Finding Your Follow-Up Sweet Spot
You don’t get a second chance at a first impression, but remember that when you’re meeting with an employer, you’re not the only one on the other side of that table. An employer open to proposals is likely taking in a lot of information from several different sources, each one vying to win their business. You know that following up is important to make a good impression, but do you know where your sweet spot is to make sure you’re standing out for the right reasons?
Here are seven things to keep in mind when you’re building your follow-up strategy.
One: Do follow up. It’s part of your pitch.
If you’re in the business of pitching your business, you’re probably not shy about following up, but it bears saying anyway: don’t think of your follow-up as a separate entity. Just like emptying out the dishwasher is part of doing the dishes, following up with your prospects is part of your pitch – it comes after, but it shouldn’t be an afterthought.
Two: Assume you’ve slipped their mind.
You were on fire (not literally) when you gave your presentation. There’s no way they could have forgotten you and everything you bring to the table. Right? Wrong. You know you’re not the only one trying to convince your prospects that you’re the best person for the job, so make sure you’re taking the extra step to remind them of who you are and what you offer.
And remember that, depending on the situation, you may need to remind them more than once. As long as you’re not pushy or annoying about it, that’s perfectly okay.
Three: Branch your channels.
Email and phone are probably your go-to follow-up vehicles. But if your prospect is digital-savvy and active online, don’t be afraid to connect with them on LinkedIn after the meeting. Once the connection is confirmed, it doesn’t hurt to follow up through a LinkedIn message vs an email. It might help you stand out from everyone else just sitting in their inbox.
Four: Don’t get snippy.
Granted, having to do multiple follow-ups can start to grate on your nerves. Why aren’t these people responding?! It’s fine to be persistent, but don’t get frustrated. Your messages, whatever form they take, should be just as friendly and polite as the first one you sent. You might really want the business, but remember that no matter how incredible your presentation or your offering, the client doesn’t actually owe you anything. You’re trying to win their business, not force it.
Five: Every follow-up is an opportunity.
One of the best ways to woo prospects is to make your follow-up more than a check-in. Remember that in order to win business you need to prove your value. You can do this in several ways, for example reminding the prospect of the reasons you’re easy to do business with, or offering education or other resources for them to look into.
Always have a purpose when reaching out, and make sure you mention something specific that happened during the pitch. Personalizing your follow-up shows that you remember the details of the meeting and demonstrates that you’re doing more than going through the motions – you’re really thinking about your prospective client.
Six: The answer’s the thing.
The thing about sending follow-ups is that you’re after an answer. You have to be okay with the fact that, when you do eventually get one, that answer might be no. Whatever the answer, once you know where you stand you can move forward with renewed energy, whether it’s progressing your relationship with your “yes” clients or moving on from your “no”s.
Seven: Remember your manners.
It seems like a no-brainer, but never forget to say thank you. After all, these people are giving you their time to hear you tell them why they also should want to give you their money. You might be giving presentations day in and day out, and maybe it feels like routine to you, but you’re new to your prospects, and it never hurts to thank them for taking the time to hear you out.
You can reach out the same way you did your follow-ups, whether through email, phone, or social media. Or, to make a more tangible impression, pick up a pen. It takes a few extra minutes to write a paper thank-you note, but it’s a nice break from the flyers and bills that stuff most mailboxes and the recipient will notice you took the extra time to send something above and beyond.
It’s as true in the business world as it is anywhere else: building a relationship is all about communication. Follow-ups are vital to keeping those communication lines open, so it’s important to find the balance that works best for you, ensuring you stay present in your prospects’ thoughts and strengthening your chance at winning their business.