business professionals know that follow up is important, the fact is
that very few are masterful at the art of it. Sure, they may leave
one or two voicemails for people or send a couple of e-mails, but
those attempts are only scratching the surface of what follow up is
really all about.
following up with a prospect or customer is about attending to the
details of business. It’s doing what you say you will do and
honoring your word. It is committing to what you know you can commit
to and then doing it. Following up is calling your prospect or
client not to nag them or harass them, but to remind them of the
wonderful, valuable product or service you know will enhance their
business or life.
way to look at it: Follow up is acknowledgment. Most people
want to feel acknowledged for who they are and for what they do.
Smart business people know that acknowledging people softens their
heart. Therefore, when you say you’re going to call back in one week
and you do, your client feels acknowledged. You did what you said
you would do … and that kind of integrity is rare in today’s world.
After all, if you’re not acknowledging your prospects and clients,
why should they form a relationship with you?
If you don’t follow up with people, they think you don’t care
if you get the business or not. Not only are you offending the other
person, but you’re also sabotaging your success and your company’s
So if you’re ready to take your follow up skills (and your
success) to the next level, then practice these strategies:
When following up,
don’t give an exact timeframe:
Many people fall into the trap of being too specific with
their follow-up promises. For example, they may say, “I’ll call you
back in 30 minutes.” However, they tell everyone the same timeframe
no matter what the situation or request. As a result, they rarely
honor their 30-minute promise.
Rather than give a specific time, a better approach is to say
something like, “I’ll get back to you when my project is complete in
the next day or so,” or use some other vague timeframe that is
reasonable. That way you’re not being held to a strict timeline.
Additionally, if you know you intend to get back to them in an hour,
tell them you will get back by the end of the day. Something might
come up in that hour that derails your attention and your best
If you see those minutes rolling away and are supposed to get
back to a person but know you can’t, then phone them and tell them
you are detained. You could say, “I know I was supposed to have an
answer for you by 5 p.m. today and it’s now 4:45, but it looks as
though I’m going to need more time to resolve this situation. I will
call you back with more information by tomorrow afternoon.” It’s
better to make the call than pretend it will all go away.
Acknowledging the problem lets the other person see that you can be
Be F.U.L.L. of
yourself – Follow Up Light and Lively:
When you are talking with someone or leaving a voicemail, put
a smile in your voice. If you aren’t feeling happy at that
particular time, then listen to some upbeat music, read a few funny
jokes or stories online, or pick up a humorous book. You absolutely
must be positive when doing follow up.
One thing you must never do is get on the phone when you’re
angry or depressed. No one wants to take on negative energy, and no
one will return a voicemail that has a negative tone in it. Your
voicemail or message must be light and lively. It must have happy
energy. It must be enthusiastic. And it must be awaiting the
person’s response with glee.
No one wants to speak to Mr./Ms. Grumpy. If you’ve left a few
voicemails and you still haven’t heard back from your prospect or
client, then you may have reason to be irritated; however, you must
never let the other person know that. You must leave a fourth and
fifth voicemail with as much enthusiasm and excitement as you had
when you left the first voicemail.
Realize, too, that leaving a “guilt” message will never get
the customer to call you back. Guilt messages sound like this: “Mr.
Smith, I have already left you five messages. Why are you not
returning my calls? If you do not return my call in the next 48
hours I will have no choice but to not do business with you again.
Please call me immediately. I need your answer.”
The result of this message will most likely result in you
never hearing from Mr. Smith again. You may have released your own
frustration at the cost of a very possible future sale. If you are
courteous and guilt-free on your sixth voicemail you leave all doors
open for Mr. Smith to be able to return the call to you. It is also
possible that your courtesy and enthusiasm may prompt him to not
only give you his business, but also because of your wonderful and
uplifting persistence you could get all his referral business as
well. Therefore, always stay positive and put a smile in your style.
Follow up for the
fun of it:
Follow up is not
about nagging; it is about reminding. Unfortunately, when it
comes to follow up, most people think of the telemarketers who call
during dinner, and no one wants to be like them. But that is not
following up. When done artfully and elegantly, and in the right
way, follow up is actually a masterful work of reminding.
Also realize that not every follow up has to be about “are
you ready to buy from me right now?” Sometimes you just do it
because it’s the right thing to do. As an added benefit, when you
follow up without an immediate sales goal in mind, you see how it
can be. For example, suppose your phone rang and in the caller ID
you see the name of your bank displayed. Possibly alarmed there is a
problem, you answer the phone. The person on the other end says, “Is
this Jane Doe? This is John Smith, your personal banker. I just
wanted to call and tell you to have a great day.”
Or suppose a product you bought from a salesperson has
arrived in the mail. It is now in your home and functioning
properly. Two or three days later you get a follow up call from the
salesperson asking how the product is working for you. This kind of
call will probably result in more purchases from that salesperson.
In both of these examples, the act of follow up is to check
in with someone, not to say, “Please buy from me today.” When you do
a few follow ups like these, calling to ask for the sale later is
much easier...and the prospect is much more inclined to say yes and
refer others to you.
Become a Master
When you implement
these suggestions into your follow up efforts, you see how fun and
rewarding follow up can actually be. Your prospects and customers
will appreciate your efforts to keep them informed, and your company
will be grateful for your persistence and diligence to one of the
most basic business tasks. In the end, by mastering this fine art,
you’ll close more business and enjoy greater success in all areas of
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