By Russ Trahan
“Bryan, we appreciate your proposal submission, but we have decided to go in another direction. We require more consistent interaction from our business partners, and while we scheduled today to finalize our decision, we had yet to hear from you in the interim. We wish you the best of luck.”
This email hit Bryan like a freight train. He had avoided a formal follow-up process for fear of seeming overeager or pressuring his prospect, but he had maintained casual connections through his LinkedIn and Facebook accounts to keep his name “out there.” While Bryan assumed the company would appreciate his distance while they were in the process of making their decision, it actually became the nail in his corporate coffin. They were waiting for traditional follow-up methods, and his lack of correspondence instead conveyed that he was NOT the right man for the job.
In an ever-expanding digital business landscape, Bryan’s story is all too familiar. Many professionals are exchanging established means of follow-up, such as phone calls and face-to-face meetings, for quick messages over social media or email – and it’s impacting their business relationships and bottom lines. As it turns out, when it comes to follow-up, the best practices are still the traditional ones.
* Social media is for BUILDING business connections — Social media can prove invaluable for creating connections, but maintaining them – as is the objective when conducting follow-up on a potential business deal – should always be reserved for traditional modes of correspondence. Anything less borders on lazy and unprofessional.
* Avoid “are we there yet?” thinking — Establish an agenda when touching base with prospects, and ensure that each subsequent call or meeting provides new information. There should be a definite reason for picking up the phone, and a distinct benefit to the individual on the other end of the call. Any parent can describe the maddening, constant cries of “Are we there yet” from their kids in the back seat. This same irritated feeling occurs with continuous follow-up calls. There is a distinct difference between being attentive and being annoying.
Bryan was remiss with his follow-up practices, and because of that, he lost out on an important deal for his company. Lessons are often learned through unintended or unwanted consequences, and the silver lining is that going forward, Bryan will be sure to devote a great deal of attention to the manner in which he follows up with prospective clients.
Russell Trahan is the President of PR/PR, a public relations agency specializing in positioning clients in front of their target audience. For more information, visit http://www.prpr.net
This story originally appeared in Employee Assistance Report. For more information, check out the “employee assistance professionals” tab at: http://www.impact-publications.com