turn into a buyer. An enlightening statistic shows that up to 90 percent of sales people give up on selling after the fifth customer call.

That means you are literally losing nine out 10 sales if you aren't following up properly! They might not be sales you will make this week or month, but they are sales that will come over time.

Well, what does that tell us about the huge chasm that’s created because of this follow-up failure? We now know that a large percentage of potential clients only buy after seven touches, yet most agents are giving up after the fifth call. So we're closing a small fraction of the deals we should be.

The reason for this is clear.

After five phone calls or visits, we assume they aren’t interested. We’re tired of wasting time on people who aren’t going to close, so we give up and move on. We want to sell on the second call or we're out of there.

But what if you had the first three or four touches with that prospect before you ever talked with them? You educated them, you pre-sold them, and then you pre-qualified them. You got them excited about what the solution to some of their biggest problems could be — all before you sat down for the first appointment.

Imagine how much more efficient you would be if you worked primarily with people who were already determined to buy. Think of how many more deals you would close and how much higher your commissions would be.

The great news is that all of this is totally possible with the leverage of an Internet follow-up system.

Let’s talk about what a follow-up system should look like. First of all, it should include different types of media. By media, I mean, audio, video, written text, tele-conferences, webinars, virtual meetings, phone calls, blog posts, e-mails and, of course, they should include offline steps as well. Meaning, they should be getting something in the mail from you.

Prospects should be getting an audio CD, a book, a report, a letter or a postcard, educating them and motivating them to buy from you. A good follow-up system should also include online events, live events, or simulated live events. We'll talk about those in greater detail later in a article dedicated specifically to that, because there's no better leverage than using simulated live events to sell en masse.

The structure to a good follow-up sequence is value and content. What are the great benefits that your products offer? I'm not talking about features. I'm not talking about annuity bonuses or the rates of return.

I'm talking about massive tax savings, kissing bankers goodbye by financing tourself to wealth or the amount of money they can pass onto their heirs without getting devastated by estate taxes.

Show them the amount of money they can save by using a tax-deferred program or the benefits of keeping the money safe and out of the stock market rollercoaster. These are the topics that people are worried about.

In your follow-up system, use stories and case studies. Case studies are easy for people to understand. If you've been in the business any length of time, you should have plenty of those to go around, and that’s what I would highly recommend. E-mail follow-up is going to be the driving force behind your follow-up sequence.

An e-mail can deliver much of the different media that we want to send and, of course, it’s cheap (not free). It can deliver a link to a YouTube video, or a link to an audio recording, or a link to a blog post or an invitation to an event. It’s very important that you set part of your system up with an e-mail autoresponder company

I also recommend that your emails be written in first person. Write them like you are talking to a friend. Set them to go out every three or four days with a valuable piece of content. Keep your emails short with a link back to the content you want them to consume.

This is best done with a link to your blog. We’ll talk about setting up a blog in a later article, because setting up a blog is going to be a very important to your follow-up sequence.

You want to train your email prospects to click on a link that will take them to your website or Youtube page, etc. You need to send out an email every three to five days, and you want to include content about specific topics they may find valuable or statistics about enlightening information they might find helpful.

Compliance busting secret:
You don’t even have to write the content yourself. You can create an entire follow-up sequence from videos already hosted on YouTube and articles from magazines like Forbes and newspapers like the Wall Street Journal.

It won’t be as effective as if you personally created the content as the “guru”, but this is a quick and easy way to build a follow-up sequence and not put yourself on the line for creating the content.

With our own follow-up system, we constantly drive our folks back to our website to watch videos, articles and read blog posts.

Your follow-up system should include content pieces that drive them back to your blog or your YouTube channel. Also, remember to mix it up. One day should be a video and the next, a blog post. On another day, use an audio recording followed by a YouTube video. You get the picture.

Making a YouTube video is easily done. Just use a Web cam and record right into YouTube. They make it a very simple process for you to record and then post the recorded content to your personal blog.

You may think that compliance won't allow you to do this. When it comes to compliance, you really have two choices. You can roll over and give up without a fight, basically letting them shoot down any and all marketing you want to do.

If that is the route you choose, then you risk letting everybody around you adopt these strategies and profit while your business slowly becomes obsolete.

Your second choice is to find a creative way to deal with compliance by using a third party or simply deal with their changes head on. Have patience and make the suggested changes.

I have found that often, the changes they make are not crushing to the overall marketing plan. If they do make some changes you don’t like, then work with them — go back and forth until you get something that suits both of you. Now back to the follow-up sequence.

For best results in your efforts, you will want to develop an offline marketing sequence, as well.

Start your offline follow-up sequence with a shock and awe package. This is a package that blows the doors off your prospects. They get something in the e-mail that educates them, establishes your credibility, and positions you as a clear leader in the industry. This is an incredibly powerful tool that substantially increases closing ratios and virtually eliminates any competition.

So, how do you develop your shock and awe package? We start with audio CDs. These are easy for people to consume by popping them into their car CD player, and they are very easy for you to produce.

I would suggest including two audio CDs in your offline follow-up sequence. The first one could be somebody interviewing you as the expert. Set it up as a type of radio show interview. Start with some of your credentials and a bit about yourself. Put some personality into it so they can get to know you as a real live person.

The second CD could be a recording of the “Seven Tips of Safe Money” or whatever your topic is about.

Another item to include in your shock and awe package is proof. Proof comes in many different forms. Social proof is one of the most important types of proof because, as humans, we are trained to believe that the group is correct more often than not.

If you are in a crowded football stadium for the first time and you don’t know where the exit is, what are you going to do? More than likely, you’ll just follow the crowd as they file out of the stadium.

This is social proof in action. If everyone else says you are great, you must be great — right?

Create social proof with testimonials. Get as many client testimonials as you can, and overwhelm your prospect with a preponderance of proof. Print these testimonials on color paper and staple them together or saddle stitch them into a booklet.

Another powerful social proof is celebrity clients that you may have or a high-profile client with a name or business that many folks will recognize.

Testimonials do not need to express any types of returns. What they need to do is communicate trust, positioning and credibility. For the most part, you can use testimonials as long as you don’t make claims about returns. So check with your compliance department and see what guidelines they have regarding testimonials.

Once you have the package put together, send it out in a 9 x 12 or 10 x 13 envelope or, even better, send it in a FedEx or USPS first class envelope. Those get opened almost 100 percent of the time.

Another item to include in your shock and awe package is a buck slip. A buck slip is a half piece of paper, usually colored, with a headline on it and a call to action. For example, “Call to schedule your appointment now!”.

The buck slip is important because it’s a different shape than the rest of the material and can grab attention as it falls out of the package.

I also highly recommend that you include a report of some kind. This does not need to be a long 20-page report; it can be as short as four pages. This should be a sales presentation, not a bunch of information.

In fact, you want to be very careful not to arm your prospect with so much information that they become overwhelmed. Tease them with some great content, but require them to come to you to get all their questions answered.

In your follow-up sequence, you want to hit them with different ways to consume your information. Your follow-up sequence now has an offline component that is combined with online media — now you are hitting your prospect with video, audio, printed material and e-mail. That’s a powerful combination.

You should ideally have four steps, each carried out about seven days apart, in the offline follow-up sequence:
    1. Create the shock and awe package.
    2. Send a simple post card.
    3. Send a mini version of the shock and awe package. It should include your report and maybe a CD of audio testimonials.
    4. Send a final call to action postcard or letter format.
Another great tool to utilize is an endorsed mailing where one of your clients actually writes an endorsement letter on your behalf to prospective clients.

Now, how do you manage your follow-up sequence? It has to be done using an e-mail software service. Use the software program to set up each of the four steps in your follow-up sequence. The program will ensure that your prospects will be getting one of your direct mail pieces at least once every seven days. Plus, every three to four days, they’ll be getting an email with content in it or with a direct link to a piece of related online content.

The wrap
The biggest improvement in profits I’ve seen in companies I’ve consulted come from starting a solid follow up sequence for their current prospects.

It is a major, major mistake to believe that since someone hasn’t purchased within the first 10 or 20 days, they aren’t going to purchase.

Just the opposite is true. In fact, if your follow up sequence is done right, you’ll find that you can double your sales by following up with interested prospects, not just for a month or two, but forever.

Now that you’ve got your follow-up sequence compiled and automated through the software program, how do you actually get people into the system? We’ll discuss this in detail in a later article.
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