Following up with prospective clients


Most people don’t hire you the first time they speak to you, visit your website or watch your presentation. You need to follow up.

When you follow-up you get more clients.

But how? And when? What do you say, what do you offer, what do you send them? How often should you contact them?

That’s what you need to figure out.

You need a follow-up plan for each point of contact with prospective clients, and each stage of the “buying process”.

Your plan should spell out what you will do

  • after a free consultation–in the office and on the phone (they’re different)
  • with people you meet at networking events
  • with people who attend your presentation (in person, online)
  • with people who subscribe to your newsletter or download your report
  • with first-time clients, to convert them to repeat clients and stimulate referrals
  • with lapsed clients
  • and so on.

Your plan should also answer the following questions:

  1. Who? Should you follow-up personally or can an assistant do it? Should you do it the first time and then have someone on your staff do it?
  2. When? You’ll want to send a “thank you” or “nice to meet you” note immediately but what’s the schedule for additional follow-ups? How often? Over what period of time?
  3. How? Calls, emails, letters? A combination? Should you text? Invite to lunch or coffee? What can you automate?
  4. What? What will you say? What will you ask? What will you tell them or invite them to do?

You also need a follow-up plan for the professionals and prospective referral sources you meet.

Your plan doesn’t need to be complex, nor do you need to figure out everything in advance. Start with one point of contact and one or two follow-ups; once you have this in place, you can add more.

But start. Because in business, the fortune is in the follow-up.

If you need help creating or implementing your plan, let me know.


Following up with leads


My wife visited a real estate website and filled out a form to get some information. As you might expect, an agent called and left a message, offering information, encouraging my wife to call, yada yada. She did the same thing via text.

My wife didn’t respond, so naturally, the calls and texts continued.

A month later, they’re still coming.

My wife thought she would be nice and put the agent out of her misery. She called and politely told her that our plans had changed and we weren’t interested in getting more information.

The agent’s messages had been cheerful and positive. When my wife told her our plans had changed, the agent’s demeanor did a 180. She wasn’t rude or dismissive. More like defeated and unhappy.

When my wife told me the story, she said she would never want to work with an agent who is that moody.

What agent of any experience doesn’t know that leads are a numbers game and that most don’t turn into sales? What agent lets people who say “not interested” (which should be interpreted as “not now”) hear their disappointment?

What a missed opportunity.

A “no” today might be a “yes” tomorrow. Or a referral. Sadly, my wife and others we may assume, won’t contact Miss unhappy pants if and when things change.

Of course, this never happens to most lawyers. That’s because most lawyers don’t follow-up with inquiries and leads, even with people they’ve spoken to. They don’t follow-up at all.

And that’s even worse.

When someone contacts you to ask questions or get information, don’t give up on them if they don’t take the next step. Stay in touch, offer more information, and continue to let them know how you can help.

Should you call or text? Maybe once or twice in the beginning. Have your staff do it. After that, use email and snail mail.

They were interested once. They may be interested again. Follow-up until they buy or die. Or tell you to stop. And no matter what, never let them see you sweat.

They may never buy but they can send you referrals


Follow up until they buy or die


How many times do you follow up with a prospective client? Over what period of time? What do you say, what do you do, what do you offer?

Do you call, to see if they got the information you sent them? Do you send a letter or email to follow-up after a free consultation? Do you send a note to thank them for attending your seminar?

And what do you do after that?

Following-up is different from staying in touch. Follow-up is planned in advance, a natural series of “next steps” after initial contact. When you follow-up with a prospective client (who might be a former client or even an existing client with another matter), you fan the flames of their need for help and guide them towards taking the next step.

Decide in advance how you will follow-up so you can execute without thought or delay.

Work out all of the steps. What will you say or do, what will you send them, how often?

Someone emails you or fills out the form on your website, asking questions. How will you respond? What will you invite them to do? How many times will you follow-up? Over what period of time?

Someone attends a seminar but doesn’t make an appointment. How will you follow-up? What will you offer? If they don’t respond, what will you do next?

Someone needs help but they have a small window of time. They need to hire an attorney this week or this month or it will be too late. You need to do more follow-ups in less time and you need to be more urgent. What will you say? What will you do?

Figure it out. Have the letters written, ready to send, before the next prospective client contacts you.

At some point, follow-up will blend into staying in touch. The initial courtship will have run its course and the client has either hired you or they have not. You shift gears from follow-up to staying in touch, but you don’t stop. You never stop.

You keep your name in front of them, reminding them that you’re still available to help them with their problem or with something else. You follow-up and you stay in touch until they buy or they die.

Because you never know when someone will finally be ready to take the next step.

Get more prospective clients so you can turn them into actual client. This will help 


The Fortune is in the Follow-up


One of the most important aspects of marketing any business or professional practice is follow-up. For many, it’s also one of the most challenging.

Because they must, most attorneys have a process for communicating with existing clients. This process is driven by the demands of the case or legal matter. Copies are mailed, calls are made to discuss strategy, progress reports are sent on a pre-determined schedule. Once the case is settled or the matter is completed, however, follow-up is often done haphazardly and too often, not at all.

And then there’s everyone else.

  • Prospective clients
  • Former clients
  • Referral sources/professional contacts/”friends of the firm”
  • Prospective referral sources
  • Bloggers/editors/publishers
  • Meeting planners
  • Etc.

Each category has a different purpose. Following-up with former clients, for example, can lead to repeat business, updates, referrals, traffic to your website or sign-ups for your event. Following-up with bloggers can lead to guest posts, interviews, and links to your web content. Following-up with prospective clients can lead to new cases or engagements but can also lead to referrals.

Within each category are individuals who are further along in their relationship with you and thus more likely to respond to your contact. There are also individuals who have more potential than others, e.g., a prospective referral source who is well known in your target market, a prospective client who could bring you a lot of business, etc.

I’m sure you appreciate the value of following-up with these people. You know that former clients are your best source of new business (repeat, referrals). You know that staying in touch with prospective clients is good for business.

But how do you manage everything?

You start by creating lists. There are many software solutions for doing that. Pick one. Import your existing database or create new lists manually. It is time well spent.

Add a code or tag or field to each contact in your database so you can sort your lists by type and date range and other criteria. For example, you should be able to do a sort and find a list of former clients with whom you haven’t spoken OR emailed in more than 90 days.

Now what?

You’re almost there. The hard part is done. Now, you just need a plan for staying in touch with everyone. There are three parts to the plan:

  1. Schedule. How often will you contact them?
  2. Media. Will you use email, phone, regular mail, or social media?
  3. Content. For example will you send them personal emails, a general newsletter, or both?

You’ll probably find it easier to start with one category. Create a plan for following-up with former clients, for example. Once that’s done, you can consider other categories.

Once you have things set up, flag key individuals for customized follow-ups. You’ll want to call certain people more often, for example, or call some people but only send email to others.

This may seem a daunting task but if you take it step by step, you can do it. Once you have, you’ll be glad you did.

Marketing is easy, when you know The Formula


The two stages of following up with prospective clients


So, someone is interested. You talked to them about how you can help them, they came to a seminar, or requested information. You may or may not know where they are in terms of hiring you (or not), but you understand that following up with prospective clients can bring you a lot of business.

What do you do?

Following up with prospective clients (and this can include former clients who have inquired about another one of your services) should be done in two stages.

Stage one takes place soon after the initial conversation, consultation, or request for information. How soon depends on the nature of their problem. For most legal issues we’re talking days, not months.

In stage one, you contact them frequently and send them lots of information.

Your letters and emails (and calls, possibly) have an element of urgency. If you have made an offer for a free or discounted service, there is a deadline, the clock is ticking, and you remind them about this often, right up until the deadline has expired.

You or someone in your office should call them. Ask if they want to schedule an appointment to get started. Ask if they reviewed the information you sent. Ask if they have any questions. You have to assume they will be making a decision soon and that they have or will talk to other attorneys. You want them to choose you.

Stage two follow-up is for prospective clients who went through stage one but did not hire you. They may have hired another lawyer or done nothing. The legal situation that precipitated their first contact with you has either passed or is under control. They may hire you for that matter at some point in the future, or for something else.

Stage two is your “drip list”.

You contact them less frequently, and with less urgency. You send them a little bit of information (about your services, about their legal issues) from time to time. You don’t wait months but you don’t send them something every day.

You might invite them to another event, offer them a free or discounted service (or renew your original offer), or encourage them to call with questions. You gently remind them that you are still handling the kinds of matters they first inquired about, and you tell them about your other services or practice areas.

Stage one follow-up runs its course in matter of days or weeks. Stage two follow-up takes place forever. Someone who talked to you today may hire you ten years from now, if you stay in touch with them. They may never hire you but send referrals.

Your might fold your drip list into your newsletter list. After all, they have the same purpose.

Learn more about following up with email and how to Make the Phone Ring