Overcoming the Tragedy of Small Business: Getting Back to Basics

The Importance of the Sales Follow-Up

As a small business owner, it can sometimes feel like you’re on the journey of never-ending challenges. There’s no time to focus on your business because you do everything from cleaning bathrooms to product distribution. You get overwhelmed with technology and all the things that are supposedly here to grow your business. Not to mention the stress you feel from outside factors like political unrest, and family conflict because you’re late to yet another soccer game.

The tragedy of small business isn’t that too many fail or struggle. The tragedy is that they fail because they neglect to do something that’s simple. They’re dropping the ball and forgetting to follow up with their leads because they’re distracted. Distractions consume entrepreneurs and they can’t be successful with both a business and a life. Fortunately, there is a simple way to overcome that – and it’s all about getting back to the basics.

Why Entrepreneurs Don’t Follow Up

Can you identify the state of distraction that you live in as an entrepreneur? If you’re like most small businesses, you’re so distracted that it makes it difficult to close sales. You can’t see the goal, you lose focus on your customers, and forget the purpose of your business.

Distractions are easy. Saying yes to any opportunity because you need to make payroll always seems like a win. Unfortunately, what happens is the project occupies time and space in your mind, leaving little left to focus on your business or your family. This cycle continues to repeat itself until you end up with a business that’s so disjointed neither you nor your customers know what you’re about.

Cutting through the distraction will help you find what works in your business and what matters in your life. The good news is that the basics haven’t changed.

The Basics Always Work

Intentional focus causes distractions to fade into the background. The job of focus is to help you get clear on what’s needed to move forward. It helps prevent you from going in many directions and allowing the chaos that’s everywhere to hinder your progress.

To begin, start by getting your business organized and centralized. Fewer systems are better, but one system would be ideal. Then, start to automate tasks that are repetitive or often forgotten, like sales follow-up.

The Importance of the Sales Follow-Up

Follow-up is what separates successful businesses from those who fail. Research shows that 80 percent of sales close between the fifth and twelfth contact. Unfortunately, 44 percent of businesses give up after one follow-up attempt. If you don’t follow up with your customers beyond the first few emails, you’re missing the bulk of your sales.

The timing of a sales follow-up is also important because people buy when they’re ready, not when you are. In fact, you are nine times more likely to convert a lead if you follow up within the first five minutes. But, you must have something valuable to share.

How the Best Entrepreneurs Follow-Up

People buy from those they know, like and trust, so the information you deliver must be valuable enough to engage with. There aren’t any magic formulas when it comes to leading with value. However, the most successful businesses have these three follow-up email campaigns:

  • Lead Generation: A lead generation campaign includes valuable information you offer to someone who’s interested in what you have to sell. It includes a lead magnet, that could be a report, tip sheet, e-book, or video, along with a series of follow-up emails.
  • Welcome: A welcome campaign ensures that you’re ushering your customers in with a great experience. It could include orientation information, log-in credentials, or bonuses they didn’t anticipate.
  • Long-term Nurture: The long-term nurture campaign is regular communication with your customers and prospects. Sometimes this includes news, updates, events, or specials. Contact should be made at least monthly.

Don’t Be Forgotten

A few years ago I tried to remodel my backyard. I needed a landscaper and play equipment to the tune of thousands of dollars. I met with a few contractors and then I got busy. The project didn’t get done because the contractors didn’t follow up with me. They dropped the ball.

The only reason why we ended up with a swing set is that my kids are really good at follow-up. But, the landscape quotes are nowhere to be found. If one of the landscapers would’ve followed up, my backyard would look a whole lot different today.

Having a business is tough. You’re living in a state of distraction, which makes it challenging to achieve your goals. Eliminating distractions and getting back to basics is the key to ensuring that you don’t succumb to the tragedy of small business.

Signing Paper Photo via Shutterstock


Clate Mask Clate Mask is Co-Founder and CEO of Infusionsoft, a fast-growth software company that helps small businesses convert more leads, save time and manage more with less with its web-based software. He also is co-author of the New York Times best-seller Conquer the Chaos: How to Grow a Successful Small Business Without Going Crazy.

3 Reactions
  1. The basics of relationships always work. It is not just about the money but the relationship that you create with the prospect.

  2. Great article, Clate! You are absolutely on point with the secret sauce of relationship building: follow up. It’s easy to slip into the trap of thinking the right digital marketing and social media will instantly drive business, but the fact is, those things take time to build momentum. In the mean time, building relationships are as effective, if not more, than they have ever been. Additionally, learning to follow up and relationship build is critical once the marketing leads start pouring in.

  3. The key to success in any small business is to stay focused, organized and have all your priorities worked out smoothly: the rest follows suit.