Successful follow up relies more on character than it does on skill.
Don’t Try to Do Too Much. Follow up by its very nature is time consuming. Adjust your commitments accordingly.
If You Can’t Follow Up Then Don’t Do It. Follow up is not a luxury. It is essential. If you don’t have the time to follow up then don’t begin in the first place.
Followers Respect What Leaders Inspect. As a leader I spent a lot of time with subordinates “touching base,” eliciting status reports, clearing obstacles, addressing miscommunication, and generally expediting projects. All of these activities fall under the heading of “follow up,” and there is no better way for a leader to communicate his priorities than through following up.
Follow Up Is a People Skill.One man’s follow up can easily become another’s “nagging” or worse. Successful follow up requires a sense of timing and tact. As a salesman, I worked extremely hard to have a legitimate and valuable reason for calling a client. I rarely if ever called just to remind him of my own selfish priorities. Even if it was just through providing industry gossip or a good joke, I strove to follow up through service.
Any Decision is Better than No Decision. People, especially sales reps, are often reluctant to follow up because they don’t want bad news. But while NO is far less preferable than YES at least you can now direct your valuable energy somewhere else.
Make Following Up A Priority. To be good at follow up you must, paradoxically, follow up on your commitment to follow up. We all know we should follow up, but then we get distracted and don’t follow up. Follow up must become habitual and second nature. To this day the first thing I do each morning is go over my list of outstanding projects looking for those in need of follow up.
Be Willing to Do the Work. The most important key to successful follow up is being willing to do the work yourself. Early in my career in sales, for example, I would often wait while clients prepared a Request for Proposal (RFP). I soon learned that the best sales reps didn’t wait on RFPs. Instead they often helped their client with the tedious task of writing an RFP. This proactive approach helped a busy executive be more productive, got the RFP out faster, and advantageously positioned the sales rep for the eventual sale.