How To Get Corporate Clients: The Ultimate Guide

Follow-Up Techniques to Win More Corporate Clients


Introduction to Winning Corporate Clients

Critical Success Factors for Winning Corporate Clients

How to Target the Best and Most Valuable Corporate Clients for You

4 Powerful Lead Generation Strategies for Corporate Clients

Follow-Up Techniques to Win More Corporate Clients

Selling to Corporates: the Best Approaches for Enrolling Clients

Resources for Winning Corporate Clients

The vast majority of leads you generate with corporate clients won't be ready to buy when you initially make contact. Either because the timing isn't right and they're still in the early stages of their buying process. Or because you just haven't built up enough credibility and trust yet.

Add in the fact that you have to do this with multiple decision-makers in a corporate environment and that those decision makers have to reach agreement on what they actually want, and it's clear why sales cycles to corporate clients are long and complex.

That means that following up after your initial contact is absolutely crucial.

The ideal scenario is that you make contact with key influencers in the client organisation early on as they're discovering or exploring the challenge they'll later hire someone to help with. Then over time you build credibility and trust while helping to inform and shape their thinking.

So by the time it comes to hiring someone, you're in pole position.

Following up in this context means doing it in ways that add value and help your potential clients make progress. It doesn't mean chasing them, nagging them or otherwise trying to get something from them.

If your only follow up is to ask them if they're ready to look at an opportunity,  or to progress with a proposal or any other form of nagging then pretty soon they'll come to dread your calls and emails. They'll screen you out and try to avoid you.

That means that with the vast majority of your follow-up communications you're going to be sending useful, valuable information to them. Or connecting them with people they'll find helpful, or inviting them to events they'll find useful, or sharing industry news.

But to do that, you need to know what it is they're actually going to value. Which means that follow-up actually starts with your first interaction.

The role of your first contact in follow-up

If you're going to follow up effectively you need to know what kind of things your potential clients actually care about. Because, of course, those are the topics that they'll pay attention to if you use them in your follow-up.

For example, if you're a sales trainer, you might find out that your potential client's main issue is getting more business from their existing clients. In that case you're going to have more success following up by sharing useful insights into account based marketing or cross-selling than you are sending them information about cold calling or networking.

Knowing what their big goals, aspirations, problems and challenges are helps you know what would be a useful follow-up communication for them.

You can also add in non-work related topics to the mix. Perhaps they're a huge fan of their local sports team. Or of opera, or a certain genre of fiction. All these give you more topics you can keep in contact with them about (provided you share that interest, of course).

The business topics they care about are the core of your follow-up. But the non-work topics can build your relationship too.

How do you find out what they care about?

By asking questions.

If you're using one of the lead generation methods we've already talked about then you should have a good idea of the main business issues they're facing. But you can deepen and broaden your knowledge and give yourself more topics to follow up on by asking smart questions.

And if you've met the potential client by another method - at an event or via a more casual introduction for example, then these questions will be vital to give you something to follow-up on.

The exact questions you ask will depend on the circumstances and what you know already about your prospect. But questions that have worked well for me in the past include:

“What are the big challenges you see in your industry right now?” (substitute the name of their industry or sector)

“The big issues many of my clients are focusing on right now are X, Y and Z - are those things you're seeing, or is something else a priority for you?” (substitute the names of the most common problems or challenges your clients typically face)

“Are you working on anything interesting right now?”

“Do you have any big goals or ambitions for your business/unit/team/role over the next year or so?”

Note: you don't want to make your questions too threatening. In a first meeting, most people will feel they don't know you well enough to tell you their deepest, darkest fears and problems in their business.

So notice in the first two questions I ask them about the challenges they see in their industry generally, rather than in their specific business. That doesn't come across as threatening. But nine times out of ten, they'll answer by telling you about their own specific challenges – because those are the ones they know the most about.

In the other questions I ask them about their ambitions or the interesting things they're working on. It's much less threatening to talk about an ambition or a goal than a problem. But if you do have a problem that's top of mind, often you'll mention your ambition or goal to solve it. So this kind of “phrasing on the upside” of questions can elicit responses about their problems if they want to reveal them, without it feeling like you're being too intrusive early on.

And obviously, you don't launch straight into detailed questioning as the first thing you say to them. You generally engage in smalltalk first: talking about the speaker if you met at an event for example, or how they met the person who introduced you.

Don't overlook the role of this gentle questioning in initial contacts. You might feel pressure to talk about yourself and make a good impression. But unless you find out about them, you'll have very little to follow up about.

Now let's talk about how you manage follow up on an ongoing basis. And for that, it's useful to differentiate between your Perfect 10 and Dream 100 prospects.

Follow Up with your Perfect 10 Corporate Clients

Your Perfect 10 prospects are your very highest potential clients. And as such, they're worthy of investing significantly in follow-up.

I recommend you build a 2-weekly review into your schedule where you spend a little time looking at each of your Perfect 10 clients organisations and the individuals within them and thinking about how you can follow up in a way that's valuable for both you and them.

Use the information you gleaned from your initial contact plus any additional research you do - e.g. from their Linkedin profile, company website, google searches, information from common contacts, etc.
Based on what this tells you about what they might find valuable, think through what you might be able to do for follow up in the next few weeks.

You won't be able to think of something every review. But by reviewing every 2 weeks you'll probably be able to think of something every month or two months. And going through the thought process means you'll be more attuned to the potential for valuable follow up in the intervening period between reviews.

Examples of the types of follow up you could do include:
  • Sending an article (ideally, one you've written yourself) – either via email or printed
  • Sending a copy of a book you recommend
  • Introducing them to a useful business contact
  • Inviting them to an event you think they'd find useful
  • Recommending a tool, service, piece of software, etc.
  • Sharing some industry news or gossip
  • Just calling for a more casual chat if you've established a good relationship with them
This kind of personalised follow up is often time consuming - that's why you reserve it for your Perfect 10. But it can also really set you apart from competitors taking a more standardised and mechanical approach to follow up.

Follow Up with your Dream 100 Corporate Clients

For your Dream 100 where each individual client doesn't have so much potential, you're going to follow up in a more standardised way.

So rather than reviewing each individual client and following up with something specific for them, you're going to do the same follow up for each client in the Dream 100 group (with potentially a small degree of tailoring or deciding that a particular follow up isn't right for a client and just not doing it).
In this case you may look at doing something every month, two months or quarterly. You can use many of the same follow-up steps as with your Perfect 10 - for example, sending an article, a copy of a book, sharing industry news, etc.  The difference is you'll send the same article or book or news to everyone in your Dream 100 rather than selecting something specific for them.

Depending on how they react, or new information you might find out about them,  you may "promote" them to your Perfect 10 if they show potential, or remove them from your Dream 100 if they don't show any interest. 

Turning your Corporate Client Follow Up into a System

The key to follow up is that you have to actually do it.

And that means that the more you can turn your follow up into a repeatable system that you can use without having to re-invent the wheel every time, the more success you're going to have with it.

The first step is to schedule regular time into your agenda for your follow up activities - not to try to fit them in when you can.
Next is to set up repeatable "nurture campaigns" and a database of nurture activities you can use again and again for different potential clients (with some tailoring for each one).

For example, a sales trainer might have a series of articles, videos and other resources related to lead generation, another set related to sales meetings and another set related to negotiations. Depending on the interests of a potential client they meet, they can select the appropriate set and start using them in their follow up rather than creating completely unique activities each time. 

You can build up your campaigns over time - you don't need to set them all up in advance. Whenever you follow up with a new potential clients just check to see whether the activity you've just done can be turned into a new campaign or added into an existing one.

Of course, you don't just mindlessly do the same thing with each potential client. You check first to see if the particular nurture activities are appropriate to that client. And depending on how they respond, you then act accordingly.

But by turning follow up into a system you can save a lot of time - and most importantly, you can make sure it actually gets done

Next step

Selling to Corporate Clients

Learn how to convert your relationships with corporate clients into paying clients:

  • High Value Briefings
  • Sales Meetings
  • Requests for Proposals and Competitive Tenders

Learn more about  Selling to Corporates