Maybe the Fortune Isn’t in the Follow-up After All
The common scenario goes something like this:
You meet with prospective clients.
You seem to really hit it off.
You email them a thank you after the meeting and expect to hear back pretty immediately.
But you don’t hear back from them immediately.
After 24 hours pass you’re scratching your head wondering if maybe they didn’t feel the same warm fuzzies – or maybe they didn’t get your email – or maybe they just got busy and forgot – so you email again and restate how much you enjoyed meeting with them and how you’d love to work with them on their wedding.
You hear nothing for two more days and wonder if you should reach out yet again.
So you do. Because you were really hoping for that booking.
Four days have passed since your consultation with them and you’ve sent 3 emails and STILL have not heard back. So rude. They could at least respond.
So you make the decision to call them. No answer (typical), voicemail left.
You most likely never hear from them again OR you eventually receive an email from them to let you know they’ve gone with another wedding planner.
I have notice a few members of my REFINE Group on Facebook pose this question recently: How many times do we follow up with prospective clients? Here is the one reality and one strategy that transformed me from an avid follow-upper to a confident girl boss after experiencing the above scenario one too many times during the early years of business.
REALITY// Times are a’changing
The way our parents did (and still do) business largely revolved around the idea and action of persistence. Growing up with parents born in the Baby Boomer generation, it was not uncommon to hear phrases like the squeaky wheel gets the oil tossed around my house. Their generation was all about this idea of being squeaky. And in a pre-internet-dominated world, it worked.
I remember my first real job was at the ripe old age of 15 as a grocery bagger at Big John’s Food King. When I went in to grab an application for this job I ran into the store manager and excitedly asked him if they had a grocery bagger position available. He kindly informed my gangly self that they weren’t hiring but to check back in a month or two. When I got home and relayed the story to my Dad he scoffed and advised that I fill out the application, hand deliver it to the manager that same day, and go back there every day until they gave me a job. A week later I was baggin’ groceries at Food King. While that strategy may have worked in the 1990’s, and may even work now if your target clients or prospective employers are Boomers, it certainly doesn’t work on the largest generation currently inhabiting the planet: The Millennial.
As a Millennial myself I cannot deeply convey and passionately enough express how annoyed I become when anyone in the professional world constantly “follows up” with me regarding pretty much anything. Considering that 99% of my clients are Millennials as well, I can safely assume they share my opinion on this. To receive that follow-up email or call or text over and over again implies that I am not intelligent enough to make my own buying decisions. Being bombarded by follow-ups also implies that you are desperate for work which makes me believe you aren’t very good at what you do. Although neither of these assumptions may be true this is simply how my Millennial brain is wired.
STRATEGY// Follow up ONCE with confidence
Remember that book that was later made into a movie He’s Just Not That Into You? I’ve always approached follow-up’s with the same basic belief outlined in that book: If they’re into you, you’ll know. If you have done your branding work well, if your personality is showcased consistently and authentically via your website, blog, and social media platforms, if you believe in the value of the services you offer then selling yourself during consults and following-up with prospective clients more than one time should never happen.
After that initial consultation, send your customary thank you email and let your prospects know that if they have any questions or if they would like to move forward to contact you. This is a great time to also send the invoice and eContract with the explanation that you’ll reserve their date for one week. If you hear nothing from them after the week has passed, I suggest sending only ONE follow-up email where you thank them again, wishing them all the best on their wedding.
BOTTOM LINE// If they really want to work with you, they’ll let you know.
If they’re busy shopping around for other wedding planners or interested in haggling over your prices then they probably aren’t the right clients for you anyway. Remember that while you want your calendar full of wonderful weddings booked by wonderful clients you shouldn’t have to chase the business down. You are wonderful and brilliant and capable and worth it. If they don’t see that, let them move on and focus your energy on those that do.