Imagine this scenario.
Someone you meet online or at a networking meeting expresses interest in what you do. You go back to your office and wait. And wait. And wait. For them to contact you. And they don't. And you wonder what happened.
The key is that it's up to you to follow up.
Yet many conscious entrepreneurs shy away picking up the phone or writing an email that might lead to a new client.
Here are some of the reasons I've heard from clients when they don't want to follow up: "I don't want to seem pushy or salesy." "He probably won't hire me anyway so why bother." "If she really wants what I've got, she'll contact me." "I already left a voicemail. Now it's his turn to call me." "She won't remember who I am." "I'll feel awful if I follow up and it doesn't work out." "She was talking to [my competitor] at the meeting too. I don't stand a chance." "I don't have time." "He can't afford me."
These are stories we tell ourselves based on assumptions we make. They're rooted in our fears. And we don't have to lock ourselves into them.
What's the story you're telling yourself about following up? Is it really true? If you want to explore this angle more, I recommend the work of Byron Katie.
What happens when we don't follow up
Recently I was looking for a medical intuitive and put out a request on social media. I got several replies, including one from a lady I felt very drawn to. We exchanged emails. I told her I wasn't quite ready yet and then - I never heard from her again. In the meantime, I forgot her name. What are the chances we'll ever do business with each other?
For me, if a business owner is not interested enough to take that next step, it looks as if they don't want, need or value my business. Any connection or sense of rightness gets lost. As a result I'm more likely to move on to the next person who IS willing to nurture the connection.
As a conscious entrepreneur, by not following up you may be denying someone a valuable chance to change their lives. And you lose out on the opportunity to make an even bigger difference in the world.
What happens when we do follow up
I struggled (and occasionally still struggle) with the thought of following up too. But when I do make that call, my experiences are similar every time.
Without exception I hear variations on these themes:
- "I'm so glad you called. I've been meaning to get in touch but hadn't got around to it. "
- "It's great to hear from you. "
- "I really am not interested right now but maybe we can talk at a later date. Call me again in a month."
NO ONE has ever told me to 'get lost' or 'you're wasting my time' or anything similar. EVERYONE has been unfailingly polite and courteous.
Sometimes a follow up call leads to business, sometimes not. But at the very least - and this is not a small thing - it can lead to a relationship where we can support each other.
Some thoughts on how to make it easier
- If the expression 'follow up' brings up resistance in you, use a word that's not so loaded for you. Maybe 'reconnect'?
- Set aside any harshness towards yourself for lack of follow up in the past and the guilt around the fallout for your business. (You can go back and wallow in it later, if you want to).
- During your initial contact, ask for permission to follow up. "Is it OK with you if I give you a call next week?"
- Know how you'll begin the call so you're not flailing around trying to find words when someone answers the phone, and you end up babbling to fill the empty space.
- Be clear with the person about why you're getting in touch again.
- Focus on the other person and what they want.
- Don't rush the process. Detach from the idea that one conversation has to result in immediate business and if it doesn't, somehow you've failed.
- Don't take it personally if they don't want what you're offering.
- Do it again with the next person!
You can initiate follow up by email too and from there move to a telephone call. In the end, as a service provider, it's very likely you'll have to have a personal conversation at some point before someone hires you.
Has this sparked any ideas for you? Let me know!
If this is an area of concern for you and you feel you're losing business because of it, let's have a chat! You can hit reply to this message and email me to set up an appointment to talk. Or go here to contact me directly from this site:get_in_touch
Copyright 2016 Maggie Dennison