Leslie Nolen is CEO of The Radial Group, which provides wellness businesses with seminars, publications and coaching on starting and managing profitable and personally rewarding businesses. E-mail her at lnolen@radialgroup.com or visit www.radialgroup.com to subscribe to free weekly business tips tailored to wellness businesses.

In Part 1, we identified the four key stages of effective sales and marketing strategies:

Stage 1: Filling the pipeline with prospects
Stage 2: Following up with prospects
Stage 3: Exploring ways your business can help prospects
Stage 4: Closing sales

You analyzed your current sales and marketing efforts with a self-scoring quiz that prioritized the stage requiring urgent attention.

In Part 2, you learned how to fill your pipeline with potential customers.

In Part 3, we explore ways to follow up with potential customers in your pipeline. And Part 4 tells you how to find the best fit between your business and your prospects and close the sale.

Part 3: Following Up with Prospects
You must follow up with prospects once they’re in your pipeline. Otherwise, you’ve wasted the time and money you invested in attracting these potential customers. Four tactics can help you stay on top of your follow-up process:

1. Assign responsibility and provide key resources. Make sure that your follow-up with prospects is a clearly assigned responsibility with specific performance goals. For example, respond to all incoming calls within one business day.

Staffers need the right resources and tools to follow up effectively. Perhaps you need to create talking points or qualifying questions for use in making follow-up calls. If your pipeline is extremely active, use a computerized system to make sure that follow-ups occur when appropriate. Back-office software for health clubs usually has this capability, as do inexpensive sales force automation tools like Act and Maximizer.

2. Approach prospects with integrity and authenticity. Find a comfortable way to make the initial contact with your prospects. “Comfortable” means an approach that feels authentic and honest to you and helpful and responsive to prospects.

Are you reluctant to follow up with prospects? You’re probably forcing yourself into an artificial sales mode that feels scripted or manipulative. Instead, explore question-based selling techniques that focus on what’s important to the prospect and how your business might be able to help them.

3. Stay in touch after the initial contact. You must have a strategy for staying in touch after the initial contact. Most customers won’t buy based on an initial conversation. You need to stay top-of-mind with them until they’re ready to move to the next step.

Don’t kid yourself that people will call when they’re ready. Out of sight means out of mind. You and your business are strangers to most of your prospects. They won’t remember a thing about you a week from now.

We’re not talking about calls that ask, “Are you ready to buy yet?” Instead, create communication tools that respect your time and budget while demonstrating the value of your club to potential members. With luck, your communications will be so catchy (and useful) that they’ll even spark positive word-of-mouth discussion.

Use tools like e-mail newsletters to remind prospects about the wonderful experiences your members and clients have. Offer short, free teleconference classes on topics they care about, such as holiday eating tips. Invite them to a fashion show of the latest workout apparel at your facility. How about a monthly e-mail with a fun outdoor game they can do with their kids? Or tips for improving their bowling scores?

4. Actively pursue publicity opportunities. Highly visible businesses are generally more credible in the eyes of potential customers and networking/referral sources.

Publicity tactics like public speaking are efficient because they accomplish two goals. First, they expose potential customers to your business. Second, they keep you top-of-mind with prospects who aren’t yet ready to buy.

Continue your publicity efforts from Step 1. Look for opportunities to increase the visibility of your business while attracting local media attention. Seek out joint publicity opportunities with organizations that attract people who are likely to match your ideal customer profile.

These techniques can help you stay on top of the follow-up process. In Part 4, you’ll learn how to find the best fit between your services and your prospects’ needs so that you can close the sale.