VENTURES AFRICA  – ‘I’ll get back to you’ – that is one of the most common phrases that I hear from prospects regardless of the medium that I use to contact them- whether it is by phone, email or direct mail. Whether you own a marketing agency or you are a wholesaler, you have to be able to follow up with prospects and get them to listen to you.

My experiences for my business has shown me that when you look for clients, be prepared for an uphill battle from sorting out the prospects who are interested in what you are offering compared to the ones who are just responding for the hell of it.

Case in point 1: I got in touch with one company in the beauty industry to offer them our specialised marketing services. Within a six month period, we went back and forth. They even offered us some work and then pulled away. Follow up calls were ignored, emails were not returned and I stopped contacting them. I randomly decided to contact them via direct mail this time with a letter, and they got back in touch, only to disappear back into the abyss of follow up hell. Definitely consigning them to the close but no cigar part.

Case in point 2: I found a company in the leisure industry to offer them our content marketing services. Early promise after showing examples of our work and what we could do evaporated despite over 5+ follow up emails. Then silence for weeks – again out of the blue, I heard back from one of the owners of the company who wanted to know what we could do for them. I followed up again and again, only to be blanked by them.

Case in point 3: Through a cold enquiry, a B2B fashion company wanted to hear about what we could offer. Their agency made me jump through hoops: proposal naturally! After weeks and weeks of follow ups where an answer was promised, I persevered to the point where the answer was something to the tune of ‘we’ll let you know if we can use you’.  I should add that they had been interested to work with us (or at least their emails showed us this) and then poof, gone except this time, I don’t think they are coming back like Casper!

What I’ve learned

These three examples show the ups and downs of following up if you are selling services to businesses. But, it is very important to persevere through the hell and come out refined, with a good deal of course. For instance, If I had not followed up via email a few weeks ago with a B2B client, we would not have signed a new client for marketing work.

The lesson I have taken away from following up is to continue to follow up until you get an answer or after you have surpassed a specific number of attempts. My favourite number is 7, so I tend to follow up 7 times until I get a response, and if I don’t, I move on.

It can be tiring. But keep at it, until you exhaust those calls.

About the Author

Kagem Tibaijuka is the founder of Kagem Tibaijuka & Co,  a small-scale B2B marketing company based in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania. They have worked with companies like Peachy Loans, and Signature Car Hire.


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