The Art of Following Up

trade show boothThe show is over, and you have that stack of business cards. You know you should follow up. What now?


When you exhibit at a trade show, or meet potential customers at a business event or retail show, you have made in-person connections that won’t go anywhere unless you make another contact. It’s incredibly common that artists and others (even salespeople!) fail to properly follow up, and ultimately leave a lot of business on the table.

It takes an average of 5 – 12 contacts to close a sale. That means that yes, you do have to follow up. And then follow up some more. You don’t have to become a nuisance, but reminding people of your meeting, and bringing your work to their attention repeatedly over a period of time will help them to remember you.

What’s the best way to follow up? A simple phone call or email within a week of your meeting is usually best. These aren’t cold calls – they are warm calls, or even hot prospects. Since your prospect handed you their business card, they are giving you their contact information. That’s like an invitation to connect.

Choose a date on your calendar and write “Make Follow Up Calls” so that you are committing time for this all-important task. Then, dial the phone or write emails and take this opportunity to get to know your potential customer better. Do it promptly. Once too much time has passed, it will be more uncomfortable for you.

If your prospect is local, a phone call or perhaps an email asking if they have time to meet with you at their store is appropriate. And if they don’t call you back? Then touch base again. Never leave the ball in their court with a voicemail saying, “Please call me.” If you reach an assistant, ask for a good time to call them back. Then write it on your calendar and do it.

If your prospect has an interest in your art, but may not be ready to purchase, put them into a “drip marketing” campaign. If they haven’t opted in to your email newsletter, you can email them personally instead. Send postcards featuring your work on a regular basis. Send a line sheet with your new collection, an invitation to your open studio, or other announcements.

One way to stay in touch with prospects is to connect with them on social media. If they follow you, they will see your name and your work on a regular basis without your feeling intrusive. Make a comment on their Facebook page, follow them on Pinterest, and become part of their network. Then, when you approach them again about your line, you will be familiar and more readily received.

Even if your prospect is far away, and the only way you can follow up is by making a phone call that terrifies you, remember this: Your fears of being screamed at and hung up on are unfounded. The vast majority of gallery owners and other businesspeople are very polite, even if they are not interested in making a purchase. In fact, they are also in the business of making sales, so they understand what it’s like to speak to a prospect.

When you make those follow up contacts and stay in front of your potential customers, your sales will increase. Put this into action in your own business and reap the rewards of the follow-up.

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