How Does a Business Consultant Follow Up with Their Clients?


Aaron Hall: I’m Aaron Hall, a business attorney in Minneapolis. Today we’re talking with Michael Cavitt of Cavitt Associates. Michael’s a business consultant. Michael, you work with business owners, funder raising professionals, and sales professionals on the follow-up process. Let’s use our law firm as a guinea pig here, to see how would you apply these concepts to us? So first off, our target market is business owners. Business owners may contact us with a problem like, “Hey, we as business owners aren’t getting along.”, or “We owe somebody a lot of money.”, or “A lot of money is owed to us.”, maybe “We have a breach of contract with a significant business partner.”, whether that be a distributor or a business owner. Regardless, there are some big legal issues, and it’s always the business owner. They contact us initially. How would you—What kind of questions would you ask us to develop a follow-up process for nurturing those relationships?

Michael Cavitt: Okay. Aaron, what percentage of the people who make an initial contact with you are ready to take action, do you think? Roughly?

Aaron Hall: Often they contact us—I’d say 50 percent contact us during the heat of the moment. When the emotions are high, they’re ready to take action. The other 50 percent are still testing the waters, trying to gather some educational information, and figure out what are their options when they need to make that decision.

Michael Cavitt: Okay. In the second group, what do you currently do to stay in touch with them?

Aaron Hall: Currently, we respond to their initial request. And then we set reminders to follow-up based on how long the attorney believes they’ll need to contemplate things. Typically that’s anywhere between 2 days and 2 weeks, depending on how quickly the process is moving.

Michael Cavitt: Okay. And in the second group, what percentage, would you say, will take action within—was it a 2-week window?

Aaron Hall: I think for those who are delaying things a bit, it ends up being about 20 percent, maybe 30 percent, who actually end up taking action and hiring us to work with them.

Michael Cavitt: So is that 20 percent of 50 percent? Or 20 percent of the original hundred?

Aaron Hall: 20 percent of 50 percent.

Michael Cavitt: So you’ve got 10 percent of the original group. 50 are ready to take some action right now. You pick up another 10 percent in your current program. So what we’re looking at then is the original, it’s 40 percent of the original group. What do you do now to stay in touch with them long term?

Aaron Hall: We will continue to follow-up on whatever basis we determine based on the last contact with them, until they say, “We don’t need it. We don’t need further help.”, or they actually hire us. And then for those who don’t hire us, we’ll typically make contact with them once every 3 months by offering either a legal resource relevant to their business, or an event that they can attend to get information or education.

Michael Cavitt: And what tools are you using? I’m assuming the telephone is one.

Aaron Hall: Perhaps, normally it’s done by email. So we’ll use either mass email software for event invitations, things like that, that would be anything from Eventbrite, to, to individual mass mailing software. Alternatively, it might be an individual email from somebody in the firm here because we’ve particularly identified an event or an issue relevant to that person.

Michael Cavitt: Does your email software have an opening click-through register in there so you can tell what percentage are actually reading the emails and taking an action, if there’s an option?

Aaron Hall: One software does, the other one does not.

Michael Cavitt: Okay. What we would do, and let me–First thing we would do is to analyze what those results are and see if you’re happy with it. Because there are two general categories of follow-up. One is the written word and you’re primarily using email, and the other is the spoken word. And so it’s most effective to have a mix there. And so looking at your quick through rates, and deciding if there are some of the emails that can go out and print. Because even when we see and we’re going, “Oh. This kind of looks like a junk piece.”, we’re going to open it. And particularly if there’s an option for sending a postcard or a greeting card, the higher probability is that people’s going to open them. And this is even more true when you’re doing appreciation, when you had somebody come in and do—work with you on a matter and you solve that or help them resolve it. Then the appreciation for the business, getting something concrete, has a big impact.

Aaron Hall: So one recommendation is use multiple media—so phone, paper, postcard or mailing, as well as email—to connect with people in whatever area or means they feel most comfortable. And also it rounds out that message. So they’re getting it from multiple media.

Michael Cavitt: Exactly. And so in general, what I do is come in and do the same kind of an analysis, look at what you’re doing, and evaluate the effectiveness. And then look at the two categories of spoken and written, and what can be done additionally. So when we’re looking at written, and we’ve got letters, greeting cards, post cards, emails, twitter, are 5 off the top of my head. In the spoken word, we’ve got the telephone, we’ve got MP3 files, we’ve got videos, and as we’re doing here today, creating a video. And the fact in what I’ve seen recently is, Cisco is saying that by the end of 2014, 90 percent of emails will be video. So the video then allows us not only the spoken, but we’ve also got the non-verbal communication in there as well. So it’s looking at all of these options, putting together the set for each campaign that’s appropriate for that category of prospect or customer.