How And When To Follow Up With Your Voice
Over Leads And Clients - For Jobs And Money
May 23, 2017
By Michael Langsner
Reaching out to new prospects as part of your marketing efforts as a voice over talent - whether through auditions, emails, phone calls, or some other method - is a crucial part of growing your client base.
But following up with these leads and clients is almost as crucial as making that initial contact, and its importance is often overlooked.
Let's look at different situations where follow-ups are warranted, as well as how and when to do so. I'll also share some great tools to help you keep on top of your follow-ups, and a free resource package (which you can download at a link below) which includes a Follow Up Reference Guide for various situations where you may need to follow up with clients and leads.
WHY REPEAT THE CONTACT?
Why is a follow-up so important, and why should you be doing it?
Many of the leads and clients you deal with day-to-day in your VO business are very busy people. They are typically Creative Directors, Producers, Casting Directors, or in other high ranking creative positions at agencies or production companies.
This means that their communications with you are just one of many things on their plates at a given moment. While they generally won't do so purposefully or with bad intent, they will forget about you as other issues take their attention.
Maintaining and nurturing your contact with these people through follow-ups will help keep you front of mind. For instance, you'd follow up to:
TYPES OF FOLLOW-UPS
Below are five situations you will likely encounter in your career as a voice over talent, and how following up factors into each one.
1. Cattle Call Auditions
These are auditions you submit from places like online casting (P2P) sites and other large-scale casting services.
Should you follow up? No.
Simply put, cattle call auditions don't require follow-ups. There are far too many of them and far too many talent submitting for each one. Following up with a client holding a cattle call audition likely won't do anything to increase your chances at landing the job, and at worst can make you come off as annoying or unprofessional.
Set it and forget it - meaning, get your auditions in and then move on.
2. Specifically Requested Auditions
These are situations where a client has reached out to you directly to request an audition. This can be either through a private job posting on a P2P site, or through direct contact.
Should you follow up? Yes.
In these situations, the client has expressed an interest in you over countless other talent by inviting you to audition for them directly. It is warranted to follow up with them if they either don't respond after you send your audition, or if they thank you for the audition and you don't hear anything for a while.
If the client does not respond after you've sent your audition, wait one to three days to email a quick follow-up to make sure they got the files, and to see if they need anything else.
If the client thanked you after sending the audition, but has not sent an additional response, you can follow up in one to three weeks later to check if there has been any feedback from the end client, and if they have any questions for you.
Cap your follow-ups at one to two rounds in these situations, meaning that after you follow up once or twice, leave it at that.
3. Discussed Services/Specific Projects
These are situations where you and a potential client have discussed your services, rates, etc., or a specific project they were thinking of hiring you for - but then the communication ended without a firm conclusion.
Should you follow up? Yes.
By responding to you with questions about your services or even mentioning a project they are considering you for, the client has expressed interest in you. So if there is no conclusive end to your communications, a follow-up is warranted.
If you've had some back-and-forth with a lead/client and then the conversation dropped off, wait roughly three days to a week to reach out again and try to reignite the conversation - or see if they have any other questions/comments.
4. Sent Files, No Response
In this situation, you have been hired for a job, had some sort of discussion/communication with the client, recorded and sent the VO, and then have received no response.
Should you follow up? Of course!
If you have sent files to a client but have not received any confirmation of receipt or feedback, you need to follow up and get an indication of where they are at, and the project status.
If you sent files and have heard nothing since, then one to two days is fine to just shoot off a friendly "check-in" email to make sure they received the files and ask if they need anything else.
If they had thanked you or confirmed they received the files, then give them a bit more time to work. If you haven't heard anything in one to two weeks, check in by email to ask the status of the project, and see if there is any feedback on the files you sent.
5. Sent Invoice, Have Not Been Paid
This is the most sticky situation you'll probably find yourself in pertaining to follow-ups, but also the one where following up is the most important.
If you have completed a project, the client liked the files you sent, and you invoiced them but have not received payment ...
Should you follow up? Duh!
If there was an earlier discussion regarding the client's payment terms, wait at least until that period has expired. For instance, many clients pay "net 30" - meaning they release the payment 30 days after the invoice has been processed.
So in this case, don't start the 30-day follow-up countdown from the date you sent the invoice. Rather, add another 7-14 days to account for processing, as well as mailing of the check (if this is the payment method).
If that period goes by and still no payment - email them that you still haven't received the payment and ask for an ETA on when you will receive it.
If there was no discussion as to the client's payment terms, my general rule of thumb is to give them a month before I check in.
However, this can vary a bit from client to client. If I've done past work with them and have an idea of how quickly they usually pay, I will use that as my guideline for when to follow up. If it's a first-time client, I'll go by my one month standard.
A simple, friendly email inquiry about when you can expect to be paid is all you need to do.
CALL FOR THE $$
If you don't get a response to that follow up, then do so again about five to seven days later.
And after waiting one month (or the period of their payment terms) and following up twice via email, all with no response and no payment, then it is time to move on to phone calls.
Give them three to five days after the second email, and if no response, give them a call. This is a more direct and personal method of communication and will bring more urgency to the situation. If they still don't respond, leave a voicemail, and try back a day or so later if they don't return your call.
They will generally pay after you begin calling - that's been my experience.
Most do not have bad intentions or are purposefully negligent. They just get busy and forgetful, so you just need to give them that extra shove (or two or three extra shoves).
TIPS FOR YOUR FOLLOW-UPS
Here are some additional tips to keep in mind when following up with clients and leads.
1. Always be Professional and Friendly
Keep your communications pleasant, polite and professional.
It may be tempting to get angry and express your frustration after you've followed up several times with no response, especially in situations where they owe you money. But that will do more harm than good.
I'm not saying you shouldn't press the issue once their unresponsiveness goes on for an extended period of time, but always be professional and friendly when doing so. You can let the expletives and shouting come out when you're alone. But when you're on the phone or typing yet another email, keep it friendly. You'll be more likely to get the result you're after.
2. Escalate Communication Methods if Unresponsiveness Persists
In situations where you are owed a response, such as when you are engaged in their project or when they owe you money, you should escalate from email to phone calls or other communication methods when their lack of responsiveness persists.
If you just send email after email with no response, that trend may continue for some time. It's possible your emails are going to spam or are getting buried in a cluttered inbox.
Move on to phone calls to increase the urgency, and consider contacting them through private messages on social media like LinkedIn or Facebook, as well, if you can't get a hold of them through email.
3. Use Tools to Schedule Your Follow-Ups
As your business grows, you will likely have more and more contacts to stay in touch and follow up with. This can get overwhelming and even impossible to manage all from memory.
Utilize tools and apps to help keep you on top of things.
Here are two online suggestions for doing this:
Google Calendar (or any calendar app)
After you fire off an email, send over some files, or send an invoice, go to your Google Calendar to schedule an event along the lines of "Follow up with Client ABC if no response, if payment not received, etc..."
Place this in your calendar at the appropriate amount of time out in the future. In the event description, write a reminder along the lines of "I sent ABC the invoice for the "Project Name" Project 40 days ago, if I haven't been paid, follow up."
This is another cool service you can check out if you're a Gmail user. It's a free extension that allows you to have emails "boomerang" back into your inbox if you don't receive a response, as well as draft up emails and schedule them to be sent at a later time.
It's very handy for keeping on top of follow-ups.
YOUR BUSINESS STRATEGY
To sum up, include follow-ups as a part of your business communications strategy.
Toe the line between being too pushy and following up very soon, and being too lenient and following up very late.
Always keep your follow-ups friendly and professional, escalate communication methods if necessary, and consider using some apps and services to help you keep on top of things.
Finally, click here to download a free resource package, which includes a handy Follow Up Reference Guide. (Scroll to the end of the blog at this link, and click the FREE RESOURCE PACKAGE button.)
And remember: Learning and absorbing this advice is great - but it does absolutely nothing for you if you don't take action!
Michael Langsner is a NYC-based professional voice over talent who voices TV, radio, and Internet spots, e-Learning tutorials, phone systems, consumer products, promos, trailers, and more for a variety of clients including Google, Amazon, Dell, Coca-Cola, VH1, and many, many others. He also regularly writes blog posts featuring helpful tips and strategies for VO talent of all experience levels, dealing with performance, audio recording and engineering, and marketing/business activities. Michael also founded MBL Music and Voice - an audio post-production company - where he and his team provide original music, sound design, VO casting, and mixing services - where they have recently completed projects for Verizon, The NFL, The NBA Player's Association, CA Software, and Kodak.
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