The quote “80 percent of life is showing up” is widely attributed to Woody Allen, although the authority of the internet, Wikipedia, doesn’t confirm it – personally I think its true. But in business, showing up 100% of the time is table stakes. What I do see too much of though is a lack of follow up.
If I had a nickel for every time I’ve not gotten as much as a acknowledgement email from someone – even from an INTERNAL person needing a response for an urgent matter, i’d be retired in Hawaii living in a huge mansion.
You know what I’m talking about – you have a urgent request from a customer for a quote on a project, so you jump on their request and fire off emails and leave phone messages for those people internally who can provide you with information in order to complete the proposal. You wait 24 hours. Nothing. You wait 36 hours. Still nothing. You send a follow up email. Twelve hours later, you get a begrudging response from someone apologizing for not being able to respond in time because they were too busy. In the meantime, the rapid response time you promised the client is gone.
I understand not responding to cold emails from salespeople selling stuff you don’t want or need. But I can never understand not responding to a prospect request, a customer request or an internal request with, at the very least, an acknowledgment that you have received the request and with some kind of estimate on when you can send a response.
I’ve been at places where this was normal: reasonable client and prospect requests were simply ignored, or responded to in such a slack manner that no wonder the prospect found someone else. There was no urgency.
If you ask me – you should always, always, always follow up on each and every email, even if its a quick acknowledgement that you received the email and are working on whatever needs to be worked on. Then it’s your responsibility to keep track of everything that you need to do in order to provide the service that you promised (or at least your website and marketing materials did). There are plenty of tools which will help you track the request and remind you when you need to do something. There’s always pen and paper.
Something falling through the cracks is no excuse anymore. You can no longer afford to lose or forget a request.
As a professional, follow up is 100%. Following up, 100% of the time, is the very least you can do. There are so many others out there who don’t, simply following up 100% of the time on 100% of your prospects, you will succeed. It’s that simple.