5 Simple Steps to Timely Followups

Following up in a timely fashion is key to the sales process.  For some helpful tips, I turned to Mitzi Weinman, president of TimeFinder.  Mitzi writes:

I remember working with a client, the president of a manufacturing company.  I was coaching him on his personal productivity and on decluttering his office.  At the time, he was looking for a new accounting firm.

As we cleared the clutter, he threw away a proposal from a firm that wanted his business. I asked why. He responded that he had met with one of the firm's representatives, but had never received the additional information that he had requested. He wondered, "If they treat me that way as a prospect, how will they treat me as a client?"

His point was on target.  A phone call or email can make the difference in getting a sale or not.  Following up has to be part of the sale process. For example, one of my clients who worked for a marketing firm would meet with prospective clients regularly.  He explained that when he would return to the office, he did not have time to do the follow-on work from his meetings.  I asked him how often he had to get information back to a prospect after he met with them.  His answer was, "Always."    

Because following up with prospects was predictable, he had to plan for it.

What are successful strategies for following up?

  1. Anticipate the need to follow up and block out time before the meeting to work on the follow up.
  2. Try to estimate how long the follow ups will take to prepare and deliver, based on the type of work required, sophistication of the client, etc.
  3. As soon as you indicate to someone that you will get back to them, mark the date you committed to in your calendar, planner, etc.  Know what you have already planned on your calendar so you can be realistic in setting expectations.
  4. If you have a team, let other members of your team know about your meeting(s) and set expectations on what they may also need to work on.  Find out about their impending deadlines.
  5. Don't put yourself in a position where you are apologizing for not following through.  This negatively impacts your client or prospects perception of your ability to get things done on their behalf.

Following up gives you credibility. You demonstrate that you care and that you deliver.  When you say that you will get back to someone, do so - even if it is to say that you don't have the information yet, but that you are working on it. Clients, prospects and associates don't want to hear that you're busy as an excuse for missing deadlines.

Anticipate, plan ahead, block out time and do what you say you will do.  When you do what you say you're going to do, as promised, it positions you and your company to stand out from the others.

Mitzi Weinman, founder of TimeFinder, helps people develop good habits and techniques to reduce stress which can result from procrastinating, feeling disorganized and overwhelmed, and rushing to get things done, at work and/or at home.  Mitzi's clients include: New Balance, Reebok, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston Symphony Orchestra, WGBH, Lojack, Grant Thornton, Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Weston and Sampson Engineers, Pearson Education and Marriott University.  Mitzi is the author of "It's About Time -- Transforming Chaos into Calm, A to Z," soon to be available.