LisBiz Strategies: The importance of following up

Home Columns LisBiz Strategies: The importance of following up

March 30/April 6, 2015; Volume 28/Number 20

By Lisbeth Calandrino

You know what it’s like—you’re getting plenty of leads but no one is following up. At first, just a few go by, but then they start to stack up. You’re also aware that your staff isn’t following up on customers who have come into the store but haven’t made a purchase.

Every business needs fresh customers, but what about those who are good leads or have already been in your store?

If you’re working harder at getting new customers than keeping old ones, you’re spending a lot of money on marketing. Think about it this way—every time a customer returns or sends a referral, the average marketing dollar spent per customer goes down. Furthermore, a good salesperson will cultivate customers who have bought before or pay attention to “hot leads.” The competent RSA knows these kinds of consumers are easier to sell.

No matter how you’re gathering your leads, they’re only valuable if you’re following up and closing them. If you’re not doing either, you’re throwing money out the window.

If this sounds like your business, the best thing you can do is to start capturing customers’ home and email addresses. Stop entering “cash” on your invoice where it says “name and address.” After all, if you don’t have customers and good will, what do you have?

The National Retail Federation (NRF) recently said the only way to steer customers to your business is to help them cut down on their buying choices. One way to do this is to send them small bites of information that is both educational and fun so you ultimately become their trusted advisor. An article titled “Tips for finding the right flooring retailer” can help influence a fresh lead or referral to walk into your store.

The smart dealers realize that being high tech is not something for the future—it’s here now. I recently spoke with Cary Cass, general manager of Dolphin Carpet and Tile in Miami. With more than 30 years in the business and a member of the National Flooring Alliance (NFA), Dolphin is utilizing many online tools to help its customers stay connected.

“We realize that once a customer is in our store, we have an opportunity to both sell them and build a customer for life,” Cass said. “Our interactive online design center makes it easy for the customer to build a profile of her likes and store her choices with us. We’re also testing software that will automatically contact our customers with timely offers and useful tips. It’s not up to the customer to remember us; it’s our job to be memorable.”

Being consistent with customer communication is the key. White House | Black Market, a women’s clothing store targeting consumers ages 25 and older, does an excellent job of staying in touch with its customers. By receiving those emails, post cards and phone calls, I feel like we’re old friends. I feel guilty not going in to look at new styles. I know the messages are automated, but they’re still fun, informative and useful.

Michael Vernon, president of Follow Your Customer, a system designed to enhance the sales process, gave me the following advice.

“The goal of any business is to build relationships with customers,” Vernon said. “In the article, ‘ZMOT: Why It Matters Now More Than Ever,’ Google points out there are endless opportunities a business has to ‘touch’ the consumer. The key is to get her to like you because people buy from people they like.”

If you’re not following your customer, who is?

For a demonstration on how to automatically stay in touch with your customer, visit or contact Lisbeth at 518.495.5380.

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