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Posted: August 16, 2011

Following up isn’t optional

Stop making excuses and just do it!

Liz Wendling

What's your excuse for not following up? These days everyone seems to have one. Some of the tired and overused excuses are; too busy, not enough time, didn't get around to it, or I forgot. It doesn't really matter what your excuse is because there's no excuse for not following up. You're losing money every day when you engage in this costly business behavior.

Following up is a critical part of the sales process but sadly it's become the most neglected. There are many reasons why sales are lost, but one of the biggest reasons is poor or no follow-up. How many sales are you losing by neglecting to follow up? Sales follow-up is a critical part of relationship selling and omitting this step creates a fatal flaw in the process. Plus, it's part of your job!

Actions speak louder than words; people need to stop talking about following up and actually start doing it. Failure to follow up happens in every industry, every day, and it affects all of us personally and professionally. With this type of negligence, it's not surprising that so many business owners and salespeople are struggling.

I've often wondered why someone would bother to start a business, deliver a sales presentation or meet with a new customer and then not take the time to stay connected and get back to potential customers. How in the world can you not find the time to follow up and complete the business you've started? If you willingly let your customers fall through the cracks due to a lack of organization, failure to follow-through or poor communication, you jeopardize the sale, your professional reputation and the potential for referrals.

Think about how many times that you, as a customer, have walked away from a business because of poor follow-up. How many times were you willing to pay more for a product because of better service? Poor communication or lack of responsiveness is a leading reason customers leave businesses for a competitor. It's the easiest fix for most businesses and an instant way to generate more sales.

There's a big disconnect between what people are saying and what they are doing. Think about how much time, money and energy you've put into developing sales strategies, networking and advertising. Dropping the ball at the follow-up stage sends a message to customers that they can't count on you. This isn't only unprofessional sales behavior, it's bad business. Is that the first impression you want to leave with your potential customers - that you talk the talk but can't walk the walk?

It's a critical, costly mistake and there is absolutely no good reason to neglect this aspect of business. Excuses don't work for serious business owners and salespeople. There's just no excuse for dropping the ball on potential business. Not one.

Following up is in your control, it's your choice and it's an easy way to differentiate yourself from other salespeople. It's a unique way show your commitment to your customers. Plus, it's your job.

A good follow-up system will generate sales and keep your business in business. It's an investment you can't afford to pass up if you want to stay ahead of your competition. Customers respect business owners and salespeople who are efficient, organized and dedicated enough to follow up and follow through in a professional manner. When you follow up, you win customers.

Since few salespeople follow up properly with customers, you will truly stand out when you do. Great salespeople write things down, they have a daily to-do system, they return calls, they keep their promises and they do what they say they'll do.

In the sales world there are those who think about it and talk about it, and then there are those who just do it. This bad business behavior must stop! How much is not following up costing you? Put a dollar amount on that and you'll be shocked. Follow up and follow through. Remember, it's your job!


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Liz Wendling is the president of Insight Business Consultants, a nationally recognized business consultant, sales strategist and emotional intelligence coach. Liz is driven by her passion for business and generating results for her clients. Liz understands the challenges that business owners are facing building a business and selling their professional services in today's market.

Liz shows clients how to tap into and use their innate strength, power and confidence to develop highly successful businesses. She teaches them to create effective, dynamic and fluid client conversations that turn interested prospects into invested clients who keep coming back.

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Readers Respond

Thank you Liz for this confirmation. As a result of following this best practice, I am seeing positive outcomes. I must admit, a year ago this article was definitely talking to me. I have now made it a discipline in my business operation. As you pointed out, it's a critical, costly mistake to neglect this aspect of business. So many small businesses lack understanding about this process. Again thank you for the article! By Adriane Sanford on 2011 08 25
You are spot on! I've been conducting an online survey for 2 years now. With close to 500 replies it's apparent people who sell DON'T understand that they owe it to the prospective client TO do the follow-up. It's their obligation. I like how you say it, "It's your job." Here's the most recent stats in terms of the top 4 ways people do or do not follow-up: Persistently with a series of planned activities. 8.0% I would do it if but I am too busy with other things. 8.0% It’s a hit and miss process. 50.0% I feel like I am bothering people so tend to not do it. 34.0% If anyone would like to take the - sales reluctance survey they can do so in just 2 minutes (there are 4 questions) at 80% of sales happen AFTER the 5th contact and yet, 80% of people who sell - don't go beyond the 3rd! Collectively we are leaving a LOT of money out there. Patricia Weber Business Coach for Introverts, Shy and Reluctant By Patricia Weber on 2011 08 17
Good Afternoon Liz; Thank you so much for the article. I have been looking for a training article for my front line sales staff in the Service Operations Center. This is the NUMBER ONE complaint nationwide in my Industry is "NO" Follow up. It does not make any difference If you have Great information or bad information for the customer "Follow Up". Customer's are begging to be contacted!! Great Article I very much appreciate the information. I read all of your articles as they are published. Thanks You Sincerely; Bob Silcox By Bob Silcox on 2011 08 16

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