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Follow-up Or Fall Down - Part 2

Furniture World Magazine


Tips on getting organized to follow-up properly.

Is it hard for you to get organized to start to do your follow-up? I had the same problem. My desk and my files always looked like they were in mid-explosion! You know the routine. The cards that are angled 45 degrees to the right are the people I must follow-up on. The cards tilting to the left are distinct possibilities, and the ones standing straight up have items on order.

Here's a system that worked for me. If it kept me organized it can keep anyone on track!

Buy a long file box to house 5x7 cards. You'll also need three sets of dividers:

  • Letters A-Z
  • Numbers 1-31;
  • The 12 Months.


A-Z your master file: Potential clients are filed first alphabetically. This is your master file. Everything you learned about your customer should be on this card. List her specific furniture needs, and the rooms she is now working on and will be focusing on in the future. Her children, pets, birthdays, anniversaries, hobbies, occupation, directions to her home, & whatever else you found out.

Your "tickler" copy: Take a blank 5x7 card and write only her name, phone number, and specific items of interest. What I call the "cliff note" version. Just list the bare bones - bottom line details. Keep it simple! Do not take the time to re-write everything. Remember, you are doing this to make your life easier.

Dividers 1-31: She came into see you on the 7th. She didn't buy anything today, so you told her you would call her in three days. (you did tell her, didn't you?) Now that "tickler" copy goes behind the 10th. The morning of the tenth you pull out all those cards & follow-up whoever you have filed there. This could include new customers, and people who were delivered on the 9th. Anyone that you need to call that day should be slotted behind #10.

Now your lists no longer have lists & you don't have massive piles of note cards buried all over your desk! This also eliminates the spiral notebook, and thumbing through page after page after page until you locate that name buried in there somewhere.

Dividers January- December: If you call only to find out that this purchase has to be put off until October. That's okay. File that "tickler" that was behind #10 behind (you guessed it!) October! This "tickler" or "floater" copy should constantly be "floating." Remember, we are now "mining for gold." Every time you communicate with her regarding special promotions, new products, or just "staying in touch," that "floater" should now be moved to the month when you told her you would contact her again. You didn't tell her? Call her in a couple of months just to let her know that you didn't fall off the planet. She's your client - she bought you. Of course she's going to be glad to hear from you!

Some consultants keep a fourth set of dividers on specific product categories. That way if a specific item goes on sale, they can go directly to that section and see who is interested. Works for me! It will work for you, too!

Remember to always keep the master copy filed alphabetically. Your "tickler" copies are your floaters. I don't want anyone getting lost in the shuffle here!

Now as you're reading this are you pondering how you could ever convert all your clients to this new system. Who can afford to take the time to do that? This is your company. You can't afford not to. But, let's keep it simple & make it easy. Set a goal to convert a specific number of clients each day and stick to it. Take the pie and cut it into small pieces that you can handle. When you break it down this way it is not so overwhelming.

Set up this system for your company. It's easy. It will keep you organized. It will make you more profitable. You will become more efficient and your clients will get better service.


Send out "thank you" notes to thank them for just stopping in.

If they didn't buy, but took the time out of their busy schedule to stop into the showroom. Did you appreciate this? Oh, yes! Now they're your new potential client! How many "thank you" notes have you received for just "stopping in?" I rest my case. These notes only need to be three or four lines. Keep it short & simple so you can do it fast!

Always send a "thank you" note after they purchase. This will set you apart and reinforce their buying decision from your store and you. By expressing your appreciation in writing, it also illustrates that yes, you are a class act!

Please do not send pre-printed thank you notes. How special is this if all you did was scribble your name at the bottom. That's what everyone else does. You, on the other hand, are a pro. Hand write them, make them personal, make an impression, for "Me, Inc."

Do not send post cards. People read a post card quickly, if at all & then pitch it!

A card in a sealed envelope seems much more special. That's why "Hallmark" is a "billion dollar company!" We like receiving and opening cards. It's a surprise. It's special. It's a gift to be opened. It's also one more sign that says, "you care enough to send the very best!"

Always include your business card in these "thank you's." as a mini-way of networking. Your customer already has your card. Now she can give this one to a friend."

There have been many discussions about enclosing business cards. Some people think it's pushy. It signals that you're trying to solicit more business. Well, isn't that what this is? You appreciate your customer's patronage, and you would also like to assist anyone else she may know who needs your expertise. You can't service the public if they don't know you exist.


Speaking of business cards... when do you present your card? I would recommend that you do this later in the selling relationship, immediately before she exits - not when she first enters. That's what every other clerk in town is doing. She crosses their threshold and they say, "my name's Cathy, here's my card. If you need anything let me know!" Wait a minute! Who's in control here? It certainly isn't you. That's why you see so many business cards littering retail parking lots and messing up the environment.

When your card is presented too early, there are too many subconscious messages being delivered:

  • "I gave you my card. You're dismissed!"
  • "I did my job. She will let me know if she needs anything!"
  • "I did my meeting and greeting. She just "wants to look!" OK, where's my next "up?

83% of the population is visual. When you present you card, later, she has your card. She's seeing your name in print. It's another step in helping her remember you. You've already established rapport with her. Now your card takes on a special meaning. It's important because you'll be staying in touch to assist her with her decision.

If possible, write specific information on the back of your card. Now there is a reason for her to hold onto it. This could include dimensions, appointments (see the September issue on the "Be-Back Bus!"), or prices.

Be careful listing prices. Always put an "effective until date" behind the price. This does two things. It creates a real sense of urgency for them to purchase and they can't come back two years from now and tell you, "this is the price I was just quoted!"

If you follow these guidelines for building and maintaining client relationships, you will be able to take "Me, Inc." into the next millennium. Follow-up or fall down. You decide!

Cathy Finney is President of Ancell Affiliates and "T'NT" (Trained & Talented). She is a noted motivational speaker, sales trainer and management consultant. Questions can be addressed to her care of FURNITURE WORLD at finney@furninfo.com.