In marketing we spend a lot of time talking about lead generation. But the key to turning leads into business is in the follow up. Without a planned, consistently executed follow up system, a good portion of the time and money spent on generating leads will go to waste.
We often referred to the series of tasks that need to be completed as an Activity Series or a Follow Up Sequence. As more software companies create solutions to help manage and automate follow up, I’m sure you will hear different terms but they are basically the same.
One more quick note about software – there are plenty of powerful software tools to help you manage your follow up sequences but they are not mandatory. You can certainly manage it with a calendar, paper, and discipline. Even if you do buy software, you still need the discipline if you want to be successful.
A sample follow up series will generally include the following information:
- The start date for the follow up series. This may be when someone subscribes to your newsletter or when you meet them at a networking event.
- The step number in the sequence.
- Description of what needs to be done.
- When the step is to be done. This is typically expressed as either the number of days after the previous step in completed or some other event. How it is expressed depends somewhat on the complexity of your sequence. For example, you may try to contact someone be phone 3 times, and if all 3 fail, you need to decide what to do next.
- Due Date or completion date – typically computed by adding the number of days in #4 to the completion date of the previous task.
- Who is responsible for completion of the step. This can include people that you delegate tasks to (co-worker, virtual assistant, etc.), an automation system, or a fulfillment vendor.
- Tools and other resources needed to complete the step.
Whether you use software to automate your follow up sequences or not, I find it is helpful to map out your step before you add them to your system. Most folks that I work with like to do this on paper or using Excel (or your favorite spreadsheet software). If you do use Excel, there is a handy function named WORKDAY() that can help you map out your due dates. The Workday() function lets you add a number of days to a date and have it return the next workday. So if you have a step that should take place 3 days after a Wednesday, it will return the date for the following Monday instead of the Saturday. You also have the ability to define a range of holidays in order to exclude those dates as well.
You can download a sample Follow Up Sequence spreadsheet (Excel) that uses the WORKDAY() function here.
Lead generation is important, but if you want to grow your business you need to have a consistently executed follow up system that will turn interest into sales.
Bill Brelsford Small Business Marketing Consultant