Top business development tip: follow up

I had a Twitter direct message (DM) exchange with a friend last week which amused me. He had referred a potential client to me and received good feedback from the client after I had spoken to him (the client) on the phone. A few days later I hadn’t heard anything so mentioned this in a DM to my friend. His response: “Well top tip – follow him up!”.

It is second nature to me to follow things up – contacts met at a networking a contact, a pitch, a referral, a potential lead – as it is an integral part of business development. Yet the response from my friend led me to think about how many business people do actually fail to follow up.

There are at least two occasions which immediately spring to mind when I met a business contact, they said they would send me further information and I’ve never heard from them again. One was a provider of social media services and the other, a business which makes videos for web content. Both services are of interest to me in my role as a Marketing Consultant. There will inevitably be situations when I will be sourcing these services on behalf of my clients. Yet neither person took the time to follow up. Even more disappointing is that they both took my business card and specifically said they would. Am I likely to go to the aforementioned providers when I am seeking a supplier? Most definitely not.

The law of seven touches, a widely adopted selling strategy, holds that we must interact with potential clients seven times or more before they will buy our goods or services. A simple follow up email or telephone call counts as a ‘touch’ and takes us further along the road to the ultimate goal of winning a client.

With the many communication tools now available to us: letter, telephone, email, Twitter, LinkedIn, Skype… there is a communication medium for every user’s preference and really no excuse not to follow up! Lack of time is often cited as a reason for failure to follow up but then this brings into question why you are engaging in a particular business development activity if you do not have enough time to follow it through.

If you really want to develop a relationship, win the client or even just leave someone with a good impression then make sure you follow up. If you don’t then you can be sure that someone else will and your opportunity will be gone!

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