When it comes to maintaining successful business relationships, most people are primarily focused on the initial contact or the first round of contract negotiations. But those early conversations are only one part of the formula.
Whether you’re trying to close a deal or simply working to maintain a healthy business relationship, few things are more important than following up. When executed well, compelling follow-up can be the key to unlocking the full potential of your business and its partnerships.
1. Maintain full alignment
In the beginning, successful business relationships are focused on creating a true alignment between both parties. This is particularly important when aligning with big-picture goals, such as determining the most important key performance indicators and how to measure partnership success.
However, things can change over time. One partner may decide that they want to launch a new product or service. They may experience changes with other customers or partners. Or major global disruptions (either in supply chain or workforce) could affect their business.
Regardless of the circumstances, follow-up is critical to maintaining full compliance in any business relationship. Whether it’s because certain aspects of the relationship need to be reassessed or revised, or because partners simply need to be “in the know” about certain issues, consistency is key.
If regular follow-up is made a priority, business relationships can continue with the same level of trust and forward momentum with which they began. This doesn’t necessarily require constant communication — but it does require a commitment to communicate with your partner whenever something happens that might affect your work together.
2. Stay on top of things
Of course, follow-up is not only important in an already existing business relationship. It can also prove crucial when trying to close a deal or narrow down what a potential partnership should look like.
The thing is, you’re not the only one competing to work with a potential partner (or close a deal). There’s a lot of competition — and if you don’t follow through in a compelling way, it can be surprisingly easy to be forgotten.
It’s easy to see the effect of persuasive follow-up in sales, where 80 percent of successful sales require at least five follow-up calls after the initial meeting before closing the deal. Despite this, 44 percent of sales reps give up after the first follow-up call. When that happens, their product or service is out of mind — and the deal doesn’t close. A lack of follow-up can similarly ruin any potential business relationship.
As Paul do Campo, founder of OmniDrip, explained: “Never wait. In reality, you should contact potential partners or clients as soon as possible within the desired time frame – there is no room for complacency. This keeps you in the spotlight of the prospect, rather than letting someone else swoop in and get that opportunity for you. A compelling follow-up that focuses on their pain points will help you stand out in a sea of messages so you can keep the process moving forward.”
3. Showing concern
On average, businesses have been reported to lose 10 to 25 percent of their user base each year. While companies can fill the gap by finding new customers, this can ultimately be a much more expensive process than if they were able to retain their existing customers and earn their repeat business.
Among the many factors that influence customer loyalty, Convince and Convert notes how many brands use constantly monitored social media accounts to provide quick and informative responses to inquiries. This creates a sense of trust that helps customers feel cared for, even when connecting with a big brand through a digital platform.
In this case, a persuasive follow-up is not necessarily a sales attempt. Rather, it’s the timely and friendly handling of customer questions or comments that demonstrates the brand’s commitment to high-quality service.
Persuasive follow-up in business relationships can have similar results. For example, a supplier could respond quickly when its business customer places a new order, then follow up by sending messages with regular updates on the progress of the order and its delivery.
Once the order has been received, the supplier finally confirms that everything went right with the order to show their commitment to making things right.
This level of consistent follow-up can help build trust between the supplier and its client, while allowing for quick resolution of any issues that may have arisen. This can go a long way in cementing a long-term partnership.
Don’t neglect the follow up
Tracking is deceptively simple — and that’s why it so often slips through the cracks. It becomes an afterthought that is poorly done, if it gets any attention at all.
But it shouldn’t be like that. Assertive follow-through can prove key to establishing healthy, lasting relationships that keep you and your partners fully aligned, while also demonstrating your commitment and level of interest.
Whether the follow-up should happen via phone call, in-person meeting, email, or even a social media message depends on your company and its partners or customers. But what’s most important is that it happens on a consistent basis.