I’ve been blogging about moving potential students through the sales funnel and (quite often) a part of that process is following up. There’s nuance to each follow up situation, but these are some of the questions I get asked about most frequently and some general guidelines on how I approach follow up communication.
Should I follow up?
How often should I follow up?
In a professional setting, I usually wait two days to follow up, but since the teacher-parent relationship isn’t strictly business-to-business, I relax it a just a bit. I think three business days is a reasonable follow up time.
There are times when I’d deviate from this guideline, though. If I’m holding a time slot for a student, I would probably only keep it for 24-48 hours and follow up a few hours before the deadline arrives.
On the other hand, if I know a prospective parent is traveling, I would wait until they were back in town and had a couple of days to catch up on email before I reached out.
What should I say in a follow up message?
I wrote an entire post on how to use strategic language to keep moving the conversation with prospective students forward, so I won’t go deeply into that here, but those principles can guide all your follow up communication.
I really don’t want to be chasing prospective students for weeks, so I try to create urgency and set expectations for a swift enrollment timeline through all communication. I want to give them a reason to make a decision sooner rather than later.
How should I make contact?
Email, phone calls, and texts all have different strengths for communication. Each has its place, and this is how I think about what channel to use:
For the first follow up, I usually communicate through the same channel we’ve been using up until that point. If we’ve been communicating by email, I follow up by email.
For the second follow up, I might try to change it up by making a phone call. I don’t expect the call to be answered, but I leave a voicemail. I like this method of follow up because it let’s me say “Hey! I still haven’t heard from you!” but the tone of my voice can diffuse any pressure that might have been felt if I had tried to say the same thing in an email.
For a third follow up (or to accompany a voicemail), I might leave a text message. Again, keeping a friendly tone and probably using an emoji so I don’t come across as pushy. I get that emojis aren’t everyone’s style, but they work for me. 😀
Text messages are also a great channel for urgent and final follow up messages when a time slot hold is expiring, for example.
How many times should I follow up?
You’ll have to feel out the situation here, but I don’t think three or four follow up attempts are unreasonable, especially if you’re reaching out through a variety of channels.
How do I not sound annoying?
If we keep the communication student-focused, I actually think these follow up opportunities are a great way to demonstrate that we’ve been paying attention and listening to the student/family’s concerns throughout the process.
If I’ve been trying to get a student to schedule their sample lesson, I might send them a text saying: “Hey! You mentioned that Tues would be a good day for a sample lesson and I just had a spot open up tomorrow at 3pm. Would you like me to reserve it for you?”
Or “I know you’ve been traveling and piano lessons are probably the last thing on your mind right now, but you sounded excited to get started and I didn’t want you to miss the fall enrollment window! When’s a good day to get on the phone and compare schedules?”
What do I do with the people I never get a response from?
If we got any feedback from the prospect before they ghosted (e.g. they expressed our rates were high or our studio was far away), I’d take note of their comments and just let them go.
Sometimes we don’t even get that far into the conversation, though.
It’s not uncommon for a prospective student to send an inquiry email asking about pricing and availability and then never respond to our reply. In this case, I’d go through a series of email/phone/text follow up attempts (to make sure they received my response) and then move them to a list of people to follow up with in the next enrollment season.
I’ve gotten enthusiastic inquiries in the summer months and then once school hits the family gets overwhelmed and just can’t think about piano lessons. By the time January rolls around, though, it might be a different story.
Early January, April/May, and August/September are good times to touch base with these prospects.
There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution for follow up, but if we’re being somewhat intentional we can get a sense of what moves prospective students to action and what turns them off.