How a good, persistent followup can work for you

A little story:
In 2008 I had no money. I was living in a 10 person apartment in Chinatown, NYC. It was everything I could do to get my rent under $1000/month.  I had my first real job out of school: cold calling gyms + health clubs. And i was looking to make/ save money in any way possible.

My company was Gymticket.com. My job was to sell health clubs $5 leads; people requesting a free one-week pass to their club. Being the resourceful entrepreneur that I am, I decided that via Gymticket I at the least had my gym memberships taken care of.

My obvious plan was to sign up for a free week “Gymticket” at every club in Manhattan and be well on my way to free gyms for life. I didn’t count on running into a great salesperson.

 

The inbound request

First stop, New York Sports Club at 65th and Columbus, 3 blocks from my office.

When I got to the gym and gave them my “ticket” I was greeted by Shane, a genuine Irishman with the accent to prove it. Shane took my pass, set me up, & walked me through my free tour for trial guests (Ah, didn’t think about the tour part, this is going to be a pain in the ass to do every week with each new gym…). He paraded me through the weight room, the cardio, the spin studio (who cares!). The “state of the art” (read:1980’s) treadmills, the locker room… before finally letting me on my way. I hustled through, got a good workout in and got back to work before lunch break was over. Success.NYSC

Next day: show up, and don’t have a lock. Worried about all of those (imaginary) thieves that walk around gyms looking to steal $20 out of each open locker, I asked Shane if they had any locks to buy at the front desk. None. But, Shane was a nice guy. So he went out of his way and let me use his personal lock. What a guy! I locked my stuff up, had a nice little leg day and again, back in time for afternoon calls. What a scheme I had going!

Follow-up

Fast forward one week later, my trial is over and I’m ready to move on to the next gym. Shane, like any good salesperson, gives me a call. I quickly tell him I haven’t decided yet and hang up.

Day 2: Another call from Shane, ignore.
Day 3: Two more calls from Shane. “Hey! Good salesperson”, I thought. “Not happening though, buddy. :-)
Day 4: More calls. Ignore.
Day 5: Calls. Ignore.

This continued for the next 60 days! Sometimes it was every day, once in awhile he’d skip a day or two. Almost every call was accompanied by a voicemail: (In your best friendly Irish accent) “Hey Dave! It’s Shane over at New York Sports Club! Just wanted to let you know we have some great deals going on right now. Would love to have you by. 917.515.4396

He’d change it up slightly each time, but this was the gist of our 1-way conversation.

The prospect’s thought process

Here I am, spending my days cold calling gym owners, trying to get them to sign up or even answer my calls. I’m leaving messages like, “Hey, Mike… it’s Dave again. It’s Monday, you said you’d have an answer by last Thursday, so…. call me back! :-(” And I’m dodging this guy, Shane.

I went through the cycle that all my prospects go through.

Step 1: Ignore the salesperson because I haven’t made a decision (or made a decision that he doesn’t want to hear). I don’t know what to say to him.
Step 2: Start to feel bad that I’m dodging.
Step 3: Now embarrassed to be dodging, but I definitely can’t tell him no. No way to save face. Hide and pretend this conversation never happened.
Step 4: Get very annoyed at Shane. Turning my guilt for not answering him, into anger directed at Shane. (Which is always easier than blaming myself.)

And for my prospects, it usually ended there.

 ignore calls

Allow your prospects to save face

Shane, however, kept going. He got to the elusive 5th step: the turnaround. 

Step 5: By this point I’ve heard his same voicemail over and over again.  Never mad at me for ditching him, never desperate, never depressed, just happy-go-lucky, Shane! That nice guy who offered me his personal lock when I didn’t have one. The guy who just moved here from some town that I can’t pronounce in Ireland. Smiling… and every single day calling to wish me a  great day.

After 60 days of these calls, I finally said to myself, “damn it, Shane, I respect you!” I marched down to the NYSC on 65 and Columbus, looked Shane in the eye, shook his hand and said, “Sign me up.”


 

I’ve been a member of NYSC for 8 years now and have probably paid them thousands and thousands of dollars (note: New York City gyms are wayy too expensive).

That’s how this stuff works.

By Shane continuing to call, and delivering a happy-go-lucky message, I felt okay about dropping back in. He and I both knew that he’d been calling me and I’d been ignoring him for 60 days straight. But we were both willing to act like that didn’t happen.

Contrarily, if Shane had been leaving the types of messages I was leaving at the time, “..Mike, you said you would call me back 2 weeks ago, WTF!?” it would have been near impossible for me to respond to Shane. Not only would I have to eventually call him, but I would have had to face and own up to the fact that I was ignoring him. I’d create some excuse, and admit that I was being a bad person. THEN give him my credit card. I’m just not going to do that. I’d sooner never work out again.

I knew from Shane’s approach that he wasn’t going to drill or embarrass me for these actions. He’d just be happy to see me. He let me save face and consequently I was happy to give him my business.

Summary:

  1. DO NOT STOP FOLLOWING UP. Steli Efti has an incredible post here. Following up is Binary (“I follow up as many times as necessary until I get a response. I don’t care what the response is as long as I get one.”)
  2. When you follow up, be happy!
  3. Let your client save face.
  4. Keep calling.

 here’s millions of posts you can read about how to craft the perfect followup (add value, be funny, short and sweet etc, etc.). But the basic rules above work. And they work well.

It takes 30 seconds, max, to follow up with someone each day. And the happier you are, the happier you sound. That energy transfers!. Make sure it’s real and just do it.

Happy + real + persistence + fun = Sale