In small business, the fortune is truly in the followup. Mary-Jane Mehlenbacher, founder of FIITFU and a new Suite Partner, shares her tips on why followup is such an important part of a consultant’s business strategy and how having a CRM tool can help.
FIITFU an essential CRM (Customer Relationship Management) tool that streamlines your follow-up efforts with an easy-to-use, intuitive interface that anyone can learn in no time. Benefits include: a daily focus feature that gives you a list of clients to focus on each day; a mobile app for follow-up on the go; automation of your entire follow-up sequence; and features that allow you to track and schedule all your communication needs. Grab your 30-day free trial and see if this tool helps your follow-up and customer service!
Brenda: Alright everybody welcome! I am Brenda Ster. Welcome to another episode of Direct Sales Social Marketing with Sassy Suite. I am joined as always by the delightful and lovely Wendy Lawson.
Windy: Hey hey, everybody!
Brenda: You guys! Today, we have a very special guest, and we’re making a big giant announcement. Insert dramatic pause. I know. Mary-Jane Mehlenbacher is the founder of Fiitfu.com. I bet you’re wondering what Fiitfu is? We’ll get there in just one second, stick with me. So Fiitfu is a brand new Sassy Suite partner. And Mary-Jane knows that the fortune… is in the… follow-up. The fortune is in the follow-up. So, Mary-Jane, welcome!
Mary-Jane: Thank you so much, Brenda. It’s so great to be here with you and Windy today. I’m very excited to be partnering with this incredible group of people that are in direct sales. Probably lots of women out there that are family members or mothers and wanna build their businesses and I’m really happy that I’m able to introduce this great tool to your entire group.
Windy: We’re so glad you’re here. Now, Mary-Jane, I’ve been using Fiitfu for a while, but I didn’t realize you’ve been around for almost eight years now. How did Fiitfu come to be? When did it start? Tell us that story.
Mary-Jane: Yes, well, it’s a good story. And I think a lot of you, my story might resonate with a few people that are on the call. Because I was in the corporate world, I was working in sales and marketing and management with a large advertising firm, and so with that firm, we had a customer relationship management program that would ensure that we never let anybody fall to the cracks. Because if we did, we would actually pay for their advertising — it would come out of our commissions. So we had to make sure that we always followed up with people. Anyway, because I was part of the corporate world, what inevitably happens? Well, it happened to me anyways. As part of the management team, I was part of having to let go more than 500 people from our organization when they were doing some to downsizing. So it was a really, very difficult time in my life. I was pregnant at the time, I was a manager of an amazing group of people, and I had to let some of them go, So it’s super stressful. And it was actually so stressful that my daughter, I went into labor five weeks early and had my daughter. She’s completely fine, she was fine. We went, left the hospital the next day, so that was cool. But while I was on [maternity] leave, I was then let go from the same company. So I was part of hacking everybody and then I got hacked.
Brenda: Oh my gosh.
Mary-Jane: So what ended up happening — I know, it’s a sad story. And you know what, it’s reality for some people that, you know, they have to go through something like this to take them to the next step in their life. And so what happened with me, I was actually introduced to a direct sales company. And that was in 2005, I was introduced to a direct sales company. And I built this company, built my team, and all along for five years, I was like… There has to be a tool out here that will help people track their customers, allow them to, you know, when to follow up with them, what products have they ordered, what samples have I given to them? And there wasn’t. So in 2010, we started building Fiitfu. And in 2011, we launched it, and that was in August, of 2011. So, yes, Windy, you’re right…it’s coming up on eight years that we’ve been in business helping people that are in direct sales, and have their own small businesses become more effective and efficient in their follow-up. And I’m just so, so proud of the system. We’ve grown so much over the eight years from what it used to be to what it is now. It’s just, you know, it’s a huge jump. But we’ve got clients with us, still, that started with us eight years ago. And so I’m really, really proud of that. And I’m really excited to be sharing it with everybody here.
Brenda: I didn’t realize our stories were so similar. I have a corporate background as well. And I’m sure Windy was looking going, ‘Brenda, that’s your story.”
Windy: I know! I was thinking the same thing. I was like “Oh, this sounds very familiar to me.”
Brenda: Right! I had a very similar story. I, essentially, was corporate…. Severed people constantly based on budget cuts and things like that. And then, eventually, made a recommendation that they let me go because I was middle management overhead. So I wasn’t cut, I recommended that I was cut. And then that was the spring board into my direct sales career, which launched the Suite, which sort of changed the course of my entire life. So…
Mary-Jane: And that’s why we say everything happens for a reason, right?
Brenda: Right! One decision can change your whole life. You’re only one decision away from a completely separate life right, right? Now, Mary-Jane, Fiitfu is basically a CRM program. And for those who don’t know, CRM is a Customer Relationship Management Program. It sounds like it’s gonna be really big and scary and complicated, and only for super big companies. Can you explain what CRM is and why it’s so vital for a small business person?
Mary-Jane: Absolutely. So, if you think of a customer relationship management program, like you said, it is exactly like that, it’s just managing your relationships within in a — it’s a tool. And yes, there are a lot of tools out there that are big, they’re quite large, they’re made for large organizations. But Fiitfu is designed for people in direct sales. It’s meant to be used by the individual person so that when you meet somebody, you can add their, you know, if you gave them a sample, you can track your samples. If you met somebody, if you had a meeting, or if you had a party or whatever it is…it’s designed specifically for you. So that those Excel spreadsheets that you have everywhere, and I know everybody has them — I had three like binders full of client information — all it is is just a tool that allows you to take that paperwork that you have and put it in an area that is easily accessible to you. So, a CRM, sure, all it is, it’s like an app, well, we have an app, it’s not actually an app. But it’s like an application that you can utilize on a day-to-day basis that is quite easy to use. You know, there is a fellow, his name is a Harvey McCay, and he writes a lot of books on selling. And, you know we always say “we’re not selling, we’re sharing,” which is true, but you still have to learn how to share properly. So he always talked about the ABCs of selling. And the ABCs are having your antenna up all the time, tracking your client’s birthdays, because that’s a great natural reason for connecting with people, and C is a CRM. No matter what you’re selling, you need a tool that will allow you to keep track of your client’s information so that you have accessibility to the information that keeps you connected with your customers.
Brenda: Yep, I totally agree.
Windy: It sounds so, I mean it really does, it sounds so complicated but it’s really not. It’s, it’s relationships and in direct sales, we’re in the business of relationships, right? So…
Mary-Jane: That’s exactly what it is. Yeah.
Windy: You know, and, follow up is important, truly, for anyone who’s in sales needs to be following up with their past customers and their leads, but I think it’s really amplified in our industry for direct sellers for solopreneurs and yet so many people are reluctant to follow up. Why do you think that is?
Mary-Jane: Well, I’ll tell you, we do webinars every week, and every week we ask our customers when they sign up for the webinar, you know, why don’t you follow up. And so consistently, we hear over and over again. “I don’t have time” or “I’m afraid of rejection,” or “I don’t want to bother people,” “I don’t wanna be a nuisance,” “I need a system that allows me to do this.” So all of the different excuses that people use. But I’ll tell you, Windy, what the number one reason why people don’t follow up is because they don’t know what to say. How easy is it to follow it with somebody when you know it’s their birthday, or when you know that their products have just run out, or if you know what they purchased in the past and your company has a sale? That’s really easy to follow up with somebody. But if you don’t know what to say because you haven’t been keeping good notes on your customers — that’s the real reason why people are not following up. It’s because they don’t have their records. They feel kind of silly because they don’t remember how they met them, or what they bought, or how many children they have, or if they lost their job or all those different things that you should have access to immediately so that you have those natural reasons to follow up with customers. So that is why people don’t follow up is because they do not remember, and they do not know what to say. So that is key, key, key, and I think people have to really remember that.
Brenda: So let’s talk a little bit about the Fiitfu program. Tell us a little bit about, or maybe this is for Windy because I know you were an active user. Tell us a little bit about how the program can help the direct seller with their follow-up or follow-up processes.
Mary-Jane: Yes, for sure. And, Windy, I’d love to hear some of your feedback too, when we go through this. But I want you to think about if you’ve ever run or ran into somebody and kind of gone, “Oh my gosh, I totally forgot to follow up with that person that I gave a sample to, or I totally forgot to follow up with that person when I told them I would after being at an event, or I met them at a vendor event, even, and I said ‘Oh I’ll follow up with you and send you some samples’ and you don’t do it. So what Fiitfu will do is it will make sure that you never let anybody fall through the cracks. And we have a lot of different ways in which we do that. But the things, the key things, that our clients are loving is that number one, when you add somebody into your Fiitfu account, we’re gonna have some automated follow-ups populate your Fiitfu accounts, you can have them or not. But if for whatever reason, you do not follow up with somebody in six months Fiitfu will give you a list of everybody you haven’t followed up within six months. So, this is just an example of some of the things that will do within Fiitfu. The other thing is, anything that you do on your Fiitfu account, whether you record a meeting or you give a sample or are you host an event or you place an order, it will automatically create follow-ups for you based on the direct sales industry — based on the training that we’ve had in the past that are ways in which you can follow up with your customers, natural ways in which you can follow up with your customers. And I think one of my big key things is giving you these natural ways to follow up with customers because when they’re natural, they’re easy. And I think it’s important to remember that a sales call, isn’t… sorry, a follow-up isn’t always a sales call. Meaning you don’t always have to call your customers to ask them for something. And Fiitfu will keep you connected through our birthday reports, through annual reminders, through, you know, the follow-ups that we create. So it really does kick up your game, for sure, on how you can stay connected with your customers. I have one story that I want to tell you about one of our customers that I think is really powerful. She has been with Fiitfu for a long time, and she had to take a year off her business, which happens, you know, she had some, life got in the way. And so she took a year off, and after the year she came back to her Fiitfu account and she like… she kept it over the year, she just wasn’t using that much, and she sent an email to everybody in her database. Because she had put everybody in her Fiitfu account, and you can send emails from Fiitfu. She sent an email out to everybody, just saying “thank you for being a past client of mine. I’m sorry, I haven’t kept in contact with you over the last year. This is the reason why… I’m doing a sale. These are the products that I have. Please let me know if you would like to purchase anything and I’m back again to service you and your needs for the products.” She did $20,000 in sales from that one email.
Brenda: That’s not bad!
Mary-Jane: That’s not bad at all.
Brenda: So, I find, and this is one of the things we talk about all the time in our Suite, Socialite Suite and our Suite groups, is, as a solopreneur, as the single business owner —you are not just a salesperson, you’re the customer service manager, you’re the IT manager, you’re the operations manager, you’re the marketing manager. You wear all the different hats and the one that’s, the one that’s really critical to sustaining long-term relationships is the customer service manager. So, that thing, what you just said about… you know, it’s not always a sales contact, is so critical to remember that when you’re leading with service, “what I do to help you,” “can I make your life easier in some way” “can I save — and the one I typically use in training is, “can I save you a trip to Target, Kohl’s, or Macy’s for buying a gift for a gift giving opportunity,” “can I help you in some way,” is not pushy, it’s service oriented. And that mindset shift for a lot of people is what makes the repeatable or the repeat business easier. Because it’s not about… “Well, what can you do to help me meet my volume” or “how can you, now how can I sell you more to help me?” It’s “what can I do to help you make your life easier because my product serves you in some way?” That’s the big mindset shift.
Mary-Jane: Yeah, it sure is.
Windy: As a Fiitfu user, I’ll tell you, once I… once I really understood the strategy of follow-up — right, that it is a service call, that it is maintaining the relationship — and then had the tool with fiitfu that would allow me to completely automate my follow-ups, three follow-ups, done. I entered the order, and then my follow-ups are done. That changed everything for me. It just changed everything because then, I was staying in contact. It was automated, so it wasn’t, I wasn’t having to go in and it wasn’t taking a lot of time. It was easy to use. So, hey, thanks for that! Brenda and Mary-Jane.
Mary-Jane: Thank you for that!
Brenda: Well, it changed everything, it changed everything to the point where you’re now teaching it.
Windy: I have to say, one of the things about Fiitfu is there is nothing worse than when you log in, and it pops up and it’s like, “you have not talked to Brenda in 92 days,” you’re like, “Oh, I need to talk to Brenda…
Brenda: You need to talk to Brenda immediately she probably wants to go shopping. But that’s the, you know that is at a critical point because it’s not the customer’s job to remember you, it’s your job to remember the customer. Or the past customer, that’s literally the nature of the direct selling business, or any sales, sales-based business. It’s your job to remember them not their job to remember you. And I think that’s so critical. Follow-up is, it’s, and Mary-Jane, you’ll be thrilled to hear this, because whenever this, whenever we, whenever we hear a question about “my bookings are low,” “my volume is down,” the very first thing we tell everyone to do is go do your follow-up.
Brenda: That’s the place to go when your business is in a lull: go serve the people who have already purchased from you
Mary-Jane: Of course.
Brenda: You’ll get some, you will get some business out of it. You just will. So you have to, so whenever there’s a lull, you do your follow-up. That’s it.
Mary-Jane: And, you know, if I can add to that, too, when it comes to going to your existing customers, you have a 60 to 70 percent chance — probability — or probability of selling to an existing customer, as opposed to a five to twenty percent chance or probability of selling to a new prospect. So, you know, if you — if your group can understand that, that the probability of selling to somebody that they’ve already sold to is so much higher, then it makes that a lot easier. And I think also, Windy, one thing that you mentioned that I really wanted to point out is that consistency. You said, “it’s doing my automation for me, it’s consistent.” Fiitfu, the CRM, will allow you to figure out what your processes are, and then even share them with your team members. So it can also be used as a training tool because if you’ve got a process in place, whereas somebody buys something from you for the first time, and these are the three emails I send and these are when I send them, and then they can create the exact same thing in their Fiitfu account — it’s consistent. So they’re learning from you, your customers are feeling like they’re getting good service, and you’re giving every single customer the same service that you’re giving each other. So it’s important to have that consistency as well within your follow-up. And I think that’s something that Fiitfu really does stand out with, is that you can create those processes and procedures and put them into place, which, coming from a corporate world, Brenda, I’m sure that you love policies and procedures.
Brenda: Yes, always. Well, my title was quite literally Senior Vice President of Operations. Guess what I used to run… tools and process… Literally, that was my job. So, yeah we are probably best friends and don’t even know yet. So, let’s talk a little bit about our partnership. Let’s talk a little bit about what we are, what we’re launching, what we’re announcing. For anybody who’s listening. Sassy Suite does offer Fortune in the Follow Up process training, and we’ve got a lot of people who got a lot of success with that. But, if you’re struggling with then implementing the follow-up — you understand the process, you understand what you should be doing… but there’s time management, and there’s organization, you don’t have a system in place yet… Fiitfu is something that can help you get organized and help get that automated. And what we’re so excited to announce is both a pricing discount, a sweet, a Suite special, as well as a free trial. So, we have two different pricing discounts: we have a 10 percent discount on an annual plan and a five percent discount on a quarterly plan. And then we have a completely free trial for 30 days, so someone can try it out to see if the tool is right for their process needs. So, we’re super excited to sort of announce this and see if we can’t help some of our, some of our Suite embers really step up in this particular process area.
Windy: Yea, and really take advantage — I’m gonna tell everybody — take advantage of the free trial. You get 30 days to sort of give the platform a test ride. It’s, I think, once you get in there and start digging around with it a little bit, you’re gonna find that you can’t live without it. So you can try that for free for 30 days. Go to sassysuite.com/fiitfu. That F-I-I-T-F-U.
Brenda: F-I-I-T-F-U. Say that ten times fast.
Mary-Jane: That’s the Fortune Is In The Follow Up.
Brenda: The Fortune is in the follow-up. That’s right, so sassysuite.com/fiitfu to start your free trial. And then, of course, we can’t wait to hear everyone’s success, so come back over to the Socialite Suite and tell us all about it. Because we wanna hear — that’s one of our best things ever is when people come back and share successes when we know that these processes and trainings and coachings that are improving their business in some way. So, Mary-Jane, thank you so much for joining us today. We’re so thrilled to have you. And we absolutely love having you as a partner.
Mary-Jane: Thank you so much, Brenda and Windy for having me. It was lovely to be with you this morning. Sorry, this afternoon, so…
Brenda: I don’t know, I’m in Arizona, Windy’s in Florida. At any given time, it’s tomorrow… so whatever. It’s all good… We really don’t have a clue what time it is most days. We tend to run the company off Mountain time because that’s where I live, but really honestly, we have people who are all over the place.
Mary-Jane: That’s great. Well, again congratulates again on a fabulous group that you have, and I’m really excited to be working with all of you, so thank you very much.
Brenda: And to everybody listening, as always, thank you for tuning in to direct sales, social marking with Sassy Suite. If you are not yet in the Socialite Suite on Facebook, come on over, it’s thesocialitesuite.com. It’s our free private training group for direct sellers and solopreneurs. Did I mention it was free? I might have said that already, but I’ll say it again. It’s free.
Windy: Hey, how much does it cost?
Brenda: It’s totally free! It’s a completely spam-free, promotion-free group, which is pretty unique in the direct sales world. It’s not a spray-and-pray group. You can’t like spray your link out and pray someone clicks on it. It’s not going to like that. The Suite is home to a variety of social marketing resources. We do a weekly training every single Wednesday, and we really wanna consider the Suite an extension of people’s own team trainings, their brand trainings, we wanna be, you know, we wanna be somebody’s sort of adopted upline. And we want to bring tips and training to help people rock their business. So come on over and join us in the Suite. And we will see you next time here on the podcast. Bye, everyone.