This past month we had someone come by the house to quote a built-in bookshelf. He told me that he’d get a quote to me that evening. A few days later another message telling me that he’d been very busy and would get the quote later that day. Haven’t heard from him. Someone else is building the bookshelf.
Why do I tell you this story? Because of the importance of follow-up. I want that bookshelf, I would have given that guy money if he’d have gotten back to me. But he didn’t follow up. Instead he wasted his time coming to my house and lost the job because lack of follow-through.
I don’t want you to be like this guy. Never assume that the client will contact you if they’re interested. Always follow-up.
Tell Client You’ll Follow-up
Setting expectations is one of the best ways to improve client and project relations. (Read Why Projects Fail) You can set a client’s expectations by letting them know that you’ll follow-up and (gasp!) actually following-up.
I see this mainly with women, we don’t want to be a bother and we seem to be especially afraid of possible rejection. Communication is key for smooth projects and if you’re scared/intimidated/concerned you can’t do your job and keep the client’s on track.
You want to let them know why you’re following up and what happens if you don’t hear from them by a date.
Real Life Example
Lynne inspired this article, because she asked:
“After working with a client and finishing the living room they say, ‘once the holidays are over we would like to start the office.’ How best do I circle back and keep that job going? Life happens and people get busy so I never know how to reach out and start the communication again.”
If this was my client, when they told me that they wanted to wait, I would have said, I’ll follow-up with you again on January 7th, does that work for you?
And on January 7th I’d call or email (maybe both). I would communicate that I had currently had set aside time to work on their office, but if I didn’t hear from them by Friday that that time could be reallocated to other projects. If they needed more time, not a problem, when should you follow-up again? A few weeks, great, when you’re ready we can start up again depending on my current schedule.
The Follow-up Formula
The follow-up formula is to:
set their expectations by letting them know when you’ll follow-up
In your follow-up give them a deadline for responding & provide motivation to reply
Repeat as necessary
More follow-up tips:
Always ask when you should follow-up. If you don’t get an answer just tell the client when to expect your follow-up.
You can also ask: Would you like me to send you a reminder?
Always follow-up when you said you will.
Don’t wait too long. The longer it’s been the harder it is to reconnect.
Use your best judgement, if you haven’t heard anything after three contact attempts, move on.
But if you haven’t followed-up at least twice, it’s probably not enough.
Give your client reassurance that they don’t need to proceed straightaway and let them know the next steps if they would like to wait - again, keep letting clients know what to expect. Many times clients aren’t ready, but if you keep in contact they will be eventually.
If clients reject you don’t take it personally!
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