Big Business Blunders: The Importance of Follow-Up When You’re On The Sell-Side

Here’s something funny: My clients are always amazed that when I schedule a 9am phone call with them, their phone rings precisely at 9am. Why is this funny? Because it doesn’t happen to them more often. Isn’t the number one rule in client relationships to have respect for the client? Well, what greater sign of respect is there than valuing someone’s time? As someone with services to sell, my sell-side effort must have a punctuality factor built-in.

What’s not funny about all this is hearing the numerous stories of sell-side blunders, particularly in the department of follow-up. Often, while caught in the trance of ‘keeping up’ with our jobs, we forget that there’s another person involved in the business transaction at hand. The short-sightedness that permeates the business world should serve as a wake-up call for all professionals. Here are three doozies to put things into perspective, along with their proactive solutions. Names have been changed to protect the ‘offenders’, since the following scenarios actually happened.

Blunder #1: Rachel

Sara graciously introduced Rachel, a website designer, to Jane. Sara knew that Jane was going to be in the market for a web designer, since she just launched a new business. When Sara asked Rachel the following week about her interaction with Jane, Rachel had to admit that she hadn’t yet gotten around to responding to the introduction.

The Solution: Knowing that she had a hot lead, Rachel should have reached out right away. Since she didn’t, Sara should note this and think twice about reaching out to Rachel in the future. If a repeat were to occur, Sara could begin to gain a bad reputation among her professional peers.

Blunder #2: Louise

Louise, a marketing specialist, was introduced to Andrea, a realtor who is progressive and expressed an interest in learning more about Louise’s services. Louise reached out to Andrea by email and suggested that Andrea find a convenient date on Louise’s calendar service and book the appointment. Then Louise sent Andrea a confusing note explaining “oops”….the spot she had chosen was actually double-booked and she needed Andrea to go back and choose again.

The Solution: Louise needs to make it easier for potential clients to book appointments with her. For instance, she should have offered Andrea three specific dates that were available in Louise’s calendar in the introductory email. This would have made it easy for Andrea to choose. The email should also have invited Andrea to suggest alternative dates, if none offered were convenient for Andrea. Buyers shouldn’t have to ‘work’ to buy.

Blunder #3: Carol

The Acme Law Firm was looking for a career coach to work with some of their partner candidates. Maggie introduced Carol (a coach) to the firm. Six months later, when Maggie was having coffee with her contact at the firm, the contact mentioned Carol’s work with the firm, revealing that Carol never told Maggie that she had scored a job as a result of her introduction!

The Solution: If Carol had remembered that an appropriate follow-up for a successful introduction takes no more than a quick email note expressing gratitude, she could have saved her professional relationship with Maggie and possibly been introduced by Maggie to additional clients in the future. If your handwriting is legible, a handwritten note goes even further. In the instance of a “big score”, a small gift would be in order. Consider the good deed doer’s interests, and personalize the gift (a bottle of wine shipped to her office, for instance).


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