After you’ve had your first meeting with a prospective buyer of your product or service, there is still more to do to complete your transaction. This is the step on which many potential entrepreneurs stumble – following up.
It is thrilling to have that first meeting and likely you experience an adrenaline rush. After the meeting you may feel drained and as though you are done for the time being.
I advise that immediately after you return to your office, you take out the business cards you collected from the meeting, gather the people from your staff who attended the meeting with you, if any, to make sure that you all agree with the results as you remember them to be. Then write down any action items that were discussed at the meeting and the steps needing your attention.
Write a letter confirming the meeting and what you think the outcome was as soon as you are able to do so. Immediately is best. You can send it in any form that is convenient, fax, e-mail or by the postal service, but it is important to send it. I think every show of good manners will be rewarded at some point. Remember to say in the letter that you will be calling within a week. Then do call.
I always use the telephone and I think it is still important to speak to people when you need important information, and your business or product is important. It is so much easier to “hear” things from the tone in someone’s voice and to clarify points of confusion either of you might have when you have them on the phone.
However, if you need to communicate via e-mail, then at least follow up when you are supposed to. Don’t let too much time pass without communicating with your contact.
Keep yourself and your company in front of the person you need to see, so to speak. Send them a note about the meeting, phone in a week or less and then send a fax or an e-mail reminding them you wish to have another meeting or have met one of your deadlines, or any other fact you need to mention. If something happens in your company or with your product, call again or send an announcement to your contact.
This does, however, bring up another point. Don’t become so anxious or excited about the potential for a deal that you become a nuisance to your contact. If someone never seems to be there when you call, doesn’t answer voice mail messages or e-mail messages from you and hasn’t for a long time – more than two weeks – take that as a sign that they don’t want to talk to you.
At that point I think a simple letter ending your discussions is in order. Just thank them for their time and continue taking steps to keep your business moving forward. Don’t dwell on the fact that one contact didn’t work out.
This is another small part of doing business that is sometimes overlooked in today’s business world but can help you succeed as an entrepreneur with style.