Facing the fear of follow-up is often a daunting task for most sales professionals and small business owners. In this story, one small business owner found success when she faced her fear.
In the summer of 2019, Julie had scheduled a call with a new prospect in the hopes of getting a new client for her freelance writing business. Kathy, the prospect, works for a large environmental agency and had first contacted Julie after seeing her website and liking the content she writes on sustainability.
After a conference call with several team members, the project manager indicated they’d like to have Julie start with one project and, should that one go well, follow it up with a package of content from there. Before hanging up, Julie indicated she’d be back in touch soon to follow up.
However, after multiple failed attempts to get back in touch, Julie came to the assumption she wasn’t going to hear back and decided to focus on other business that was right in front of her. She put Kathy on the back burner.
Building Follow-Up into Communication
Then, as the New Year approached, Julie decided to do an “end of year” follow-up campaign with many of the prospects she’d connected with over the previous year, including an email to Kathy.
The email simply said, “Hi Kathy. I hope you’re doing well. I’m just following up from our last conversation and would love to see where you are on the content we talked about. I also noticed you haven’t updated your website lately. It would be great to see if you might need some help with that as well. I’ll give you a call on January 3rd at 2pm. If that time doesn’t work for you, feel free to suggest a time that works better.”
Building follow-up into an email is a piece of the follow-up system I taught Julie.
Keeping Your Word to Follow-Up
When January 3rd arrived, Julie called Kathy promptly at 2pm, just as she’d promised in the email. But much to her disappointment, Kathy didn’t answer.
Julie left a message. “Hi Kathy. I sent you an email on the 23rd of December, and I’m calling to check in with you. Hope you had a great holiday season! When you have a minute, give me a call.” Julie then left her number and hung up, moving on to her next project.
Two hours later, Kathy emailed Julie back. In her email, she said she’d received Julie’s email and really appreciated the follow-up. She also told Julie she had a project for her, and they scheduled a phone call to go over the details. Over the next couple of weeks, Julie wrote a press release that was published by the organization.
After it was published, another of the organization’s leaders contacted Julie. John told her how happy they’d been with the press release and mentioned they’d like to have her write another.
Julie took that opportunity to remind John of the original discussion about signing a contract for a package of content if they were pleased with the first project. While he seemed surprised at Julie’s boldness, John asked her to send a proposal. The following day, Julie sent the proposal, and it was approved in less than 24 hours.
This is an absolute, clear case of the money being in the follow-up. Julie could have easily moved on to other prospects after Kathy didn’t respond to her back in the summer and never followed up with her again. However, Julie’s continued attempts and her follow-up campaign put her front and center in the mind of this organization.
By keeping herself top of mind, Julie was greatly rewarded.
Facing the Fear of Follow-Up
So many sales professionals and business owners are afraid to offend their prospects by following up with them.
- They’re afraid of coming off salesy.
- They’re afraid of missing a better opportunity.
- They’re afraid the business will never happen.
- They’re afraid they’re working too hard.
- They’re afraid of being rejected.
And the fears go on and on.
However, most sales come as a result of follow-up. Unless you’re selling shoes at a DSW, you’ll rarely close a sale on the first attempt. At minimum, most sales worth having will happen after the 5th attempt.
I want to encourage you, as well as myself, to NEVER STOP FOLLOWING UP!
Never Giving Up on Follow-Up
Countless times I’ve been asked, “When should I stop following up?” or “When is enough enough?”
My answer is always the same. Until your prospect tells you they’ll never, ever hire you, don’t stop following up. Until that day comes, which rarely does, you must continue to follow up and stay in front of your prospects. When they need you, they’ll remember you as a result of your touches.
This means having a system in place for following up with prospects. Don’t attempt to base your follow-up on your memory. If you’re like most people, you’ll certainly forget more than you’ll remember. Use a CRM and develop a multiple touch system that keeps you in regular contact with your prospects.
I’d be happy to help you develop a system of follow-up for your business. I’m actually pretty good at that.
In the meantime, congratulations Julie on facing the fear of follow-up and getting a well-deserved contract.