It happens to everyone in the service industry, all the time.

You get a phone call from a great prospect.

He’s a perfect fit for your service – and he seems ready to buy.

So you send him the information he requested.

And then you hear nothing more from him – despite your repeated attempts to get him on the phone.

“What happened?” you ask yourself, agonizing over this seemingly lost opportunity. “What did I do wrong?”

Relax. You didn’t do anything wrong.

“I don’t understand,” you think. “He seemed so eager and interested when he first called. Did something happen?”

Yes, something happened. And here, more likely than not, is what that something is…

The day he called to inquire about your service, he had a pressing problem that he wanted to solve fast. But priorities can change in a week, overnight, even in a minute. And suddenly, the problem he called you about is at the bottom of his priority list instead of the top.

However, you don’t know this. And so getting the prospect on the phone is still at the top of your priority list. And that’s where the disconnect is: Closing the deal is now much more important to you than it is to him.

Can you change that?

Some sales trainers would say yes, and give you a bunch of techniques for making the prospect’s need more urgent. But those techniques are largely useless. Prospects move according to their timetable, not yours – and there is nothing you can do to change it.

So how do you save the sale?

Remember, the prospect still has the problem he called you about. And he still needs a solution.

Your challenge is to gain “top of mind” awareness – to implant your service in his mind and link it to the nature of the problems you solve. Then, when the problem pops up and becomes a priority again in a week or a month or a year from now – and it will – he will think of you.

And the way to make that happen is through good old-fashioned follow-up.

If you sell a professional, creative, consultative, or technical service, the following “Triple Play” Follow-Up System can help you increase your closing rate of leads to sales by 50 percent or more.

There are three components to the system: managed contact, automated contact, and random contact.

Let’s take a look at each one. They’re all simple, and anyone can do them.

1. “Managed contact” means you use contact-management software – such as Goldmine or Act – to instruct your PC to automatically remind you when it’s time to touch base with any given prospect.

If you’ve never gotten any feedback from the prospect on the best time to contact him again, schedule regular phone calls or e-mails at an interval that makes sense to you. Perhaps monthly or quarterly. On the other hand, if the prospect has told you the best time to contact him (“Call me after Labor Day”), program your contact-management software to remind you accordingly.

2. “Automated contact” requires you to publish a monthly online newsletter that you distribute free to your clients and prospects.

When you get an inquiry or meet a potential client, you always ask, “May I sign you up for a free subscription to our online newsletter?” Nine out of 10 will say yes, allowing you to add their e-mail address to your subscriber list.

Now, a reminder of you and your service – your e-zine – appears in the prospect’s inbox every month. Which means you’ve got automated monthly follow-up for new leads.

3. “Random contact” means the follow-up isn’t planned. You just do it when the mood or opportunity arises.

The way I do this is to clip articles from the magazines and newspapers I read that would be of interest to particular clients or prospects. I scribble a brief note on each clipping (often nothing more than “John – FYI – Bob Bly”), put it in an envelope, and mail it.

And that’s the Triple Play Follow-Up System in a nutshell: managed contact… automated contact via an e-newsletter… and random follow-up via the mailing of clippings.

Any one of these follow-up methods can help make you stand out in a prospect’s mind – and separate you from your competitors. But the 1-2-3 Triple Play Follow-Up is an unbeatable combination for imprinting your name indelibly on the prospect’s memory… so when a need for your service does arise, he calls you first.

[Ed. Note: Bob Bly is a freelance copywriter and the author of more than 70 books. Together with Michael Masterson, Bob has put together a comprehensive program that reveals insider secrets of direct marketing. Keep in mind that you can use direct marketing to help you grow any business – whether it’s a brick-and-mortar store or an online company.]

Sign up for Bob’s free monthly e-zine, Direct Response Letter, and get more than $100 in free bonuses.]

Bob Bly

Bob Bly is an independent copywriter and consultant specializing in business-to-business and direct marketing. He has been hired as a consultant by such companies as Sony, Chemical Bank, J. Walter Thompson, Westinghouse, and Prentice-Hall. Bob is also the author of more than 50 books including The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Direct Marketing (Alpha Books), Targeted Public Relations, Selling Your Services, How to Promote Your Own Business, and Keeping Clients Satisfied. A phenomenal public speaker, Bob will share with you how easy it is to start your own business. Whether you’re ready to quit your job or are just looking to make a little money on the side, you’ll want to hear Bob’s advice.

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