Follow ups: Why, When, and How

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 it's importance is often overlooked.

In this post, we'll 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 in the free resource package for this post which you can download below, I've included a handy "Follow Up Reference Guide" for various situations where you may need to follow up with clients and leads. Keep it on hand for scheduling your follow ups going forward!

Why

stairs-man-person-walking.jpg

Before we dive into the details of following up as it pertains to Voice Talent, lets start with why following up is so important, and why you need to 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.

Whether it's to stay on their radar when they've expressed interest in working with you, make sure they received information they requested that you have sent with no reply, or remind them about overdue invoices or files that have been sent for their projects - follow ups are essential in driving not only your client relationships, but also your entire business forward.

Now let's move on to some specific situations VO Talent will encounter, and what types of follow ups they warrant, if any at all

When & How

Below are 5 situations you will likely encounter at some point in your career as a voice-over talent, and how following up factors into each one.

Cattle Call Auditions:

voice over P2P audition

These are auditions you submit from places like 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. When it comes to cattle call auditions, set it and forget it, meaning get your auditions in and then move on.

 

Specifically Requested Auditions:

private audition VO

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 the countless other talent out there 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.

When and How?

If the client does not respond at all after sending your audition, you can wait 1-3 days to send a quick follow up and make sure they got the files and see if they needed anything else.

If they thanked you after sending the audition, you can follow up 1-2 weeks later if there is no response, to check if there has been any feedback from the end client and if they have any questions for you. 

I would say to cap your follow ups at 1-2 rounds in these situations, meaning that after you follow up once or twice, leave it at that.

 

Discussed Services/Specific Projects:

VO discussion

These are situations where you and a potential client had communication and discussed either your services, rates, etc... or even a specific project they were thinking of hiring you for, but then the conversation died out 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 and if there is no conclusive end to your communications, a follow up is warranted.

When and How?

If you've had some back and forth with a lead/client and then the conversation dropped off, you can wait roughly 3 days to a week to reach out again and try to reignite the conversation or see if they had any other questions/comments.

 

Sent Files, No Response

email response vo talent

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.

When and How?

If you sent files and heard nothing since, then 1-2 days is fine to just shoot off a friendly "check-in" message to make sure they received the files and see if they needed anything else.

If they thanked you or confirmed they received the files in some way after you sent them, then you can give them a bit more time to work on their end. If you haven't heard anything in 1-2 weeks, you can check in and see what the status of the project is and if there is any feedback on the files you sent.

 

Sent Invoice, Have Not Been Paid

Voice Over Payment Job

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, you invoiced them, but have not received payment, you need to follow up.

Should you Follow Up?

duh...

When and How?

If there has been some sort of discussion regarding the clients payment terms then you should wait until at least 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 if this is the 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 on their end, as well as mailing of the check (if this is the payment method). If that period goes by and still no payment - check in to inform 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 clients payment terms, my general rule of thumb is to give them a month before I check in. However this can vary a bit 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 1 month standard.

A simple friendly check in and inquiry about when you can expect to be paid is all you need to do.

If you don't get a response to this follow up, then do so again about 5-7 days later. If after waiting 1 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 3-5 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 give a little more urgency to the situation on their end. If they don't respond, leave a voicemail, and try back a day or so later if they don't return your call.

Dealing with non-paying clients beyond this point is probably a  topic best suited for another post, but if you've reached this point with a client, they will generally pay after you move on to calling them from emailing them - that's been my experience. Again, most do not have bad intentions or are purposefully negligent, they just get busy and forgetful and you need to give them that extra shove (or 2 or 3 extra shoves)

Additional Tips on the "How"

In addition to the specific details on how long to wait and what to say mentioned above, here are some other tips to keep in mind when following up with clients and leads.

Always be Professional and Friendly

Keep your communications pleasant, polite, and professional. I know it may be tempting to get angry and express your frustration to a client or lead after you follow up several times with no response, especially in situations where they owe you money - but this 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 your alone, but when you're on the phone with them or typing up yet another email follow up - keep it friendly, you'll be more likely to get the result you're after.

Escalate Communication Methods if Unresponsiveness Persists

In situations where you are owed a response from someone, such as when you are engaged in a project with them 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 social media like LinkedIn or Facebook as well if you can't get a hold of them through email.

Utilize Tools to Schedule your Follow Ups

As your business grows, you will likely have more and more contacts you need to stay in touch with 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 some suggestions.

Google Calendar (or any calendar app):

After you fire off an email, send over some files, or send an invoice, you can go over to your calendar and schedule an event along the lines of "Follow up with Client ABC if no response, if payment not received, etc..." You can place this in your calendar the appropriate amount of time out in the future, and in the event description you can write yourself 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"

Boomerang:

Another cool service you can check out if you're a Gmail user is Boomerang. 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. Very handy for keeping on top of follow ups.

 

In Conclusion...

To sum up, make sure you are including 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 used if need be, and consider using some apps and services to help you keep on top of things.

Action Steps

Reading, learning, and absorbing content is great - but it does absolutely nothing if you don't take action. With that in mind, here are some action steps you can take based on the info in this post.

Reading, learning, and absorbing content is great - but it does absolutely nothing if you don't take action. With that in mind, here are some action steps you can take based on the info in this post.

Schedule Follow ups for any open communications or projects you currently have on your plate, based on the time frames and methods discussed in this post and the reference guide which you can download below.

 

What sort of success have you had with follow ups in your own business, and how long do you typically wait to do so? Let me know in the comments below!

Resource Package

VO training resources

Click the button below to download the free resource package for this post, it includes a PDF version of the post for offline reading and saving, as well as a handy "Follow Up Reference Guide" you can refer to for how and when to follow up in different situations and what to say.