No matter who you are and what you do, your success relies on your ability to effectively follow up with people. Do you dread having to follow up and make up excuses to avoid doing it? It’s time to stop!
- If you are a salesperson in the midst of a deal – you have to follow up in order to close the deal.
- If you are looking for a new job you have to follow up to stay relevant and top of mind to the potential employers
- If your work requires you to collaborate with others in or outside your team – follow up is just part of the game.
Most people feel that they are nagging or annoying the other person when they are following up. I typically hear from my clients the following:
- “If they were interested they would reply to my email”
- “I don’t want to seem like I’m begging or coming from a place of weakness”
- “I am afraid to annoy them”
I am about to prove to you that following up in the right way doesn’t have to terrify you and in fact it will empower and help strengthen your relationships.
First you need to keep these 3 questions in mind. If the answer is yes to any of them then you have no excuse but to follow up.
- Is it possible they meant to reply but got busy? Or missed your email/call?
- Is it possible that your request wasn’t clear or that they don’t understand how to help you?
- Is it possible you made it hard for them to help you?
Here are four strategies that will transform how you approach following up.
1. Stop emailing and make a call or vice versa!
You might be awesome on the phone but because you are hiding behind your computer no one knows it. Also it’s really easy to ignore an email and hit delete yet much harder to hang up on someone.
On the flip side – some people are always in meetings and rarely have time or the opportunity to speak on the phone. Email is the best way to reach them as they are responsive and focused.
Check out this presentation on How to write emails people want to respond to:
2. Don’t talk about what you need – share new information (success story, make connection)
Let’s assume you have been talking to a potential client about buying your services. They know your motivation for contacting them and expect you to ask yet again where they stand on their decision making. Skip the check in and offer value instead. Sometimes all you need to do is stay top of mind and be valued by your contact to seal the deal.
If an article you read or wrote made you think of your client – send it to them.
If an event you are attending could be interesting for your client – invite them.
And if you have a success story about your service/product that is relevant to client – share it with them.
I can’t emphasize enough how many times a cold lead got hot just because I sent them a personalized note with an interesting article. The key here is to be thoughtful and personal – blast emails don’t count!
Nobody is perfect and everyone gets busy
All of us have been on the receiving end of follow up email where we meant to respond but got distracted with another activity or forgot. Did this mean that we didn’t care about helping this person? That we weren’t interested in the offering? Sometimes yes but sometimes no. If that person followed up again many are grateful for the reminder and take action.
Here is a sample of what you can write:
“You might have missed the email I sent over the holidays so I am attaching it again below – it’s worth you checking it out and considering it.”
See how you gave the person the benefit of the doubt?
Inspire action: “Let’s lock something down”
So many people write follow up email that look like this:
“Hope you are well. Just checking in with how you are doing and if I can answer any questions/help with anything.”
Would getting an email like that motivate you to take action? I didn’t think so.
Be specific with what you need regarding timing and specifics. Add a line that can seal the deal. One of my favorite lines to use came from Lou Diamond, a friend, colleague and a brilliant salesman who now is the CEO of FOBIA, a sales consultancy. He gave me the line: “Let’s lock something down this week.” Such a powerful and action oriented line. I love it!