Monday, August 29, 2011

How Much Follow-Up Do You Do?

Call me a sales contrarian, but when I have tasting appointments I thank people for coming, encourage them to call me with questions, and say goodbye.

What I generally don't do after that is call, email or direct mail them. I personally HATE it when I have an appointment with someone and they call me afterward. If I have a question I'll call them. If I want to hire them I'll send the contract in.

I've had clients tell me that they didn't hire someone because they started getting calls from them after the appointment to ask if they'd made a decision about who they were hiring. I can understand that...If I don't want to hire someone having them call me isn't going to suddenly change my mind. It feels like I'm being pestered if I get follow-ups, so I don't do it to other people.

I know that there are plenty of people who disagree with me, and that selling techniques say that you should follow-up and close the sale. Problem is, the psychologist in me hates being manipulated, and I especially hate when people use "selling techniques" with me. So again, I don't do it to other people.

The people who try to get you to "trust" them by using your first name every other sentence drive me crazy. The emails that won't stop because research says that X number of contacts are necessary before you make the sale drive me crazy. The people who call to "make sure that our service exceeded your expectations" drive me crazy. Believe me, if it didn't I'd let you know. And since you just interrupted my work and made me answer the phone I'm annoyed by you now.

The farthest I'll go is to email someone after an appointment if there's something that we had talked about that I said I'd clarify. But I consider that basic customer service, not "selling."

To me, too much follow-up also feels a little desperate. When I get someone calling to "check in" every other day I get the feeling that they really, really, REALLY need my business. Which makes me nervous about why they're so depserate for business. Which makes me not want to hire them.

I know that I'm in the minority on this, so what kind of follow-up do you do, if any?

 Kara Buntin owns A Cake To Remember LLC in Richmond VA, and cake supplies online at and


Kristin said...

I don't follow up either. The only exception is with previous customers who contact me and we decide on something, and then I don't hear back from them. It only happens occasionally and with those, something comes up and they just forgot to complete the order.

Holly said...

I personally feel like a short email thanking the potential client for meeting with me is just common courtesy. It's like a thank you note. They didn't have to take time out of their day to meet with me. I don't consider it a sales technique, though it can double as one. If I meet with a potential vendor and get a short email (not a canned one though) thanking me for meeting with them, I know that I will get personal service from them if I decide to hire them. If I don't receive one, I may decide that my business isn't that important to them.

Soraya said...

I do follow up with ONE e-mail, just to say how nice it was to meet them, hope we get to work together and that I'm always available to answer any other questions that may come up. That's it. I don't like to be pestered either.

Jamie said...

I don't contact all of them. I'll thank them for coming and email the ones that had specific questions and are interested in booking, but that's it. I for surely didn't send jack to the one a few events ago that actually said "Is this all?" when she looked over the HUGE spread of choices. Really? Not enough for you?

fromscratchsf said...

Sometimes I do, sometimes I don't. If I leave the appointment with the warm and fuzzies and have the impression that they really liked me and my cake, I will follow up with the "thank you" email 2 weeks later if I don't hear from them. I also tell all my appointments that if anyone else inquires about their date while they are still deciding I'll let them know and give them a chance to book before the other people. I've had to do this a few times with mixed results.

Kara said...

I'm still on the fence about it. When I get thank you notes from people for no specific reason I just think it's a marketing thing and ignore it. But I'm cynical that way!

Anonymous said...

Yep, if someone else comes along wanting their date, I'll let them know, but I also don't give a definite price at the meeting (just a ballpark figure), I have to go away and double check all the costs (especially if they are wanting something specially bought for their cake etc), so my couple always get a quotation email after our initial meeting.

Jennifer said...

I guess I'm with you Kara, I don't contact them unless we specifically discussed it in the consult. I tend toward anti-social anyway, so I HATE being bugged by sales people.
I can see the benefit of a thank you note, but I also like giving them their space. I'm friendly enough during the consult, and so I've never heard of anyone not booking me because I didn't acknowledge them in an email. In fact, at the end of the consult I tell them that the ball is now in their court, that they probably have other bakers to see, and to let me know when they are ready to make a decision.

I also don't contact them if someone wants their date. They know that they snooze, they loose. That can also be a marketing ploy, and I try to come off as "no-pressure, no-obligation" through the whole sales process.

Eva said...

Kara, I know you do tasting 'days' each month with numerous brides-plus-entourages seeing you on that same day, so my experience is different simply because I see clients individually for consults. We discuss what I can do and for what price arrpoximately, and I ask them if they would like me to put together a quote. I give them a box of cake samples and tell them to enjoy them with their partner/whomever, and let me know which flavours they would choose for their cake. Then (based on our discussions) I will email them their quote within a week or two. This is where I say "it was a pleasure meeting you and Steve on xx August to discuss your upcoming wedding...". I attach the quote and the ball is then in their court to book/not book. Most book with my method, and I have had many clients tell me that my detailed quotes were much appreciated as the standard practice here appears to be a verbal or emailed dollar value for the job, and that's it! My quotes form the major part of our agreements, so its little wonder (to me) why they are so detailed and itemised!!
I hate being pestered and 'sucked up to' (as my kids would say) by insincere vendors, however I consider my communication via email part of the 'quote' process, instead of just 'following up'.

Maxine said...

I do individual tastings - either on a Wednesday evening or a Sunday afternoon.
Everything containing to the *cake* is dicussed then along with design.

I allow a two day gap then send off my quote.

1. That gives me time to get things sorted and if need be to see if what special requirements that need to be ordered are available.

2. I don't feel as tho i am rushing the customer by waiting two days.

After i send off the quote with design attached then it is up to the Customer to get back to me.
I don't *chase* customers - if they want me - they can have me but i won't be their *mother* and run after them.

I do however offer a CD of pictures i have taken of their cake/s before delivery and then photos i have taken at the venue - that is when i say my final *thankyou's* after an order.

This has been very popular and i have had such positive feedback and knew customers offering to pay for their CD whilst at a consult.... because their friends/family have told them that i offer this.

At the end of the day i guess its what works best for each individual - and as long as i keep getting referrals - then its working for me.

ps - Hello Kara - long time no chat - do hope all is well.
No, its not a marketing ploy - lolllllllllll


Kara said...

Interesting to hear how people handle tastings differently...I do individual tastings after the group thing didn't work here, people just didn't "get it." I do them all on one day, though, since that means that I can bake everything for all of the appointments at one time. I don't like to have things to take care of afterward, so we work up a contract that the client leaves with, and they send it back to me if they decide to hire me.

Lena said...

After cake tasting, the evening on that day I emailed them my quotation, then just wait. I never call or email them again. I am a newbie, just starting this year. I myself don't like people "chasing" me by email of phone, it is just annoying, if I wanna hire you, I will contact you. Thank you for sharing.