I WILL NOT FOLLOW UP WITH YOU: Enough with the sales people already!
Timothy A. Brown
I was speaking with a client with whom I have had a number of conversations over the last 20 years. She has attended a number of my lectures and commented that she respected my approach and wanted to discuss an appraisal of her practice with the intention of selling her practice. I fielded all of her major questions and we had a pleasant discussion.
She mentioned she would get a second opinion and I encouraged her to do so. I would do the same and for professionals with retirement plans it is necessary to understand all the options available to them. As our call came to an end, she said that she would wait for my follow-up.
“Why?” I said, “Is there anything that we did not address?” She said, “No, I am completely satisfied but isn’t a follow-up what sales people do?”
I have been in this business for over 40 years, since starting with my father in the late 1970s. Like many of my established clients I enjoy the luxury of a solid referral base. To be successful over time, you have to be ethical. I have invested time with many clients and want them to be successful, as I hope they want me to be. I see no need to be overly aggressive and see this as a professional courtesy to my clients. There is no need to pester or badger clients, as they are quite capable of making very competent decisions for themselves.
I have been approached by many professionals (financial planners, bankers, lawyers, accountants etc.) who are seeking to do business with my company. I respect salespeople; I know it is one of the hardest jobs out there. Rejection is dominant in every salespersons’ world.
My approach with health care professionals may seem counter-intuitive? When I am investigating a service provider, I am annoyed when someone continues to follow-up when I have no further questions. Sales gurus like to promote a 10-points contact rule before a client will make a decision. In my experience this is simply NOT a valid strategy. The professionals I deal with are intelligent, self-motivated and do their own due diligence. Thus, 10 points of contact is excessive.
If I cannot make an impression in well under five contacts, I should probably re-evaluate my career choice. I make most of my own consumption decisions after my initial contact because I have done my homework already.
Doctor, if you call for a quote on an appraisal or wish to discuss selling your practice, I promise you this: I will not follow-up with you unnecessarily.
Timothy Brown is Chief Executive Office of ROI Corporation Canada’s national professional practice and brokerage firm.