More By This Author

Current Issue

Current Issue

Posted: November 25, 2013

Stand out from the crowd: One simple step

Read on to find out more

Teri Karjala

Recently, I attended a workshop and met an individual with whom I was interested in doing business. I loved the service she offered and expressed my interest in attending her upcoming classes. She assured me by placing my name on her sign-in sheet that she would send me information. I was so excited and ready to buy now!

That was six weeks ago; I have yet to hear a word. So, the ball is in my court to follow up with her. This experience made me wonder: How often do people in my position actually feel the need to follow up? How many of us put forth an honest effort to close the loop? The bottom line is, without the follow-up, a business prospect is lost.

In eight years of attending about one networking event a week, I have met and interacted with more than 2,500 people. From that figure, only four people – yes, only four – have followed up with me. Those four who prioritized a follow-up response had a huge impact on me.  Simply put, the person who follows up is the one who comes to mind first when it comes to potential business.

What message are you sending to potential prospects? When you don’t follow-up it can be viewed as a negative reflection on your business, especially if a response was promised or expected. Be mindful of the message you send when you don’t send a follow-up message!

Here, in my counseling office, my staff takes pride in following-up to first time inquiries immediately. I have been thanked on numerous occasions in person, on the telephone, and via email offering a simple "thank you" for taking time to follow-up. Why is this important to us? Because our goal is sending the powerful message that we care about our clients. We are confident that, by doing this before we are partners, once the partnership commences, clients can rest assured they are in the best hands.

I took this issue to my social media page where respondents revealed their mental blocks and excuses.

 

Blocks/excuses

Food for Thought

Not enough time

Make time! It will take about two minutes for a quick and effective email follow-up. The potential impact on your business is tremendous. “I forget,” is a common excuse. If you’re posting in the mail, a great tip is to keep follow-up letters in your car with envelopes already addressed and stamped.

Lazy/poor time management

 

Create a system of follow-up that works best for you. I find setting up email scripts, auto-responders, etc., makes it easy. I highly recommend customizing each response by reflecting on a conversation you had, or citing something in particular you appreciated.

Afraid of rejection/lack of confidence

 

It is easy to become preoccupied with the pressure to communicate effectively and to close the sale. Bob Burg has great books addressing communication challenges including conversation starters. http://www.burg.com/10Q.html

Take a look at how you present yourself and make your introduction. Also, take a look at my previous article about how to make your appearance, or "show-up." http://www.cobizmag.com/articles/six-tips-to-showing-well-when-you-show-up

I’m just putting in the required time.

 

Surprisingly, I have received this response several times. To quote the old adage, ‘you reap what you sow." Take a closer look at what you would like to gain from networking interactions. Sort out ways to make your time work for you.

 

When follow up is employed, these are the values the potential client sees.

  • Reliability
  • Thoughtfulness
  • They are remembered
  • Genuine desire to take care of current clients and potentials they refer to you 
  •  Professional relationship
  • Possible partnership (at that point the sky is the limit)

Teri’s Wisdom Tips

  • At networking events, focus on the relationship and get to know that person. Don’t simply show up and pass out your business card. That is not seen as professional and people might dispose of your card then and there.
  • When you follow-up, think of ways to add value. Perhaps a suggestion based on your conversation, a book or business related article recommendation, or invite them to a future event.
  • Never promise you will follow up unless you stay true to that promise.
  • Write a thank you card. I use two different ones depending on the circumstance; one is a thank you card with company logo and the other is a post card modeled after Bob Burg’s example.
  • Send a quick email. Once you have a system in place, to save time, you can easily use your copy/paste feature to send to multiple recipients.   
  • Give a quick phone call. Even through voice mail, you can state how wonderful it was to meet them and mention scheduling a meeting at some point.
  • The average number of times a contact is made to a potential client is seven before people start to know, trust, and feel comfortable doing business with you. This follow-up is critical in creating those power partner relationships.
  • Explore the use of an auto-responder system. There will be some upfront time spent in arranging it, but once you have it in place, it’s easy to maintain and the payoffs can be long lasting.

Teri Karjala is owner of the Creative Counseling Center, LLC, as well as Talking With Teri, LLC. Teri’s passion for the business aspects of owning and maintaining a business has made her a sought out coach by others in the helping fields. She is a regular columnist for ColoradoBiz Magazine and speaks to therapists across the nation in building their thriving practice. Recently she has released her “How to Live Deliciously” Creative Journal Series to help inspire and empower adults, teens, and children. These are available in print at www.talkingwithteri.com.

Enjoy this article? Sign up to get ColoradoBiz Exclusives. The opinions expressed in this article are solely that of the author and do not represent ColoradoBiz magazine. Comments on articles will be removed if they include personal attacks.

Readers Respond

Hey Terri, That"f" word (follow up) has become a big obstacle in businesses today. Using "I ran out of time" and "I'm so busy" excuses are just excuses to stay stuck in mediocrity. As you so beautifully stated. Stand out and follow up OR blend in and drop the ball and leave a negative impression. Happy Thanksgiving to you. Liz By liz wendling on 2013 11 25
Commenting is not available in this channel entry.

ColoradoBiz TV

Loading the player ...

Featured Video