You’ve had a first meeting with your dream client. Now you believe that you need to follow up. This means that one or more of these things is true:
One: You didn’t not gain a commitment at the close of the meeting.
It is your responsibility in a sales call to set the agenda, ask your client if they need add to your agenda or need something else from you, and to tell them what you believe will follow your meeting, should there be reason to continue some idea or potential opportunity.
It is also your responsibility to control the process. You know better than your prospect what they need to to do next, as you sell what you sell to many companies and have greater experience. You are supposed to be leading them down this path. In execution, you have to secure the next meeting at the end of each meeting.
The reason you need to follow up is because you didn’t gain the next commitment when you had the chance—and the audience—to do so. Now you are chasing, and as my good friend Jeb Blount says, “Things that get chased tend to run.”
Two: You accepted a non-commitment or a soft commitment believing it was a next step.
You may have believed that you secured a commitment when you really secured something less. When your prospective client asks you to call them back in two weeks, you have made a commitment. Your client, however, has not made a commitment. By asking you to follow up with them, they have avoided making any commitment at all, including taking your call, answering your email, or scheduling another meeting. Is it a wonder you have to chase?
A soft commitment is often no better. Your client tells you that they will call you in two weeks, after they meet with their teams. Even when their intentions are good, the reality is that they are busy, and unless you are a priority, you are not likely to command their attention or their time. The soft commitment that was a call in two weeks doesn’t happen. It’s a soft commitment because it isn’t on your prospect’s calendar, your calendar, or their task list.
You accepted a soft commitment instead of something more concrete, more certain, like an appointment.
The reason that you need to follow up is because you are not gaining the commitments you need to help your prospect do the things they need to do to explore—and with your help—make the changes that lead to better future results.
One of the best indicators as to the likelihood of winning a deal is the fact that you don’t have to follow up. My best advice here can be found in The Lost Art of Closing.
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