I calculated last week that the cost to British business of chasing up business leads is around £2.73 billion per annum. Actually I didn’t. It’s a complete guess. It’s probably the sort of figure that feels right to the frazzled salesperson wearing out real or virtual shoe leather every day of the week. Sometimes it goes like clockwork and sometimes the lead that seemed so close, so very, very close goes cold.
Then the dilemma kicks in. How many times can I email or call this person? Will I look like a Norman No Mates if I keep chasing? How often can I “hope you’re well”?
Maybe, the onus is on the chased to be a little clearer. “No” is as useful and life-affirming an answer as “yes”. It is the uncertainty that is the wasteful bit.
I’ve been a “seller” and a “sold to”. Neither is easy and I have been guilty as a buyer of taking far too much time to get to a yes or a no.
Maybe we should make better use of autoreplies.
Here, then, are a few autoreplies that people being sold a product or service could set up to make life a bit easier.
“I’m thinking in detail about what you’ve just sent me. Please wait by your laptop for my response.”
“Hi, I’m out of the office at the moment. I have set up a rule in my email programme to deliver this message to you and you alone in the event that you chase me for an answer. I haven’t decided whether I want to go ahead yet. I’ve had lots of things to do and it has fallen down the priority list a bit. However, I want you to know that I have absolutely no objection to you chasing me as often as you want. Chasing me will not have a negative impact on our relationship. In fact, I see your enthusiasm as a very good thing. Hopefully we’ll get to work together soon.”
“Congratulations. You’ve won. I’m a bit tied up this week and I’ll write with more detail as soon as possible.”
“I am out of the office at a job interview. I will reply to you if I am unsuccessful.”
“Thanks for all the effort. Very much appreciated. I know that you put a lot into this and it really hasn’t gone unnoticed. I’ll get back to you asap.”
“I’m really sorry, but circumstances have changed and we can’t commit now. Hopefully the situation will change in a few months, but I can’t be sure. I really appreciate what you’ve done. I know it has taken a lot of your time and I appreciate what a distraction waiting for an answer can be.”
“Thanks for writing. I really appreciate the thought. I’m so tied up with [xxxx] that I haven’t got time right now to respond in detail. I hope to be able to reply properly in a few weeks.”