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Overcome Your Fear of Making the Follow-Up Call
Will Kintish
Manchester, England

As speakers, we are the envy of thousands. You may have heard some of the following comments:

"Oh, you're so brave to get up there and speak."

"I'd rather die than make a presentation."

"It must be great to have all that self-confidence."

But just how confident are we when we have to actually get the business. Let's explore the world of the telephone. Is it your friend or enemy?

The First Call
You have met Priscilla, a client prospect at a networking event, and you have agreed to call her the following Wednesday afternoon to find out more about her issue and how you may be able to help. The following Wednesday afternoon comes, you look on your to-do list and, dare I suggest it, you are not quite as enthusiastic about making the call as you were at the networking event three or four days previously?

When you hesitate making that first follow-up call consider:

* Priscilla is expecting your call.
* Priscilla has agreed to take your call.
* You actually met her, eyeball to eyeball at the networking event.
* You were given the distinct impression that she does have an interest in your services.
* You believe (I hope) that what you are offering will substantially benefit her business.
* You can clearly demonstrate those benefits quickly and easily.
* Does your service at least match the best there is in the marketplace?
* How are you able to support your claims? Have you got proof of results and/or testimonials?
* You are continuing the conversation you were having last week.
* Are you going to let all the time you spent at the event go to waste?
* How much money will you make out of turning Priscilla the prospect into Priscilla the purchaser? Could there be an ongoing relationship? If so, start to value the lifetime income of this follow-up call.
* When you get the business and you have deducted the tax (yes, sorry, don't forget you have to give part of your fee to the government), what can you do with the balance? New car? House extension? Extra holiday? Or just boring things like reducing your overdraft, reinvesting in your business, take on a new member of staff, etc.

* What's the worst that is going to happen? The very worst is she doesn't want your service or product, and actually says she has changed her mind. Calamity! A crisis: you have been rejected. Help! The end of the world is nigh!!

What do you want from this call?
Ideally you want to set up a meeting with Priscilla who, of course, might not always be the person you really need to meet after the event. But at this juncture she is the best bet to get you into this prospect company.

What are you going to say?

* Remind Priscilla where you met.
* Recall some of the small talk topics she told you at the event.
* If you can't get in to see her because she is not ready, suggest that you spend three or four minutes on the phone.
* Reiterate what business issues she told you she had and try to find out what impact it would have on her business if you were able to help her with those issues.
* Ask more searching (but gently probing) questions and start to make proposals.

What are the various scenarios that could happen in this conversation?

1. "Lovely to hear from you again. Of course I would like to get together, let's get our calendars out."

2. "It's not actually me you need. Percy deals with that sort of thing. I have mentioned it to him and he would like to hear from you. He is not in at the moment but call him tomorrow, mention my name as part of your introduction."

3. "Can you send me some information?" (At this point ensure in your letter that you refer primarily to Priscilla's issues and how you believe you can help. Don't talk about yourself, how big your company is or how brilliant you are. She is not interested. All she wants to know is what's in it for her? Ask permission to call her in two weeks to see what she thinks about the information you are sending.

4. "On reflection, I don't think what you have to offer is for us at the moment."

A three- to five-minute call is all that's needed, and you know where you stand.

The Second Call (Because You Sent Information)
What do you want from this call? The same thing, a meeting or at least a reaction to the information you sent through some two weeks previously. Sorry but now Priscilla isn't so easily accessible. Her gatekeeper, Gaynor, is in the way. You need to treat Gaynor with as much respect, if not more, than Priscilla. Do remember that gatekeepers, whilst keeping the gate closed can just as easily open the gate for you. Treat her with respect, no shmooze, and the chances are you will get her at least to say she will ask Priscilla to call you.

She doesn't.

More rejection, more failure, more lack of success, wasting time, etc.
No! The only failure here is if you don't make the follow-up call.

Reasons She Doesn't Return Your Call
You are beginning to feel rejected now, aren't you? No, it's not you who is being rejected, it's the service or product you have at that moment in the life cycle of Priscilla's business, which has been rejected.

Why? Who knows? Maybe:

* After she met you she didn't really want to buy at all.
* When she got back to work she spoke to a colleague who had talked her out of taking it further.
* She just lost a big order, which she had been expecting.
* She just incurred an enormous bad debt, which she hadn't been expecting.
* Her spouse or social partner walked out on her that morning.
* She couldn't be bothered.
* At the time you met, she thought it was a need-to-have service or product. In the cold light of day it turned into a would-be-nice-to-have.
* She made some enquiries about you, and for whatever reason, decided you and/or your business weren't the right people to deal with. OK, a bit of personal rejection here maybe. But hey, so what, let's look for the next new contact.
* She hasn't dismissed it out of hand and if she knows you're persistent she will use you to remind her you're still about.

If you don't make the call, she'll most likely forget about you, and your literature moves down the pending tray until the quarterly clear out -- and then the trash can!

The Third, Fourth and Fifth Calls
If you had no response, keep thinking maybe, but just not at the moment. She can't make up her mind yet, so don't give up.

Let's assume you haven't been able to get through to Priscilla, but wow, you are very close to Gaynor. You know she has just split up with that rat Ronnie who has been cheating on her; she is going off on a wild week away with her mates to get over him and she has got her house on the market. In fact, you are even interested in buying it. She is also feeling guilty because Priscilla hasn't returned any of your calls.

"I promise you I do keep putting a note on her desk. I really am sorry!"

Make It Easy -- Offer the Easy Way Out
"Gaynor, please ask Priscilla to tell you if there is no interest just give me a call and tell me. That way I am not wasting her time, my time and most of all your time." Now, what's Gaynor thinking? She may of course think "Ah that would be a shame. I'm not going to be having a nice chat with you any more!" More likely she is going to say to Priscilla, "Look he has offered to go away. What do you want me to tell him?" Gaynor call back says, "After long deliberations Priscilla has decided we are not able to use your services." Fine. You have done everything you can. You have been persistent, but no one can possibly accuse you of being a pest.

Don't worry, there is always another day. Me? I only hear "not yet" and make a note to call Priscilla and Gaynor again in six months. The trouble is by then it's Gaye; ah well such is life! Off you go again if the rewards are big enough.

The Bottom Line
The bottom line is you have nothing to lose and everything to gain. May I suggest that you cut and paste the following and stick it near your phone?

This Follow-Up Call Is Being Made For Five Very Important Reasons:
1. I'm going to make a lot of money from it, and I can spend it on _______________.

2. We got on well when we met and the person seemed to like me.

3. There is definite interest in and the need for what I have to offer.

4. I genuinely believe it will help my prospect make more money by using my services.

5. I would be committing the networking crime of not following-up and I'm a ruddy fool if I don't.

Will Kintish presents, trains and writes on all aspects of "How To Become A More Confident and a More Effective Networker." He is based in Manchester, England and can be contacted on (00) (44) (161) 773-3727 or via

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