5 Follow Up F-Ups to Avoid
Many people will tell you things like “Follow up or fail” or “the fortune is in the follow up.” What most people won’t discuss is how poor follow up techniques can lead to someone never wanting to contact you again. The past few weeks ended up being very busy for me and as a result of that, my email got a bit backed up. This led to certain people following up with me. Some did it well, while others did not. After looking at the follow ups I have received, I came up with five things that you should avoid when following up with someone who you’d like to have a chance to talk to. So, without further ado, here are five follow up f-ups to avoid:
- The “are we there yet?” – If you emailed me yesterday and its 10am the following morning, chances are I haven’t seen your email yet. Especially if you’re number 51 in my inbox. It’s probably a safe bet that it’s too early to send me a follow up. I think that a week is reasonable for someone to send a follow up. Anything less than a week feels like you’re in the back of the car asking me if we’re there yet. Now there are some instances that are time sensitive. If you emailed me about something last minute and you follow up sooner than a week, I’ll probably be more forgiving, but following up really quickly just makes me super frustrated and much less likely to respond.
- The “just making sure you got my message” - If you’ve ever seen this scene from the movie Swingers, you know what I am talking about. One of the worst ways to follow up with someone is to ask them if they have gotten your message. If you’re using Sidekick or Streak, you already know if I opened it, and if you don’t know I opened it, why assume it got lost? You do not want to appear desperate if you are interested in having someone respond to your email. If you want me to get back to you, by all means follow up, but don’t assume I lost your email. It makes me look like I don’t have good email filters and I do.
- The “Guilt Trip” – We’ve all been on the receiving end of one of these super passive aggressive exchanges. The email starts with a description of each of the times the other person contacted you. It opens with lines like, “Just wanted to follow up one more time” or “Since it’s been a week and I haven’t heard from you” or something else that makes you feel like crap. Here’s the deal. If you make me feel bad for not responding, I probably am going to bring that bad feeling to my next interaction. The way you make someone feel before they interact with you is what you can expect during the interaction. If I am guilted into responding, I’m probably not going to be very happy when we do connect. I have taken to responding to these emails in a very short and quick way because I prefer to not be around people who make me feel bad.
- The “Just in case the answer’s yes here’s a bunch of stuff” - This one happens a lot in sales and also in entertainment. The first email is something short that asks me if I want more information. When I don’t respond, I get an email that is three pages long explaining the product or service. Now I have two emails in my inbox, one of which it’ll take me a few days to actually read and get through. Imagine if someone sent you a card in the mail that said, “Let me know if you’d like me to deliver 500 bags of these Gummy Bears and when you didn’t respond, they were on your doorstep the next day. This is how I feel when someone asks if I am interested in something and when they don’t hear back, just send it to me any way.
- The “I know you’re busy” - Do you? Do you know I’m busy or are there other things going on in my life right now? When someone throws that out there, it lands in the same category as the guilt trip email. If I am busy, I’d prefer to not be reminded of how busy I am and if I am not busy but I have some other thing happening in my life outside of business, I’m again reminded that I am behind in getting back to you. Either way, I do not feel good about my email communication and again, I will probably bring that to my reply.
Now I recognize that much of this post falls into the category of a rant, but as someone who understands the value of follow up I really just needed to explain how there are so many follow up techniques out there that rub people the wrong way. Following up with someone should always be polite and should be measured. If you’re impatient with the follow up, it’s easy to fall into one of these traps. What are some ways that you follow up that have been successful?
I’d love to hear them.
Remember that the fortune is in the follow up, but the failure is in the follow up F-up.