FOLLOW-UP IS SIMPLE — SO WHY ISN'T IT EASY?
C.J. Hayden, MCC
Doing a good job at follow-up is a
piece of cake. You just capture every lead or potential referral partner you run across, then
place a call or send them something, or both. If you don't make a sale right away, you calendar
them for the next follow-up and do the same thing again. Pretty straightforward, isn't it? So why
is follow-up such a problem? Here are the four most common reasons:
With an activity that you must initiate, it's easy to let other tasks come first: responding to
incoming calls and mail, getting the invoices out, going to networking events, and oh yes, doing
the client work you get paid for. If you don't set aside reserved time for follow-up, it will
Business cards and scraps of paper lying on your desk do not constitute a contact management
system. Without accurate records of who you have contacted, when, and what your last conversation
was about, effective follow-up is impossible.
3. Resistance. Do
you find yourself saying, "Why do I have to do this? I'm good at what I do. Why aren't the
prospects calling me?" You are sabotaging yourself with this line of thinking. Business owners
much more established than you are do follow-up every day. It's one of the ways they got
established. Regular follow-up does not make people think you don't have enough business; it
makes them see you as a professional.
4. Fear. "If I
follow up that lead, I might be rejected," reasons the voice in your head. "So I'll avoid the
pain by not making the call in the first place." Or conversely, you may be thinking, "If I place
the call, I might get the business, and then I'll have to do the work, and people will have all
these expectations of me." The reality is that if you don't place the calls, you're
going to fail even more dramatically than in these two imaginary scenarios.
The thought of making follow-up
calls may be even more paralyzing than cold calling. After all, this is someone you already
believe needs your services. Maybe you've already talked or sent your literature. You've
invested something or made a personal connection, so now if you hear no, the rejection really
What you have to remember is that
rejection is not about you. This is a business transaction. Your prospect is deciding whether to
spend his or her own or the company's money. The number of factors that go into a decision like
this are innumerable. Here are some actual reasons people with a strong need for the service
being offered have refused to buy or bought from a competitor:
- Decided to take a Hawaiian
- Competing bid was from
- Getting divorced
- Company going
- Didn't want to take money
out of a mutual fund to pay for it
- Boss doesn't want
headquarters to know there's a problem
- Liked the competitor's logo
- Project was tabled until
When a prospect tells you a
competitor was chosen because he or she "has more experience," the message is that the company
hires only people with strong experience in its own industry. This is not about you. If you are
told the competition "came well recommended," the prospect is choosing to do business with the
friend of a colleague. It's not about you. When you hear that the other guy's bid was lower, it
means the buyer values price over quality. Also, not about you.
The real trick to vanquishing fear
of follow-up is to have so many prospects in the pipeline that any one "no" becomes much less
© 2009, C.J. Hayden
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