Dismay is a common reaction when I talk to entrepreneurs, salespeople and fundraisers about follow up. The discipline and persistence involved is uncomfortable for most people. And I do understand. No one wants to be perceived as a pest, or as some people put it, a stalker!
Yet the mind shift to consistent follow up is necessary if we want to increase both customer satisfaction and revenue. One of the keys to understanding this is contained in the phrase “no news is good news”.
While I’m sure I heard this expression many times prior to my teens, it played a significant role in my life the year I turned 17. My dad was in the hospital in Toronto undergoing tests. I was in Timmins on my own – going to school, working part-time and really looking forward to his home coming. The tests seemed to take forever and I was always anxious for the phone call that would contain the results. And all the adults in my life kept saying “No news is good news.”
I have to admit, I did not understand at all what they meant. It seemed kind of nutty. How could this waiting be good? I remember very clearly how frustrated and annoyed I got when yet another adult ended a conversation with that phrase.
In the meantime, my Dad and I spoke every Sunday (long distance on a weekday was prohibitive back then – you called after midnight or on Sundays). We stayed connected even though there was no final answer to share.
Then one school night the phone did ring. The tests were complete and … the news wasn’t good. After I hung up I remember thinking, “Oh, that’s what that phrase means.” You see, no news meant there was still hope. No news meant something positive was possible.
I didn’t connect that life experience with my phonework until I read Natasha’s post, The Sound of Silence. While her circumstances are different, the idea is the same. When clients aren’t happy – or when the answer is no – they will tell us.
While I don’t have concrete data, my experienced guess is that 92% of the time when our prospects or clients do not call us, it is because they haven’t yet made a decision.
So why follow up then? Why not simply wait until they get back to you? Because, just like with me and my Dad, our follow up strengthens the relationship. They “hear” that we really want their business, that we are diligent and persistent, that we care about their needs. Our follow up supports their decision to say “yes”.
Enjoy your phonework this week!