There’s this saying in marketing…
Fortune is in the follow-up.
On its surface it makes total sense – you get business by following up. Duh, Angie… why are we even talking about this?
We’re talking about it because this is, in my experience, the intersection between “good business practices” and “it’s not personal” where so many folks get supremely uncomfortable.
It’s so hard to put yourself out there the first time, that if it’s not an instant yes, we think of a million reasons why it was a resounding no.
It’s to the point that I’ll go out of my way to tell people that now is not a good time but please do call me back… and am astonished every single time that they DON’T ACTUALLY CALL ME BACK.
This happened to me very recently… a classic case of bad timing.
I’d decided to save up and splurge for a deep cleaning for my house. It was my reward to me for busting ass in Q4 last year and hitting some major goals.
If you’ve ever looked for house cleaners, you know it’s a bit of a dance. No one wants to outright list a price (or even a price range) online… they all want you to fill out a survey with name, phone, email, details on the size of your house and just how clean you want it to be (GET THEM BASEBOARDS YO) and they’ll have their sales team call and close the appointment.
I did find one company who called a couple times. Sucks for them because I don’t answer phone calls from folks I don’t know… thanks friggin’ robocallers.
And even though they didn’t leave a voicemail, they DID follow up with an email asking to talk about my cleaning needs so they could quote me accurately/set up a time to come by.
They got in touch right after my aunt passed away last month – I was a wreck, my family was a wreck, there were travel plans and funeral arrangements being bandied about, plus holiday craziness.
I replied to the email and told the lady – I’m very much interested, I just can’t do this right now. Please do reach out to me after the holidays and we can get this taken care of.
She graciously sent her condolences in a reply, and promised to follow up.
Here it is, more than two weeks post holiday, and no follow-up.
Now I gotta start the house cleaner hunt all over again.
And I know that’s not personal either. There are a hundred different reasons she might not have called/emailed back, including:
- She forgot to write it down
- She wrote it down and forgot where she put it
- She no longer works with the company and didn’t share the message
- The company burned to the ground and there’s no record of my quote request anywhere
But this just goes to show you how EASY it is to earn business simply by following up.
If you’re not talking to people who are clearly expressing interest in what you have to offer…
If you’re coming up with reasons NOT to reach out, like:
“Eh, that was clearly a blow off, she didn’t mean it.”
“You don’t have time for me? Fine, I don’t have time for you either.”
“I’m gonna call back and he’s gonna put me off to a later date again.”
You’re potentially slamming the door on good business for you.
Counting the potential for becoming a return customer who sends referrals? That’s not a risk I’m personally willing to take.
What if she DID mean it? What if he DID have time and it’s just that now is not a good time? What if you called back and they WERE ready?
I can’t project my own thoughts on their situation and assume something different than what they told me.
I can’t make business into something personal.
If someone goes out of their way to ask me to circle back in X weeks, the first thing I do is mark it in my calendar and copy in all the info I have. That way in X weeks, I get a handy dandy notification to follow up along with all the context on our past conversations.
I literally landed a retainer contract doing email advertising for a digital marketing agency by doing this exact thing.
So few people follow up when they say they will that THIS BECAME A SAYING Y’ALL.
Fortune is in the follow-up. This is business, it’s not personal.
So remember next time you’re tempted to blow off reaching out for fear of bothering someone, or being annoying, or being blown off yourself.
They might not be ready.
But if they are, then it’s game on baby.