Bruce Johnston in WiredtoGrow provides an elegantly simple business-building solution for anyone who has been around a while, serving clients who only need your services occasionally.
It is the “keep in touch call” and he suggests a format for you to follow if you haven’t done this sort of thing in a while (and most likely you haven’t).
There are different ways to approach the revisiting call, but he suggests the best approach would be to make a phone call, and if there isn’t a response, then send an email. The wording you would use would be something like this:
“Hi, Bob, Bruce Johnson here. How are you doing? [Small talk] Hey, the reason I’m calling is because I was just thinking about you and realized that I haven’t touched base with you in the past three years and that’s just wrong. That’s not how I want to do business. So, I just wanted to call and apologize. I promise to do better moving forward.”
The one rule of this “keep in touch” call is you are NOT to ask for business (you can save the “ask” request for the second communication) which you could set out with an observation something like this:
“So, moving forward, I want to do better at staying in touch. So, you tell me, would you prefer for me to touch base with you quarterly, semi-annually or annually?”
During the call/communication, Johnston suggests you provide something of value for the client. What this is could depend on their circumstance or needs; such as a referral to someone who can help them, an observation about a shared interest, or discuss something they care about.
But he reminds us we don’t need to make a big deal about it — because most service providers don’t provide this follow-up communication.
The result: Even without “asking” on the first call, you’ll find many former clients have a more immediate need, or they know someone who does, and then you’ll win the referral. In follow-up communications, when you can be more explicit in your referral request communications (though Johnston says you need to randomize these requests so they don’t seem artificial or manipulative), you’ll pick up more business.
So, there you go. The simplest, easiest, and fastest way to generate more referrals and business in the next ninety days is— touching base with your customers/clients more frequently.
Remember that most businesses never stay in touch
Let go of the “length of time” issue
Start with an apology
Don’t try to do any business on your first call
Don’t be surprised at what happens from that first call
Set up a regular schedule of asking
How often should you do this sort of thing?
“I’d suggest you shoot for five contacts per day or per week as a good place to start. If you simply do that, I have a feeling you’ll be surprised 90 days from now at how many more referrals and new business opportunities you have.”