The Importance of the Follow-Up, and the Art of Doing it Well

We have all been there. You send out a ton of proposals, and then get busy doing other things. Whether you are an independent contractor, a company with a fleet of trucks, or even a wholesaler… there are always proposals, with the right follow-up, that could become sales. Don’t let these missed opportunities become lost revenue just because you never heard back. Below we will outline some steps to take to make follow-ups easy!

1: Why is the Follow Up So Important?

The answer of course, seems pretty straight forward. What if someone never got your email? What if they keep meaning to respond but are just busy? What if they are unsure about the cost of something you suggested but don’t want to admit it’s out of their price range?

All these reasons, and more, are why following up on proposals you send out are crucially important. However, the most important factor in following up, is that it takes the responsibility to seal the deal off the customers and onto you. Good follow-up also gives the message to a client that their business is important to you, and that the experience they will receive with your company is personalized.

2: Stay Organized! Keep a Proposal Calendar

Instead of sending proposals out randomly or right when you get back to the office after meeting with a client, it can be beneficial instead to take notes and create a communications calendar to keep track of when you sent proposals out, and if you have heard back from customers.

  • Pick one or two days a week when you send out proposals, and then pick a day or time that is your follow-up

For example:

May 1                                      May 6                                         May 12                                       May 20      

John Proposal: sent via email Murphy Proposal: sent via email Follow Up John proposal via text Follow Up Murphy proposal (they wanted to start before Memorial Day Weekend)
Smith Proposal: sent via paper mail Lerner Proposal: sent via paper mail Follow Up Smith proposal (client confirmed on May 3. Work to begin May 9) Follow up Lerner proposal: this time via phone call
Klein Proposal: sent via email Watkins Proposal: sent via email Follow Up Klein Proposal (email is bouncing back, try phone call) Follow Up Watkins proposal (client going to postpone work until Fall)


3: Use a Variety of Follow Up Methods

The worst feeling is if you think a salesperson is pressuring you just to make a sale. However, in the green industry you aren’t just a “salesperson”. You are a skilled tradesperson in the field of outdoor living and growing. The proposals you send out are because someone called you looking for expertise on a project. Thus, it is important when you do your follow-ups that you gently encourage homeowners to commit.  Let them know “this is best to make a decision in the next week or two before the ground freezes”, or “if we want to get you a good price on new bushes, I recommend we do it in the next two weeks”.

You can convey this artful messaging through a variety of methods. If you have sent one or two emails without a response, then try switching to a phone call or text messaging. Always refer to the original proposal request during follow-ups, and even when using different methods to follow up, always remember to ask the ultimate follow-up statement: “I just want to make sure you received the proposal and to see if you had any questions for me.”

In addition, don’t leave the follow-up open ended. Use a firm call-to-action statement at the end of each contact. “I will try you again in a few days.” or “Try reaching me today to secure a start date.”

4. Take Notes and Use Them

The only thing worse than proposals left out in the wind to never become sales, is pushing a potential client away from your company because of poor communication. As referenced above, keep a calendar of each contact/method for each client so you aren’t asking too little, too often, or in too many repetitive ways. Also make note of things such as:

  • Ways to connect (i.e. you both loved the Yankees, you both have a dog, etc)
  • The customer’s pain points and problems they are trying to solve (Remember, you aren’t just selling a product, you are selling a solution to their problem!)
  • Include links or photos they might find relevant (i.e. why switching to organic is worth the investment, what different types of hedges will look like full grown, etc)
  • If you have already mentioned to them any special offers or limited time discounts that you don’t want them to miss out on
  • Mention pricing and offer to break down a proposal into smaller jobs or more attainable goals if a customer seems hesitant to begin
  • Offer to make additional product suggestions if they didn’t love the first ideas (i.e. maybe they don’t want a hedge that flowers, or maybe they didn’t love the brass lighting fixture etc)
  • Did you mention to them if you have financing options so they can start now and pay as they go? If financing isn’t something you yet offer, reach out to Central to learn more about how our Savings4Members program can help you offer quality financing options for your customers.

Lastly, don’t be afraid of the follow ups. The worst that happens is you don’t land a job that you might not have gotten anyway. But if successfully done, follow ups could lead to more jobs each season that might otherwise have gone to a different landscaper or to no one at all. Rely on Central to help, whether it’s questions about marketing strategy, strategic purchasing, or business planning. Central is the right partner for your business. We stay at the leading edge of the industry and we’re ready to help you grow!