Follow Up or Foul Up

Today most people are so busy they shudder at anything new coming across their desks. If they can say no, get back to you later, or send you to someone else, they can get back to whatever they were doing before you “interrupted” them. Here are 10 ways to get results in an overworked and often unconcerned world:

  1. “I’ve got a call in” is never a resolution. When your people tell you that, it means that they think somehow it’s in the other guy’s court, and that you’ll buy that response and take the pressure off them. Remind them that it’s their responsibility to get the job done, no matter what. Encourage them to check back daily until they get an answer.
  2. “Now” and “Later” are the only two answers, not “Yes” and “No.” Ask more questions until you get the “now” that you want. “Yes” doesn’t always mean now, especially in sales. The answer is always “No” when you give up.
  3. “The No Game” is a fun way to turn an otherwise frustrating exercise into a winnable challenge. Keep track of how many “no’s” you get. Ask the question a different way, or another day, or to a new person. We average about 7 “No’s” before getting to “Now.” What if we stopped at 6?
  4. Confirm your verbal agreement by email. Be sure to get specific about permissions, quantities, prices, times and dates. Ask them to make any changes to the memo by 5pm or you will assume they agree.
  5. Copy your confirming memo to the appropriate parties up and down their organization. This will assure you that people critical to your success are in the know and not blindsided.
  6. Do the other guy’s job without putting him off, and thank him for it. You can even recommend him to his boss. This requires a diplomatic attitude under the banner of being helpful and working as a team.
  7. Put a deadline on it. Let people know exactly when you want it, such as, “Can you do this by 5PM today?” If not, you might say, “I’ll check back by 10AM tomorrow.”
  8. Put a buck on it. Figure out how your request is saving them money or will cost them money if they delay. Create a sense of urgency with a financial consideration.
  9. Show up in person when your telephone and email efforts are being frustrated. A real human being always gets more attention than the printed or spoken word. When you are physically there it says you care and they are worth it.
  10. Thank you’s all the way around grease the skids for next time and show them you appreciate their consideration. Written post cards are the very best way because they are read not just by the person who helped you, but by everyone that sees it, plus they’re around for a while.

Remember, when you are diligent and persistent, you will prevail. It takes more time and effort on your part, but your results will be worth it. It’s your choice, follow-up or foul up.


About Michael Houlihan & Bonnie Harvey

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