5 Rules for Following Up without Being Annoying
By Alyssa Gregory, owner, Avertua, LLC.
The importance of following up, touching base, and
otherwise staying on the mind of the client,
shouldn’t be underestimated. I’ve seen it in action.
Diligent follow up has helped me win business (as
told later on by clients), and I have given business
to providers who followed up with me in a consistent
and palatable way.
Following up tells the potential client that you
want the work, you think you’re the best person for
the job, and you’re ready to get started. These are
all powerful factors that can nudge an opportunity
in your favor.
But, the line between an acceptable follow-up
technique and “you are so annoying, please stop
contacting me,” is very thin. If you cross it, you
will likely lose the opportunity and close the door
on any future opportunities that may exist.
How do you tell how much follow up is too much? Here
are a few follow-up rules to keep in mind.
Rule #1: Set a Schedule
You should have a predetermined schedule for
following up with prospects, depending on the
desirability of the work, with the most desirable
clients requiring the bulk of your follow-up time.
Making a follow-up schedule ahead of time serves two
purposes. First, it makes the entire follow-up
process quicker, especially if you’re able to use
partially pre-written or automated messages. And
second, setting a schedule before you’re in a
follow-up situation can reassure you that the
message intervals you’ve decided upon are typical,
and not the overly aggressive reaction of someone
who really wants the work, but hasn’t heard back
Rule #2: Start with the Client’s Communication
There isn’t a defined rule on the best way to follow
up, but it’s a very good idea to follow the lead of
the person you’re following up with. If he or she
prefers email and most of your conversations have
taken place over email, it probably makes sense that
your initial messages will be sent via email.
This doesn’t mean you’re restricted to email-only
communication, though. Sometimes adding a new method
to the mix can initiate a new, (hopefully
Rule #3: Learn to Read Between the Lines
Even the most diligent follow up isn’t always
effective in getting you the answer you want, or any
answer at all, for that matter. You need to be able
to read the situation and understand that what isn’t
said, can be just as important as what the client
For example, repeated lack of response probably
means the client is not interested and it’s not
worth your time to continue following up. And, a
statement like, “We’ll be in touch soon,” may mean
it’s time to back off a bit and slow down your
Rule #4: Make Your Follow-Up Message About the
Your follow-up messages shouldn’t just be repeated
sales pitches. Craft your messages so you refer to
any personal information that was exchanged during
meeting, unique elements of your conversation, or
things you learned about the client’s specific
You can also follow up in a more relaxed way by
sending the client a link to an article relevant to
their situation, or other information that will keep
you on his or her mind without you having to say,
“I’m following up again…”
Rule #5: Don’t Follow Up If You’re Not Genuinely
Because the follow-up process is something that is
generally structured and repeated, it can become a
habit that you tend to do automatically. There may
be nothing worse, though, than following up over the
course of a few weeks or months, being offered the
opportunity, then deciding you don’t want it after
all. Before you even begin your follow-up routine,
make sure it’s something you are sure you want, to
protect everyone’s time.
The trick with following up is trying to figure out
what is most effective in each situation, because it
can be different every time. Ideally, you’ll be able
to develop a schedule and a set of messages that
work well over time, then tweak and customize them
for each individual situation.
---Source: OMC Oct. 1, 2010
newsletter (www.onlinemarketingconnect.com). Alyssa
Gregory is the owner of avertua, LLC, a full-service
virtual assistant firm. Alyssa provides business
tips, advice and news through her Small Business
Idea Generator blog.