"Keep in touch with your prospect and client base regularly and relentlessly within 90 days. Less than 90 days is fine, but never let more than 90 days go by without contact – which is approximately 60 working days.
Proven by Saatchi and Saatchi's London advertising agency over twenty years and (accidentally) by me during my time with the Inter-Continental Hotel Group in Australia, this is the missing link in most people's business development process. It was certainly missing in mine for far too many years.
I well remember those crazy conversations where we asked the 'gurus' how often we should stay in touch and they answered, 'As often as necessary'. Now intensive research has shown us that 90 days is how often."
Wendy goes on to detail example after example of how this 90 day contact rule has worked in countless industries, countries and markets.
"In London: What Saatchi & Saatchi found was that the people they had been contacting by phone and face to face had a clear enough memory of the previous call and conversation for up to 90 days. After that, it was as though the mind had cleared itself of all memory.
In Hong Kong: At Saatchi & Saatchi's Hong Kong agency, working for our client Procter and Gamble, we stayed in touch with 100,000 mothers every three months, advising them that their babies were growing slowly and steadily and it was time to move up to the next size of Pampers. We enclosed a 'price-off' voucher to make their next purchase very affordable.
Our research had showed that mothers blamed the Pampers product when the baby grew too big for its previous size to be effective. Because of this, around 50 per cent of mothers in other countries had stopped buying disposable diapers. We did not want that to happen in Hong Kong!
Through this quarterly educational program, we grew our market share from 13 per cent to 42 per cent and each point was worth US$1 million over the life cycle of the product.
More in London: At Saatchi's executive recruitment company, I used the 90-day cycle for having open days and top-name speakers, like Charles Handy and Sir John Harvey Jones, to attract prospects into the offices of MSL, where they would meet and get to know the staff. With 400 major companies as our prospects, we gained many of them within two years.
New York: My client, a small start-up company called IMCOR: the Interim Management Corporation, had been choking the life out of too few friends. We identified 8000 more prospects through the use of the commonality survey across America, and contacted them by mail and follow-up phone call every three months.
By the fifth cycle of mailing and phone calls, IMCOR were getting around 60 per cent acceptance to appointments to discuss the use of their very senior interim / temporary management executives. This is the normal success rate with the regular, relentless follow-up within 90 days."
Wendy goes on to say...
"Even if your customers and prospects will probably not buy again for a few years (for example, another car), you still have to keep in touch once every three months so that you'll be in the running when they are ready to purchase again."
And she summarises with these important points...
- "Build relationships regularly and relentlessly, creatively and caringly. Make regular contact within 90 days. You can wait less than 90 days if you wish, but never more than 90 days, otherwise you lose more than you gain.
- Keep moving – simply send a note, a greeting card, what-ever, if you do not reach your prospects or clients by phone, and keep on regularly and relentlessly. One day you will get through to those well-chosen likely buyers and they will remember you from your regular communications. Always enclose your business card.
- If you want to kick-start your business super-fast, stay in touch every week, every fortnight, every month, or every two months.
- If you have more time, use the full three month cycle. Why? Because prospects and clients can feel threatened if you contact too often; 90 days seems the perfect time scale for feeling nurtured.
- Keep your clients in your prospect base, as you will always get more business from people who are already happy dealing with you."
Does this work? You bet it does.
These test results have been borne out time after time by our clients in all kinds of businesses, all over the UK.
But if you are still sceptical then do exactly what we always recommend - test, test, test.
Take a small, but meaningful, group of prospects and stay in touch with them at least every 90 days for up to 8 contacts or 12 months. Then, compare the conversion rates with other prospects identified at the same time who were followed up in your usual way (your control group).
Typically we find that you can increase conversion rates by 15% to 100% by taking this approach.
Is doubling sales OK with you? Is it worth testing?
I hope you think so.