Whether each of us will admit it or not, we have all “dropped the ball” when it comes to following up. Even when we use a CRM (Customer Relationship Management system), it is still possible to click past a reminder, telling ourselves we’ll get back to it tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow.
So, what’s the best way to handle these forgotten calls? Here’s a few things to consider:
1. Time moves quickly for all of us. If you discover that you’re a week late following up with a prospect, know that unless they were on the verge of signing a contract with you, or facing a serious problem that only your solution could solve (and if this was the case, it’s unlikely you’d have forgotten about them!), chances are they won’t take any notice. One of the things I hear most often when I’m diligently following up with prospects and clients is “Didn’t we just talk a few days ago?” or “I thought you were going to call me next week”” or “I need more time to review that proposal.” So when there’s a short gap between the when you said you’d follow up and when you are following up my best advice is … don’t mention it at all.
2. If the gap is longer than a week or two, start your follow up conversation with an apology. You don’t have to – and really shouldn’t – get into any of the reasons why you’ve been delayed. The prospect or the customer doesn’t need to know. But they do need to know that you are aware of your error – and able to apologize. For me, the conversation starts something like this: “Hi Linda, it’s Mary Jane calling from The Phone Lady and I am so sorry. I meant to follow up with you last month and I allowed it to slip past me. What are your thoughts or questions on that proposal I sent you?”
3. No gap is too long. Seriously. I know this sounds a bit bizarre, but I’ve actually followed up on prospects that somehow got buried in a system for two years. You know what … I made a sale. What did I say? Well, I can’t remember exactly (it was years ago) but the call likely went something like this: “Hi Linda, it’s Mary Jane calling from The Phone Lady. It’s been ages since we last spoke and I apologize for not providing better follow up. What are some of the challenges you and your sales team are facing today?”
Remember that all of us … and I do mean ALL of us … have at some point forgotten to do something for a prospect or client. The majority of people are empathetic when this happens … as long as it only happens once, maybe twice. So if you are staring at a lead that at one time you thought would be a fabulous client but you haven’t called them because you should have called last month or last year … put aside your trepidation and pick up the phone!
(This is my last planned post on follow up, however, if you have a story you’d like to share or a specific topic you’d like me to include in a post, please let me know in the comment section below.)
Enjoy your phone work everyone!