When to Follow Up

woman-on-phoneMy colleague and I were discussing the art of following up from meetings. It actually started out trying to decide when someone said tomorrow, next week, and in a few days what they actually meant.

That being said, follow up timing is a key skill that most people lack. The reason a meeting was held is presumably to accomplish something. Without a clear understanding of the next steps, why bother having the meeting in the first place?

In my opinion, here are some basic guidelines:

  1. Inbound Sales Request– the goal should be to give a full response immediately after receipt. In practice, no more than two hours should go by. The longer you wait, the more chance that potential client is finding someone else to fill their need.
  2. Minutes from a Formal Meeting– minutes should be distributed from meetings within 24-48 hours of the meeting ending. You want these attendees to get the minutes, review them and be able to comment while the meeting is still fresh in their minds.
  3. Recap from a Sales Call– should be done within 24 hours of the meeting ending and should be done by the company making the presentation. The note should include a thank you to all attendees plus a brief recap of the issues discussed and next steps.
  4. Summary from Internal Meeting– meeting organizers should always send a recap of the meeting that they called within 24 hours of the meeting ending.
  5. Internal or External Customer Contacts– if it is not an urgent issue, messages should be returned in four work hours. Urgent matters should be handled at once.
  6. Cold Calls– if you are not interested in the product and service, take the time to unsubscribe. It helps clean your inbox plus it lets the sender know that you are not interested in their product. Professional courtesy goes a long way in building your reputation.
  7. Your Superiors– thirty-minute max unless you are in a meeting or on a plane. For the most part, your superiors are contacting you for a reason, make sure you get right back to them- especially if they took the time to call you.

Your sense of urgency in your follow up timing really helps pace projects. If you are lackadaisical on your follow up, your team feels it. Being on top of when to follow up immediately after an event sets the tone for what is expected for the rest of the project.

As with most of my blogs, this isn’t rocket science, should be altered for your particular situation, and doesn’t include casual contacts where texts are appropriate.

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