Earlier this week I gave a promotional talk at ASAE's annual conference. Like any other sales/marketing effort, the objective was to gather qualified leads that would convert into 2010 speaking gigs.
The secret to this system goes beyond the actual performance at the event, it is a matter of follow up. After my talk at the book signing, I gathered about ten good leads for future events. Within 48 hours, I made sure that the leads were properly distributed to my agent partner to call and close on. Furthermore, I gathered two PR leads for my upcoming relaunch of Saving The World At Work. Those have been followed up on and look like solid hits for late this Fall.
The speed of the follow up is everything. I'm surprised how slow we can be to "seize the opportunity" for future sales or promotion. I've found that for every day you wait to follow up, you likely cut the odds of conversation by at least 10%. Wait a few weeks, and it's a dead lead.
Business is not like dating, you don't wait three days to call back! You should always err on the side of too-quick of a follow up to connect while you are still top of mind. In our information overload world, this is more true that ever. In fact, I think you have LESS time to follow up on a hot lead than you did a few years ago. Much like your social media stream, the time line moves a little faster with each passing day.
Takeaway: Follow up on leads within one day. If you delegate follow up, follow up on the delegation within 48 hours. Always be closing, even on the first follow up. If it is a sales opp, put an agreement in front of the prospect to look at and sign. If it is PR, close in on an issue or broadcast date you will be a part of. The more you shorten the distance between interest and conversion, the more value you will capture from your sales and marketing efforts.