“I hate it when people do not follow-up! It is so frustrating!”
I hear that a lot from clients. I experience that it a lot myself. People do not follow-up with me and yes, I do not follow-up with others.
Simply put, if an item, task, or to-do is important to me I am going to own the follow-up. Regardless of the ownership, I am not going to be reactive but proactive. Before I give some suggestions on time managed follow-up it is notable to give some context.
- If you are in any type of a sales role and you are prospecting potential clients, get it in your head that they don’t owe you anything. You have not earned the right to expect a reply. If someone contacts me who I have never met before, pitching me a product or service I don’t need, I feel no obligation to respond.
- Are you interrupting a person you know with your need or want? Regardless of their commitment, the burden is on you to get what you need.
- Have you met your obligation to another and not seen any action? Should your reputation be impacted by their lack of action, follow-up to ensure they acknowledge your commitment has been met.
So, if you have gotten a commitment and now you are chasing to get an answer, take in account these ideas to minimize your frustration.
Create expectations up front.
A customer has obligated to give you a commitment by a certain date, but they have a history of not fulfilling their promise. Tell them your follow-up plan upfront.
“Great, If I do not hear from you by the end of the day on the due date, I will give you a call to check on the status.”
“Thank you. Because I know you are extremely busy, I will call before the due date to make sure everything is on track.”
Also, build in extra lead time to present challenges later.
Set response tasks immediately (not task, but tasks).
A peer has promised to provide you their part of the project information. You are worried because obligations have been missed in the past. Create the necessary reminders that prompt you to help them to be faithful, more than once.
Be humble, patient and kind.
You’ve set the expectations up front and are ready to follow-up multiple times. Wonderful, now check your attitude. Elliott Bell writes in his article, “Pleasantly Persistent: 5 Rules for Effectively Following Up” the following.
1. Be Overly Polite and Humble
2. Persistent Doesn’t Mean Every Day
3. Directly Ask if You Should Stop Reaching Out
4. Stand Out in a Good Way
5. Change it Up
Showing anger or frustration is a recipe for getting ghosted.
From analyzing our own data on internal and external interaction at Kairos Management Solutions, it can consistently take up to 11 times before you will get a response. You may not have that kind of time all the time. However, let that data point guide you in planning enough “buffer time” to allow others to meet their obligations to your timeline.
I still hate it when people do not follow-up. It is frustrating. Nevertheless, I have a process in place that creates an expectation up front, has multiple touch points, and is always delivered with gentleness and respect. I would like that to be the case with me when I fail to follow-up.