The importance of following up, checking in, and chasing down the client should not be underestimated. Many people, particularly those in public relations, have witnessed it in action, whether it's sending a large number of pitches and follow-up emails or making phone calls. Consistent follow-up has helped me win business, get a newspaper story published, and pitch multiple ideas to clients and the media.
Strong and active follow-up sends the message to the potential client that you want to work with them, that you are the right person for the job, and that you are ready to start on the first call. However, whether you are looking for a job, a salesperson, a publicist, or a businessman, it may be a test to be persistent without being perceived as annoying when doing strong follow-ups.
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While each situation is unique, here are seven ways to follow up without being seen as annoying:
1. Being persistent does not imply doing so on a daily basis
Doing follow-up on a daily basis does not demonstrate your courage or passion; respect a person's time. When pursuing or following up, it is common practice to wait at least one week before sending a reminder. Doing follow-up on a daily basis can be irritating. Begin by sending an email or making a phone call once a week, then every couple of weeks.
2. Decide on a mode of communication
There are no rules or guidelines for the best way to follow up; however, it is always better to follow the indication of the person you are contacting. If they prefer email and you have previously communicated via email, it is preferable to follow-up via email.
3. Experiment with various channels
Choosing a communication medium does not imply that you should only use one method of communication. Other modes of communication can sometimes prompt a quick response. If you are not receiving a response to your emails or phone calls, use social media such as Twitter, Facebook, or a message on Linked-In.
4. Do not act as if you are owed anything
When you do not receive a response after a thorough follow-up, it is easy to become disheartened and irritable. Nobody is obligated to respond to your request, no matter how many times you've followed up or how flawless your proposal or pitch is for that client. Each follow-up call, email, or message should be as respectful, polite, and humble as the first.
5. Your goal is to provide an answer
Set no quotas or use signs to classify responses, whether your offer is rejected or receives a non-actionable response, such as “I'll get back to you.”
Some people may find it difficult to say no, so they will try to postpone the inevitable. Reduce that proclivity by giving the person a reason to respond, such as by offering a limited-time price reduction. Be proactive and set up a time to contact the person when they say they will.
6. Make a strategy
You can't just keep calling a prospect after they've said no. Create an active strategy for your offer or proposal. Find out who else can be contacted and what other products can be pitched to different clients. A negative response should prompt you to take the next step in your planned path.
7. Express gratitude
Whatever response you receive from the client or contact person, remember to thank him for taking the time to read your proposal or speak with you on the phone. He took the time and care to listen to you, which is difficult for any professional these days. He may be able to assist you by providing information that will improve your offer or proposal, or by providing a new contact or ideas on how to sell it elsewhere. Always thank them for taking the time to consider your offer; they will remember how polite you were–and may take your proposal into consideration in the future.
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