Before you delete, FU is CRM shorthand for Follow Up. Follow Up, also known as stalking, is a key weapon in a seller’s fight to close the deal. It is also one of the most poorly-used tools. Like the ecard says, many calls are made to FU emails. There are many others ways the FU is F’d Up:
- “Read my email” – You can send with a read receipt. BETTER if you have a compelling Subject Line, VALUABLE content and a clear CALL TO ACTION. If you have and they read it, you’ve already heard back from them.
- “Made a decision” – Their timetable, not yours. If they made a decision and you haven’t heard, you didn’t get the deal. BETTER to ask if anyone needs more info (sometimes these requests fall between the cracks), let the prospect know about new enhancements that will soon add more value to your proposal, peer/competitive companies that have signed deals with you (competitive pressure).
- “Have any questions about…” – If they had questions, they would ask. Maybe. This one, I’ll cut some slack, because some prospects don’t like to ask questions about a proposal because it a) makes them look dumb; b) leads the seller to think they are getting the deal and push harder. BETTER to ease in by asking if anything in your proposal needs clarification because sometimes terminology is different company to company.
- “Received my proposal/quote” – See “Read my email” you can send the proposal with a read receipt. BETTER to assume the prospect has received it and use the email to add some value/color to part of your proposal.
- “Checking in” – When I was in Middle School, I had an 11pm curfew. If I was going to be late, I had to Check In prior to 11pm and confirm when I would actually be home. Failure to Check In or arrive by the time I indicated resulted in grounding. Seriously, is there a bigger waste of a voicemail than “Hi, just checking in?”
Not fair to just criticize, so here are 5 FU ideas that may actually help your deal move along, or at least let you know where it stands.
- “News you can use” – Share industry/competitive/regulatory news you heard, then ask if it will have an affect on the specs or implementation timeline. You make your prospect smart, show off your knowledge and demonstrate you have their interests in mind.
- “Best practice” – Share best practices other clients are using to generate greater value or better outcomes from what you’re selling. Don’t divulge confidential information, but good ideas are not usually subject to copyright.
- “I had an idea” – Like the previous idea, but make this a singular idea targeted to one of the prospect’s strongest needs/goals for what you’re selling to accomplish.
- “I had a question for you” – Sometimes, particularly in a bidding process, a period for questions is defined and ends. But, if not, try asking a question about implementation (presumptive trial close) or customization, so that you can make sure appropriate resources will be made available to support them.
- “Changes?” – Changes on the prospect side can slow down a deal. Your prospect is dealing with the changes and likely doesn’t have notifying you of a delay very high on the list. You can ask if timelines, needs, budget or process has changed on their side.
And, oh yes, use the client’s preferred contact modality. If they only respond to email, then email. If they’ve responded to voicemail, then use that too. You just don’t want to be waiting at the airport when your ship comes in.
If you’re going to FU, make sure you FU creatively and appropriately so you don’t FU your deal!