The fact that I have been “wanting” to write this article for a long time but am just now getting to it is the perfect example of why follow up in business is truly an art. I say this because I am no different from the people you are trying to connect with on a daily basis to grow your business, land a big deal, or get a promotion; we are all very busy. So how to you break through the noise and accomplish the key goals that are important to you on a daily basis?
The answer is follow up and persistence. No I don’t mean you just bug people so much they will listen to you. It’s a bit more of an art then that. The cliché “it’s a marathon, not a race” has never been truer. There are no shortcuts in business and it truly does take consistent and steady hard work.
It’s also one of the most difficult things to manage, as you yourself get busier and busier. Here are a few key things to help with your “follow up strategy” that will undoubtedly turn into immediate results if you are consistent:
- Execs Are Busy: Remember the people you are hoping to connect with are very, very busy. Most likely whatever you want to speak with them about is very low on their list of priorities. This doesn’t mean you’re in no way relevant and I’d assume you are relevant if you’re even pursuing a conversation (that’s a whole other topic). But remembering that they are very busy is the first thing in the process. It will dictate your approach to the following steps. Empathize with them first and remember they have a lot going on besides your agenda.
- Focus the Conversation: Now that we’ve established how busy everyone is, how do you break through? You need to truly focus down to what your core agenda truly is. Are you trying to get a promotion? Are you looking for a referral? Are you hoping to get a meeting to share your business? Hone in on exactly what your main goal is and focus the conversation on that. It’s very easy to get distracted and try to dance around the topic but getting right to the point will help cut through and open a true dialogue.
- Add Value: Now this is an overused phrase I know but I couldn’t find another way to get the point across. We have to assume you have something of value otherwise you’re just asking for handouts which wont get you anywhere. Try to find ways to show, illustrate, communicate, the value you provide. Whether its showing your boss a recap of recent successes that make her look good or showing a prospective client specific information that could be useful to them. Ultimately people respond to those they think add something to their daily goals.
- Be Prepared: So what happens when you DO get that VP Marketing on the phone when you have been calling for months? Do you have exactly what you want to talk about ready to go, prepared, relevant, and concise? So many of us focus so much on getting the meeting, or landing a big pitch, that we forget that that’s only the beginning. Going back to rule #1 keep in mind that you must have your story straight and clear to make the best use of someone’s time when given the opportunity.
- Don’t Give Up: Sounds obvious right? Well I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard things like “we tried getting in touch with them but no luck”. We have all heard stories of the most successful businesses and how the founder heard “NO” about a 100 times before finding someone to take a chance on them. It’s that persistence that separates the winners from the losers. You have to believe in what you’re doing so strongly that no matter how many times you get a “No”, or “not interested” or “not at this time”, that you keep going and stay on track. Nothing will come easy but for the ones who stay persistent and push through, there will be big rewards.