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Prospect Follow-Up: The Need for Speed

by Elaine Fogel  |  
September 4, 2007

Does it take long for your dog to chow down a treat when you offer it? Dogs know what the immediate benefits are, so they grab what they can get. Well, it's the same in business. When a prospect contacts your company or organization, dangling a carrot with business or money, how fast do you or your staff respond?

My husband is in the promotional-products business, a highly competitive end of marketing. When prospects ask him for a quote, whether it's for 500 units or 150,000, he gets it to them within 24 hours, more often within a couple of hours or less if he's in the office. His prospects and customers are always amazed at his quick response. Their experiences haven't been as positive with other suppliers. and they're usually thrilled at this level of customer service.

I, too, have had similar experiences. I recently sent an email to a colleague asking whether his company was interested in taking on a prospect who called me first. The project was related to work I had done previously but not frequently, and I felt it would be in the client's best interest to use a company that specialized in her project area.

I didn't receive a reply to my email, so when I saw this colleague at a meeting the next day I asked whether he had seen my email. No, he said, but if I send him the details again, he'd be in touch. Well, that day came and went, as did the following two business days.

Perhaps, some companies are just so busy handling the work they already have on their plates that they don't care about the prospects that get away. They're overwhelmed. But, what happens when business slows or the market changes? What then? Those original prospects have likely found other suppliers who have provided better response and service. (Talk about shooting yourself in the foot.)

It may seem obvious, but responding to prospects in a timely manner is paramount to customer acquisition and retention. Whether companies manage B2C or B2B relationships, the first businesses to reply to customer or client inquiries have a better chance at scoring than those who ignore them or respond too late.

People are often in a rush to get their needs fulfilled. Especially in the B2B market, decision-makers want things done yesterday. So, getting a foot in the door fast can lead to increased business.

As many studies have shown, it isn't always about price. Which of the following do you think has better value?

  • The supplier whose products or services are less expensive, but you have to chase him to get anywhere...
  • Or the supplier whose products or services cost a bit more but he's reliable and gets what you need, responding quickly.

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Elaine Fogel is president and CMO of Solutions Marketing & Consulting LLC, and a marketing and branding thought leader, speaker, writer, and MarketingProfs contributor. She is the author of the Beyond Your Logo: 7 Brand Ideas That Matter Most for Small Business Success.

LinkedIn: Elaine Fogel

Twitter: @Elaine_Fogel

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