The Mistake That Has Cost me $1.75M

By my calculation I've left $1.75M in fees on the table because I didn’t follow-up when I said I would. And I’m not exaggerating. Whether it was an email summarizing the meeting or a proposal not delivered when I said I would be, I didn’t do it. Rightly so, this engendered distrust in my prospective client. “Well if he can’t deliver a proposal when he said he would, what about the complex financial model we talked about?"

A few weeks ago I was at my desk at the soulpepper office and a 50-ish gentlemen wearing a suit walked in. He asked to speak to someone about business development and investment opportunities. Props man, cold pitching is nerve racking. So I’ll give you a chance.

We chatted for a few minutes and he explained his idea. A dashboard combining data from Google Analytics, Email Service Provider and online advertising like Adwords to give a clear picture of how customers are interacting with a company before and after they buy. It’s actually a problem most retailers have. I gave him my card and he said he would follow-up with a deck the next day. I still haven’t heard anything. Even if he sends me a deck, I’m already “out” on the opportunity.

My grandmother taught me how you do the big things is enjoying the process of getting the small things right.

I’m not naturally good at follow-up. As my girlfriend and family will attest as soon as a conversation is done my mind empties and I’m on to the next thing. So I’ve had to create some systems to ensure I follow-up when I’m supposed to. I love David Allen’s Getting Things Done system, but man it’s cumbersome. So I adapted it:

- If it takes less than 2 minutes, do it.

- After a conversation I summarize it - with any next steps and when they will be done - in an email

- If a thought occurs to me while running or walking I immediately write it down on my phone in the appropriate note on Evernote or in an email to myself for later categorization.

- All meetings, plans and thoughts go into Evernote so I can search for them later

- Use todoist to record future to-dos  

- Use the CRM Streak to schedule follow-ups on people, or potential clients, I have conversations with

Don’t be me. Just follow-up and you’ll get exactly what you want.