Saturday, August 24, 2013

Don't Just Email: 7 Innovative Ways to Follow-Up Without Dreading It

When I wrote my last blog post, I talked briefly about the follow-up process and how it is, in my opinion, the place where all the magic happens in a sale. Some of you weren't crazy about that notion, because I'd wager you feel like a follow-up can come across as a mix between begging and harassment. While I certainly understand that, having been on the receiving end of countless follow-ups of that type myself, I'm here to tell you that it doesn't have to be that way.

One of the mantras that we share at Gloryhound is to be constantly in the service of others, and in order to do so, you need timely feedback from your customers, good and bad. Imagine yourself a waiter in a restaurant, the customer is the diner - to make sure they were getting what they wanted, you'd check on them from time to time, yes? Think of a follow-up as your time to check on someone you'd like to be taking care of, and not just as a harassing phone call or email - and that brings me to our point, today: Don't limit yourself to just those outlets, either!

Here are seven ways to make a follow-up not only more interesting for you, but more service-minded for your customer, and really leave a great impression:

  1. Go there in-person - If you want to get a company's business, you should go there in person. As an example, if you're an artist or writer and a studio you'd like to work for isn't too far from you, then take a day trip to check it out. Many offices will welcome the opportunity to give freelancers a tour, if they ask to do so and call ahead in advance.
  2. Find common ground - Stop and think: what are the things that make you want to do work for a target organization? If you love coming up with designs for skateboards and want to work for a skate company, then I'm going to assume you have an interest in the sport itself. Get tickets to a local event and tell your prospects you'd like to invite them out. Chances are, they might already be going, and you can meet up with them. This is a great way to get to know someone and their business, as well as show your enthusiasm for their niche.
  3. Attend an industry event - This is an easy one. If you're a comic book artist, you should be going to comic book shows. Even if you can't present your work at a table or booth, you should go as an attendee. If you've never been to a convention or other event within your industry, you're likely to be very surprised by who you meet, and that can lead to some big-time deals.
  4. Send a sample - My friend Dan Miller, founder of the 48 Days seminars and book series, recently answered an inquiry from a listener, live on his podcast. The gentleman was asking if Dan would be interested in picking up a sequel to one of his books which the guy had already written, in exchange for a percentage of sales. With the work already done, Dan leapt at the opportunity and signed the him on, immediately. This is not uncommon! If there's something you want to do, to produce, to write, then do it! Send it off and see what happens - with the work done, the company gets a great glimpse of what you can do and will recognize your hustle.
  5. Send a gift - This one is trickier than it sounds. It's tacky to send an edible arrangement to a curator, yes, but it's not so weird to send a hand-crafted thank-you of some kind. When I show my leathercraft work to galleries or merchants, I often will send them a small piece, such as a small mask or other stand-alone, with the thank-you note written on the back. I'm charmed to see my little thank-you's hanging near the reception area on subsequent return visits, and people who see them will of course, ask where they came from and who made them, leading to more business, even if I don't get the client right away.
  6. Offer to be of assistance in another way - This is the old "work like an intern" technique that is possibly one of the more effective strategies for getting in with a company you'd really like to do some business with. If a studio isn't hiring artists, they're probably still in the market for a guy to sweep the floors. If they don't need writers, they may yet need someone to help them layout pages in pre-press. A number of jobs that, let's be honest, often pay less and have none of the glory of your dream gig, are available right now, at your dream company. Caveat: despite the low-to-no pay, and lack of glamor, you must take these opportunities to connect and show your work ethic, seriously. Understand that if you do a great job, your efforts will very likely pay off, and the company will be more likely to take a chance on you for the job you want, in the future.
  7. Use social media - And as I said in the previous entry, this does not mean you should be using social media to harass, stalk or otherwise bother your prospects. Social media is great to keep up with people, to find out where a company whose business you want, will be showing their wares, and to bridge that gap between a faceless submitter of artwork to in-the-know talent.

I hope this brief guide does well to open your eyes to the possibilities of engaging your prospects after your first submissions packet has been mailed or you've given your initial pitch. Remember - to be successful, you must be service-minded. Once your customer gains confidence in what you can do for them, the deal will close on its own!

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