You know when you hear a phrase for the first time that almost slaps you in the face? Something so simple, yet so powerful and puts everything into perspective for you.
This happened to me very early in my first sales role when I was talking sales strategy with a Senior Sales Rep over lunch. He told me, “The Fortune is in the Follow Up.” He went on to explain just how bad most sales reps are at following up with their clients after a phone call, in-person meeting, or just general turnaround time in responding to requested information. He challenged me to overcome the socially accepted excuse many salespeople use of being “busy” and to make a point of following up with my clients to gain a competitive advantage over the competition.
At Butler Street, we refer to the 100+ emails, conference calls, and meetings that salespeople encounter everyday as The Whirlwind. Not only does The Whirlwind make it difficult to achieve break-through performance, but it also blocks individuals’ ability to execute on strategic initiatives – like proper follow up with their prospective and current clients.
After lunch with my mentor that day, I made a personal commitment to myself to ‘win my play’ by following up after each encounter with clients. Some best practices that I have in place today are as follows:
Butler Street’s 16-week 12 touch plan for targeting and following up with prospective clients
Email a meeting recap to clients within the same day following a meeting
Respond to all emails within 24 hours – unless my Out of Office states otherwise
Send meeting invitations immediately upon setting the meeting
This follow-up formula is not groundbreaking and seems like basic mechanics to me, but it is estimated that 80% of potential opportunities are lost without a trace simply due to a lack of follow-up (Marketingdonut).
Not effectively communicating with customers is damaging to one’s business, but when salespeople with this bad habit move into leadership roles, the problem is amplified and affects more than just clients, it affects the team.
In speaking with Executives today, it is clear that lacking a strong culture of accountability and process make coaching moments optional and leaders spend their day in the Whirlwind.
Just as the “fortune is in the follow up” regarding managing client relationships – the same holds true when it comes to employee relationships. Managers help their team perform and progress toward their goals by:
Scheduling consistent one on ones and team meetings
Performing monthly/quarterly performance reviews
Providing frequent on-the-spot coaching moments
In our Leadership Training, we instruct leaders to treat their one-on-ones with direct reports like a client meeting. Be prepared with an agenda, be on-time and consistent, and follow up with action items. As a leader, time with your employee is your opportunity to demonstrate you are committed to their development and want to help them achieve their goals with the company and in their personal life.
With the tight labor market and rate in which employees are switching jobs today, it is imperative that leaders are intentional with the time they spend with their direct reports. Taking advantage of coaching opportunities and holding their team accountable through proper follow up demonstrates a great deal of respect and dedication to the greater good of the team.
At Butler Street, we help salespeople and leaders of all skill levels and tenure put the necessary habits in place to be more effective at their job. Please contact us to learn how we can help you develop your talent.