07/16/2008: "Should You Spend a Lot of Time Following Up With Prospective Clients?"
When I was in sales and sales management, I was taught to do a certain amount of follow up work. In other words, when I had a lead on a prospective customer or client, I made numerous contacts with them before giving up on them.
Did it work? Well, in some cases. It depended on what I was selling and how that particular sales process worked.
So what about copywriting. Should you follow up with people who have contacted you for a quote and failed to get back to you?
No. It's generally a waste of time. I for one hate to waste time worse than a cat hates water.
In my experience, if a person does not reply to your quote within a day or two at the most --- barring unusual circumstances --- he is not going to get back to you. All the calls and emails in the world won't do you any good.
What's usually happened is that he's discovered he's out of his league with you. Your fee is too high for his budget and he's ashamed to admit it to you. Or perhaps you've said something ever so slight in an email that turned him off. You may have meant it one way but he took it another. It happens. But it could be one of a hundred things that caused him to ignore your quote.
He's decided against using your service. Period. So, get over it and go on. I generally forget a prospective client's name and everything about him in a few days if I've not heard from him. If he called me, I wouldn't know who he was without looking up old emails if I still had them.
Why They Don't Respond
There are many reasons why people fail to respond to your quote.
I've discovered, for example, that people don't take the time to read all they should on your site. I have some important information about my fees on my quote request form. While most people read it, a small handful do not. They plunge right in and fill out the form.
By doing that, they do not know that I have a minimum fee and what I base my fee on. If they did, they would not ask for a full service quote but ask for a limited service quote or none at all. I would certainly prefer not to get a request from them if they don't know about my fees. I don't have the time to waste on them.
My point? Once you've given someone a quote and followed up with perhaps one polite email or phone call, let it go.
I generally follow up with either an email or, in limited circumstances, a phone call. I want to make sure they got the quote. Things really do get lost in spam filters and company mail. So there's always a chance they didn't get your quote. One follow up is probably a good idea.
But after that, forget about it.
Most people who drop by our sites are tire kickers. Many have a sincere need for a copywriter. A few may even end up hiring someone. But most are shopping price or, simply shopping. And the majority can't afford our fees even though they desperately need our service.
And then there are those losers who think we don't deserve to be paid the fees we charge; that our work is not that hard.
Then there are a few copywriters trying to figure out your fees and the way your work so they can copy it or have it for their own information. It's called "gathering intelligence." They may even go so far as to apply for a quote using a name and email address you won't recognize. Or they have a pal do it for them.
The other kind is the guy or gal who looks impressive far beyond his means. I've found that many people online appear to have a large business but, in reality, work from a phone with screaming kids in the room. I called one woman the other day and a screaming toddler actually answered the phone! How unprofessional is that? And this woman put CEO/President as her title on the quote request form!
The point of all this is to show you why it is a waste of your time to follow up with prospective clients more than once. The reason is that, in most cases, they're not really prospective clients at all.
Real prospective clients will quickly get back to you and give you their input. You'll develop communication and either work something out or not. But at least something happens in a natural course of events.
There are many businesses that work well when a follow up system is used. I advise my real estate clients, for example, to follow up extensively. That business requires numerous follow ups. In fact, without lots of follow up, it's hard to be successful in that business and many others.
Our business just isn't one of them.
An Internet copywriting service, in my opinion, does not require and even suffers from more than one follow up in most cases.
So my suggestion is to not waste your time on follow ups. It will drain you of your creative energy. That energy is better spent on paying clients.