Jacky Peile

How long do you wait to make a follow up call?

I met with a business owner yesterday and presented my business proposal to them. Like most successful business owners he was hard to read.

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3 Answers

Steve Osborne

Steve Osborne , director at Smarthinking

Many of the small business owners I work with, regularly submit proposals as a culmination of a new business pitch.

One of the hardest things for them to get accustomed to, is the fact that their proposal is way, waaaay down the list of priorities for the client.

We would all love them to write a cheque on the spot, but the reality is much different.

Firstly, your proposal is probably one of several they've received for the same project, whether or not they said you were the only one pitching. In the best case scenario, they are going to need some time to reflect.

Secondly, no matter how important you consider your services to be to the prospect, you cannot live their lives for them. Or decide which business decision they need to make first. The prospect's priorities and timetable are counter to yours.

If she decides it's more important to take a week's holiday before deciding whether her bookkeeping and accounts system needs an overhaul, you have to wear it. Choosing a beach resort is far more pressing than choosing a web development partner.

For me, I tell the prospect when I will call back. I suggest at the exact same time, one week to the day in future. This degree of precision and attention to detail might seem petty at first glance, but the impression it gives is one of serious intent. If the time and day are not suitable, I ask for a better one, and make 100% sure I stick to it. To the second.

If the prospect's reaction is to "blow off" a timed response, one of two things is happening. Either, you didn't read the wants and needs correctly to begin with, or the prospect has already made his decision.

And it's not you.

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Rebecca Carroll-Bell

Well said Steve, that's some great advice.

Assuming that Jacky hasn't set a time and date for a follow up call, I think that 1 - 2 weeks is a good rule of thumb.

Remember that many states have school holidays at the moment, and even if the prospect is not the parent of school aged children, others in the business may be, and resources may be stretched just now.

Don't be disheartened. I delivered training to an organisation earlier this year that was a whole year in the making. From our initial introduction (referral) and meeting to actually delivering the training took about 10 - 11 months. Every month or 2 I would follow up with a "hi how's it going" or I saw this article and thought you'd be interested" or "here's a copy of my latest free resource you might find useful". This about ho you can be helpful and friendly to your prospective client, serve their needs.

Let us know how you go.

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Steven Freeman

In this busy world, at least 1-2 weeks would be preferably unless the prospect deemed their requirements and decision process to be urgent. Outside that most sit on proposals for ages, and can be pushed over the edge if you follow up too early and frequently.

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