It was 4:00pm on a Friday, and I was done. A month had passed since this prospect had expressed interest, and since then, I had emailed this prospect, sent LinkedIn Messages, called them, and texted them. Feeling like I had done more than my fair share of due diligence with follow up, I was about to send that final email saying something like, “Well, I guess you don’t want to work with me.”
(Side note: Don’t send that kind of email. Ever.)
I NEEDED this contract. It would be my largest client to date, and I had worked so hard to give that little extra every single step of the way. I thought I had done everything right… so why hadn’t the prospect converted yet?
Tired of beating my head against the wall, I decided that the contract was not worth my time. I was not going to waste any more energy on them. My repeated messages and my frustration with their lack of response were plenty of proof I was coming from a place of need and desperation rather than one of positivity and permission; it was time to cut the cord and walk away. As I prepared to write up the kind of prospect break-up email no one should ever send, I was fortunately disrupted by my daughter asking me to come and play. Leaving my funk and my computer behind, I chose to go play with her and enjoy my weekend.
5 months later, I was speaking at a conference in Arizona. On my drive back to the hotel, I saw one of my prospect’s signs, so I took a photo of it, attached it to an email, and sent it with a simple note that said, “I was in Arizona and saw this. Made me smile. Congrats on all the growth.”
By the time I got back to my hotel and cleaned up from the conference, I received this email in my inbox:
“Hey Bunny! So great to hear from you, and congratulations to you as well! I have been stalking you on LinkedIn since our last conversation. I have been working really hard implementing all the ideas you shared with me when we spoke, and they are really working well. A little too well actually, and I need to sit back down with you and figure out how we can move forward with a contract so you can help me identify the next steps. Let me know if you have time when you get back from Arizona, and I will clear my calendar for some time with you!”
Wow, all that from a prospect I almost broke up with in a moment of frustration.
Here are the three lessons that I learned from this experience.
1. Follow up again. And again. And again.
Whether you’re cultivating new prospects or current clients, establish and execute a plan for how you will continuously communicate to ensure you stay in touch. Whether you text, call, message on social media, or have an email strategy, make sure that you are staying in front of those that you want to connect with. Even when you think a prospect is dead in the water, they may still be watching you. You never know when that next touch will push them over into a paid client.
2. Act out of a positive place.
I could have reacted to my emotions that Friday afternoon, sent out the break-up email, and completely busted up my chances of ever closing the biggest contract my business has seen thus far. I let desperation and reactivity push me into a place that almost damaged my business reputation. Sending that email would have cost me that client, but it also would have cost me the referrals that this client ended up sending me. Be positive, not reactive. And if you need to, step away from the computer to prevent taking action you’ll later regret.
3. Be authentic.
Most follow-up prospecting systems are stupid. That’s right – I said it. They SUCK. Do not go out of your way to put some crazy follow up process in place in your business if it is not an accurate reflection of your style and what the prospect can expect from you when you work together. My simple photo and heartfelt words caught the attention of my prospect and demonstrated my attention to detail, reminding them of our earlier interactions and giving them a taste of what it is like to work together. If you aren’t authentic to your brand and your business, you are setting yourself up for failure, so keep it simple and heartfelt.
BONUS: If you still do not think follow up is that important, check out what LinkedIn was suggesting to me today!