Follow-up: the missing link in professional services business development?

by Kirsten Hodgson

Image courtesy Simon Howden

How many times have you had a great meeting with a prospect, sent them a follow-up proposal and wondered what became of it? 

I'm as guilty as the next person. Often I'll follow up once or twice and leave a message if I can't get hold of the person and then simply…

…give up. Just like that. I write it off and tell myself they would have called if they were interested. 

And that might be the case. But do I know that for sure? 

No. And that's the problem.

It might be uncomfortable to be a squeaky wheel but you've put in the effort to get this far so it's vital to follow up until you get a definitive yes/no answer. 

There are a whole host of reasons why people don't get back to you: 

  • They get busy. 
  • They need to talk to someone else internally. 
  • Something more urgent crops up and your project becomes lower priority. 
  • Their decision-making process is notoriously s l o w. 
  • They need to do some work at their end and haven't got around to it. 

Perhaps you can help your contact along by offering to present to their key stakeholders to overcome any objections and to get them on board. 

Or you may just need patience and persistence. 

And a diary note about when to follow up. 

Following-up until you know what decision the prospect has made could make a huge difference to the number of opportunities you turn into work. Even if they have decided not to go with you, you then have the opportunity to understand why and to modify future approaches accordingly. 

Have you ever thought an opportunity had died only for it to spring back to life? 

What other tips would you share? 


Specialising in professional services and law firm marketing. I help firms to retain and grow existing clients and attract more of their ideal clients. My core services include social media for lead generation, voice of the client programmes and tender strategy and development. Outside of work I love to run. I’m a bit like Forest Gump in that I’m not that quick but can keep going for ages. I also enjoy coming up with new inventions. Unfortunately, most of them have already been invented! | * Professional services marketing consultant | * Legal marketing consultant | * Law firm marketing consultant