You met with a potential client. The meeting appeared to have gone well. You were "on fire" in the meeting. In fact, the client appeared to be blown away by your presentation. They asked you to send them more information. You sent them a compelling document after you returned to the office. But, that was four days ago... and they still have not returned the email. What happened?
Consider the Subject
When I say, "consider the subject" I don't mean the subject line. Rather, was the subject of your email your company's products and services, or was your email about the client's situation and how you could help them? The common mistake I see is a desire to reinforce how great you are instead of focusing on the issues that your client or prospect is facing. Each vendor can share countless stories of their own brilliance. However, the company that best demonstrates their understanding of the client's situation is likely to earn the business.
An Example Might Help
Which of the two following examples would catch your attention?
Dear Chris -- We enjoyed meeting with you. As you saw, my team and I at XZY Corporation have a ton of experience and expertise to help you address the challenges you described. We've done many projects just like your project. I've attached the resumes of some of our super-smart individuals who could work on your project. Notice that each person has an impressive pedigree. We've sent the contract for you to review. Once you sign the agreement, we can make our people available for your project. Let's plan to get started in the next two weeks.
Dear Chris -- Thank you for sharing the details about your situation. You certainly have some challenges ahead of you. Having successfully supported several clients in a similar situation, we were especially impressed by how you have already taken steps to reduce the risk of any catastrophic outcomes. From our discussion, you made it clear why time is of the essence in solving this matter in the next two months. If you would like our help, and if meeting that deadline is important to you, then we should plan to get started within the next two weeks. Please let me know how we should proceed together.
Both examples talk about the client's situation. However, notice how the first example is centered on the vendor's team, whereas the second example focuses on the client's situation. Though it might appear to be a subtle difference, this change is what can help to put you and your client on the same side of the table. Example 2 is a much stronger version.
Remember How Executives Make Decisions
The first parameter for how executives make decisions about a purchase is "Why do we need it," or "What problem does it solve?" By recounting their situation in your email, the client has an opportunity to associate your email with solving their issue. If you focus on your staff and qualifications, then you just sound like someone trying to sell something.
This also means that during your meetings, you need to spend time discussing your client's situation instead of talking about your capabilities. As much as you might enjoy speaking about your firm and your capabilities, your client's favorite topic might just be themselves. When faced with that choice, choose your client. The more you can focus on their challenges and desired outcomes, the more comfortable they will be with seeking your assistance. Ironically, the more you focus your attention on their needs, the less they will feel a need to interrogate you about your qualifications. Then, when you send them an email, you'll be able to address topics they find interesting... namely, their own issues and goals.
It's Your Turn
What approach do you use for follow-up emails to prospective clients? Is it working for you? If not, then give the 'focuses on the client's situation' approach a try and let me know how it works out by either entering a comment for the article, or sending me an email.
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