In the more than two decades I’ve been a business owner, built sales teams and worked as a business coach, I’ve been surprised – over and over again – at how most business people seem to miss the ball on follow up.
I grew up in a business family – we owned a high end men’s clothing store for three generations. Almost every night, our dinner conversations revolved around business and customers.
My parents would recount the day and without realizing it, I was getting a thorough business education. The education continued on my Saturdays at the store – behind the counter as package wrapper, at my father’s heels while he created all the marketing and advertising on the big drafting table in their crowded office and on the various errands that my father sent me on.
The errands terrified me. They were usually along the lines of: go down to 24th street, tell them you’re my daughter and you’re here to pick up ______________. It took courage and confidence – what I didn’t have I built on the walk to 24th Street. Do it often enough and it becomes routine.
Have you heard the expression ‘the fortune is in the follow up’? It’s so true. Consider that on average someone has to be exposed to a marketing message 7-9 times before they take action.
Follow up is very similar. You have people in various stages of decision-making. Following up with them is just good business.
You don’t follow up to push them, or to further your agenda. You follow up as a courtesy to see if your prospect needs what you offer – yet. If they’re a fit for your business, ideally they do need what you offer. They just may not be ready right now. Why?
They might have someone already providing the service you offer. They might not have the budget. They might not be ready because there are other priorities in their queue.
However, IF they use your service, it’s possible – even likely – that one day, they’ll need someone new to perform that service. Things change. All the time. If, when they need the service you offer, you have top-of-mind consciousness, they’re likely to choose you.
Especially if you’ve been consistent, courteous, maybe even provided them value as you’ve communicated over time. It’s about building relationships – without a pushy agenda.
I’ve coached so many people who’ve told me they felt pushy when they followed up, so instead, they were sloppy and didn’t do it at all – not a good formula for winning business.
Good follow up is businesslike and rarely annoying if done professionally. And, perhaps more to the point, NOT following up makes a bad impression.
I recently had someone reach out to me about web design – which I was thinking about in that moment. It was a ‘cold email’ and I responded immediately saying I was interested and would like to talk – I never heard from the guy again.
Last month, I got a detailed email from a reputable company that publishes a well-regarded industry magazine. They had an interesting offer to advertise and get a write up in the magazine.
I responded immediately and told him I’d like to buy. He wrote back and said “great”. Didn’t aim to make an appointment or close the deal. I had to write back and say, “contact me Monday.” He responded to say “sounds great.” That’s the last I heard of him!
It blows me away. Around here, when a client calls, I respond as soon as I possibly can. I’ll change plans to respond if I have to. Everything else gets put aside. When I’m working on a project for a client, they’ve got the ‘bat phone’ – direct access. Why should a valued client wait around wondering if they’ll hear from me?
They shouldn’t! I realize I’ve got my rant on, but really – spend less time attending social media webinars and more time nurturing your clients and your business will be much better off. There. Done ranting – thanks for your indulgence. Who can you help today?