Do you ever feel like you’re just spinning your wheels, that despite your hard work, your efforts don’t really pay off?
What if there was one tiny shift you could make that could transform your outcomes in a big way? What if you could multiply your impact to propel your business forward, while growing your network and making the most of each opportunity?
Is there a secret formula to success? If there is, it’s follow up.
“Either you follow up, or you fold up.” --Personal Brand Strategist Bernard Kelvin Clive
It might not be glamorous, but it is effective. A lot has been written about follow up in sales, where the results are most obvious and dramatic, but follow up is key in product development, customer success, networking, personal branding, mentorship and any kind of problem-solving process.
Follow up can also help gather insights that are generated after a meeting, conference call or workshop is over. A brief follow up phone call or conversation can help clarify details and steps forward, or help you gain input from stakeholders who might have kept quiet during the initial session. Follow up captures the thoughts of people once they’ve had a chance to think more deeply about a topic. It also helps to keep an idea alive, continuing to generate enthusiasm and energy. Follow up is key to momentum or traction, it drives innovation forward.
In sales and customer service, follow up is a great way to differentiate yourself and stand out from the crowd. It establishes credibility and creates trust and good will.
And yet, follow up is difficult, especially without a system.
How often have you inadvertently neglected the following tasks?
- Sending over an article, link or answer to a question about your product or service, to an investor, contractor or customer
- Taking meaningful action on an idea that emerges in a conversation or meeting
- Calling or emailing a prospect or potential partner following the initial contact
- Forgetting to add a new contact to your CRM, or to make a connection
- Forwarding customer feedback to your engineers, product people or marketing team
Often, a lack of follow up is experienced by the other side as a broken promise.
Why is follow up so hard?
Ideation is arguably the most exciting part of creative work. Coming up with ideas, meeting new people, and figuring out how to solve a problem is rewarding and exciting, but following up on these ideas can be less thrilling. Making phone calls, doing research and digging into all the practical details of how an idea or opportunity can be realized takes a systematic, documented process.
Follow up doesn’t happen by accident. If you rely on memory and good intentions to keep track of all your follow up tasks, you’ll only have intermittent success, and very little forward motion.
Follow up requires commitment, discipline, and the right tools.
Getting into the habit of immediately scheduling follow ups and making important notes is the most important thing you could ever do. Don’t rely on memory. While smart technology can help you keep track of tasks, it can’t input important details from a conversation you’ve had with a new contact or lead. Those details might make all the difference, so note them immediately. It might be awkward to begin with, but using your smartphone on the spot to document is the best way to follow up. If you’ve bonded with someone over a shared experience or common problem, that becomes a bridge back to the initial excitement and relevancy of your original conversation.
When in doubt, follow up. It literally only takes a minute to schedule a follow up, make a connection, or send an invite, but once you neglect it, you can never go back. How many times have you met someone at a conference or event, but neglected to connect or document it because it didn’t seem immediately relevant--only to regret it later?
Following up before a contact
Because of social networks, it’s possible to follow up before a contact or meeting. Gathering information or data beforehand can make a meeting or conference many times more productive or relevant, and set the stage for an even richer follow through. Even better, sending out a pre-call message or a link to a relevant article or resource can make the initial contact many times more effective.
When a good idea emerges from a team meeting or brainstorming session, immediately create tasks to test its viability and loop in the relevant stakeholders. Don’t let the excitement cool, but act while you can build on the initial ethusiasm. By following up quickly, it will become immediately apparent whether an idea has merit or not.
Maximize the medium
A follow up phone call can help you clarify details or reach a consensus on steps forward, while an informational email is a great way to follow up on questions or requests. Text or messaging is a great way to let people know you are sending more information, or to reinforce your commitment or enthusiasm. Using a multi-media approach can be an effective way to get your message across without seeming repetitive while maximizing the strengths of different platforms and channels.
Implement (and use) the right technology
Selecting and using the right technology makes following up painless and error free. Invites can be easily sent out, and calendar updates can keep you on track. Notes can be easily dictated or entered. But while the technology to make our lives easier has never been more accessible or easy to use, we sometimes resist it, because it means changing our habits. The best technology makes it easy to change our behavior, and helps us adopt it.
Does your office phone system help you follow up?
At Spoke Phone we’ve built a virtual office phone system that helps you take and make more calls, and keeps a live log of missed calls that haven’t been followed up with by a team member. It helps you stay organized by updating your directory and can be managed entirely from your smartphone. You can easily add or delete team members, and all your proprietary call data and contact information is stored in our secure application. We’re also building features to help you work better on the go, including voice-to-text transcription and the ability to clip snippets from a call for easy sharing and follow up.
In addition to making your business many times more productive and impactful, follow up can help you get organized, and stay focused on the business at hand. Following up promptly allows you to clear your mind and move on to the next task, without doubts about unfinished or neglected tasks in the back of your mind.
To learn more about whether Spoke can help you run a more productive and impactful business, sign up for a personal demo, or subscribe to the blog to follow the latest product developments.