Disciplined follow-up with potential clients is a challenge for most of us. For some reason, our negative self-talk gets a bit louder and more assertive when it comes to this task.
Some of the things we tell ourselves include:
- “If they’re interested, they’ll call me.”
- “They likely need more time to consider my proposal. I won’t follow up yet.”
- “If I haven’t heard from them, it means they aren’t interested.”
- “I can’t call now. They’ll think I’m a pest, or desperate.”
None of the above are true; they are all connected to our fear of rejection. They don’t take into consideration that the person who is considering working with us needs our help. Questions have arisen, or they have additional requests, but they are busy and haven’t had time to reach out.
Following up and inspiring conversation is one simple way to continually increase our revenue.
What do you say? And what might happen when you make these calls?
Recently I was staring at my CRM file for a very busy vice president of sales. In mid-May, we’d had a lovely conversation and I had sent her a proposal. Three weeks had gone by and I needed to follow up, yet I was hesitating.
I know her to be extremely diligent and disciplined, and I was telling myself that she’d call me when she was ready. I pushed that thought aside and … dialed her number. (One of the things I admire about her is her belief that when her phone rings … she should answer it. She’s found that it creates more work if she lets it go to voicemail.)
When she answered, I simply said, “I’m following up on my proposal to see what questions or comments have come up.”
In the conversation this inspired, she let me know that she’d shared my proposal with a corporate division responsible for larger training projects. They were unfamiliar with my work and they had different and very specific criteria not addressed by my proposal. It had been decided that I couldn’t meet their needs.
But I could! In discussing the situation I was able to indicate that I had both the experience and capacity to deliver on the needs of her colleagues. She was very pleased. We agreed I would amend my original proposal, send it to her, and she would forward it to her contacts and include me in the email.
The final result … I’m delivering a series of eight webinars between July 14 and August 4.
This is work I would not have received without a conversation. Exchanging email with my contact would not have revealed the assumptions that had been made about my capabilities. The idea of a second proposal never would have been shared. The email introduction to the other corporate division wouldn’t have happened.
Conversations matter and follow-up is essential. Without them, we abandon the opportunities waiting for us.