Follow-up is critical to your reputation and to building and maintaining relationships with your clients, customers and colleagues. “But I’m so busy” you groan “I don’t have time to do all that follow up.” Well I’m afraid this is one of those “You can’t afford not to” situations. Let’s see what follow up means and then look at some MBTI preference specific tips to make it easier.

Things to consider about follow-up

  1. Follow-up is required for every phase of engagement so it is important to identify the cycle of each client/customer interaction; for example, the initial discovery appointment, contracting, delivery, end of delivery review. Your process will be different but there will be some variation on a beginning, a middle and an end. It is helpful to know where you are in the cycle and what is required at each stage.
  2. To determine what is required at each stage, stand in your client/customers shoes.  Try to understand what they might be needing right now so that you can follow-up. What questions do people typically have at this stage and have you answered them? If either you or the client have to gather more information or consult with others before a decision can be made have you created a time frame? Here is an important place to follow up no matter who has the ball. Make the call either way to keep the ball in play.
  3. Think “be of service.” Just because you haven’t heard back from someone doesn’t mean they have forgotten you. They too may be busy. Following up with an offer to help to answer any questions or address any concerns may bring you back to top of mind.
  4. Understand what you are agreeing to. People often say YES before they consider the ramifications of that commitment. It is perfectly fine to say that you would like to think about it or a day or two. Then it is important to get back with a ‘yes’ a ‘no’ or a counter offer. On this same note be aware of any implied agreements or expectations and be mindful if you agree to them or not. You may wish to surface them for a conversation.
  5. If you do agree to something, have a mechanism to make note of it and put a specific date on it so that you can monitor that you completed the item.
  6. If someone else agrees to do something, make a note of that too and follow up after a grace period so that they don’t feel that they are being hounded. The idea is to be helpful.
  7. If you find that you don’t have the resources or time to honour an agreement, say so in time for the person to make other arrangements. If you can offer them another solution even better even if it is your competition. The client or customer will appreciate your honesty and your reputation will remain intact.

Making follow-up easy (with a nod to your MBTI preferences)

  1. Automate or systematize this process if what you are offering allows for that. Personally I would need to hire someone to design this process for me as my ENFP preferences are better suited to other tasks.
  2. Identify your preferred way of communicating – email was made for Introverts. If that is how you like to get things done, let your clients know. Make it easy for both of you by declaring something like… “email requests are returned withing  X amount of time”. Then be demanding of yourself that you do just that.
  3. Extraverts may wish to have a follow-up phone call. That way, you can get a quick grasp of the whole issue and hear if there are any unspoken concerns. It may work for you to have a specific time of day for making and taking calls, and let people know that you are available for phone calls between 8am and 10am for example. Then it goes without saying – be there.
  4. Consider whether some aspects of follow-up can be delegated to an assistant who can troubleshoot and screen what things need to be handled by you. Someone with a preference for Intuition can train an assistant to answer FAQ freeing them from repetitive detailed responses.
  5. For Perceivers – Understand what the person is asking if they make a request and answer “that” question only. No need to expand to other areas and open up something for no reason.
  6. For those with a Thinking preference- Most buying decisions are made with an underlying values based bias which is backed up with cool rational analysis. In other words, if you like it you’ll buy it (or hire a person etc.).  So please don’t underestimate the Feeling aspect of decision making. Some of your follow up may be in preventing buyers remorse or dealing with people’s values based objections or their feelings. Follow-up may be simply listening to their concerns – without the need to “fix’, provide arguments or question them.
  7. Those with a preference with Judging can be of tremendous value to Perceivers in keeping a project moving forward in a timely manner. If you have just rolled your eyes at the though of yet again playing this role for people who should have it together, consider the possible advantage that this gives you. Then there is the huge ‘value add’ you give your clients if you can follow -up with kindness. Think of it this way… “Those who have the capability have the opportunity (responsibility) to use it.”
  8. For those with a Sensing preference, be aware of the exactly how much detail the client wants in order to be satisfied. They may want to leave all of the technical details to you and just need a yes or no answer. This also goes to the amount of follow up – some clients may not need to be contacted as often as others depending on their experience and need for information.
  9. For those with a Feeling preference – my suggestion in an ideal world would be to work in a business you believe in working for clients whose values are in alignment with yours. In the real world, step into the clients shoes and deliver according to their requirements. If what they want does not cross an ethical boundary, tailor your follow up to their needs and preferences not yours.
  10. In a nutshell, think of follow-up as part of building your business not as a nuisance and see if that makes if more palatable. It is all about maintaining trust and developing strong relationships. Your reputation is worth gold.

Are you a Follow-up ninja? What are your secrets?

Category: Best practices
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One Response to “Top 7 Considerations to be a “Follow-Up” Ninja Plus”

Great article, thanks Sandy! I’ll keep these in mind next time I’m answering a question — keep it simple, on the subject.