A prospect says she’s impressed with your proposals, but you don’t hear back for more than a week. You want to follow up, but don’t want to seem like a pest.
Your goal is to be top of mind when she chooses her advisor. Some make decisions based on whom they spoke with last. Think about surface mail and email you receive daily: chances are you can identify the home furnishing brands, cookware companies, and credit card providers that are constantly in your mailbox and inbox. They’re staying top of mind.
It may be annoying, but these companies do it because it works.
The best model for aggressive follow-ups is the legendary detective Columbo, a ’60s and ’70s TV character played by Peter Falk. He identified the murderer quickly but never let on he was suspicious. Relentless follow-ups were his trademark, always asking his suspect “just one more routine question.” He never failed.
You aren’t behaving badly by following up. You think you can help your prospect because you believe in your solution. She has a problem, like funding the needs of aging parents. The issue isn’t going away.
One of Columbo’s signature strategies was to justify another follow up by claiming he had new information on the case: “We just learned…” and “I thought you would want to know…” were common ways he softened the irritation he caused by showing up at a suspect’s mansion for a third or fourth time in a single day.
You get new information that reinforces your recommendations. Use it to break the ice when you follow up.
Following up is often done like clockwork thanks to client contact systems. Use major dates instead. “Easter’s getting close. Are your children coming home from university? I know they’re the most important part of your life.”
Again, avoid the scheduled follow-up. “I heard about the brushfires around Los Angeles. Your parents live there—are they okay? I know looking after them is your highest priority.”
An advisor in Indiana I know would carefully position upcoming presentations of his recommendations. “We aren’t making any investment decisions until we review the plan. I’d like you to decide at that time whether or not to proceed with my recommendations.”
You’re following up because you believe you’ve given the best possible recommendations. You’re priced fairly and have explained costs. You believe she’ll be better off if she takes your suggestions.
In my business, when I call I realize people are doing other things. I’m an interruption. I’ll start a conversation with, “I hope you consider persistence a virtue.” Often it gets a laugh.
It’s important to play fair. I’ll say, “I realize you’re probably in the middle of something. Can we schedule a few minutes to talk about (XYZ)?” This gives her the ability to escape politely and a chance to explain why she isn’t interested. If she suggests a time to call, she’s showing interest in proceeding further.