Archive for February, 2009


7 Ways to Follow Up Persistence Without Being a Pest

The communication game is changing faster than we can keep up with it. It used to be that we could send an email and expect a response in a day or two. We could send a voicemail and assume that if we got no response in three days they weren’t interested. We even trust that the good old USPS paper mail delivery would deliver in 2 days local and 5 days cross country.

Now we don’t know if the message was even delivered. Even with good spam filters, seemingly reliable voicemail, and USPS it seems more stuff is delayed or lost. There is a local municipality four miles away that my clients routinely tell me they received a letter or invitation from me three weeks late. Several people in the same area report the same thing, so I know it’s not just ignoring the mail. Emails get lost in the sea of daily incoming backlog. And even voicemails occasionally take hours to get through.

Our communication systems have generally been so reliable that we take for granted they’re working. But sometimes they don’t and that’s why you need to follow up if you want to make the sale, provide good service, or just stay in touch.  But how do you draw the line between persistence (looking virtuous) and pest (looking desperate or unprofessional)?

Here’s 5 ways to be persistent without being a pest:

  1. Don’t assume that someone is not interested just because they don’t call you back. I have had many instances where I reached someone on the fourth try, after leaving three voicemails only to have them thank me because they didn’t get back to me yet. More than likely those people went on to do business with me.
  2. Follow up important emails, incoming or outgoing, with a voicemail. These days people have three or four email accounts beyond their primary one. Sometimes they don’t check those secondary accounts for days. So you may have sent it to a slow response email box (which may have been the primary when you wrote it down originally).
  3. Sadly, the same goes for a fax (yes, people do still send those).  Just because you got a confirmation that the fax went through, they may not have gotten it.  Fax machines are in distant rooms shared by others.  The faxes get picked up inadvertently by someone else.  Sometimes it’s sitting in memory waiting for paper.  So call and leave a voicemail saying that you sent it.
  4. Leave more than one voicemail. We think voicemail is reliable but it seems to be getting less so as time goes on. When someone asks a question and you want to answer, but you only get their voicemail, leave a message. Try every couple of days and leave another voicemail. Make sure the total time span is more than a week because the person may be traveling. If I really want to talk to the person and let them know I’ve been following up, I’ll call at different times of the day.
  5. Tell them that you value being reliable and that’s why you are following up multiple times. Say something like, “I pride myself in being responsible so I am trying again. If you have already gotten your answer and don’t want me to follow up, drop me a voicemail or email.” It may seem obvious to you that you have a high level of commitment just because you did follow up, but stating your commitment is much more powerful.
  6. Keep it light and use it as a way to build a better relationship. Say something friendly like, “Hi, I was just trying to get back to you and get your questions answered so I thought I’d try again.”
  7. I try to leave no more than four voicemails before switching to one or two emails and vice versa. Sometimes switching communications gets the response.
  8. The book “The 22 immutable Laws of Marketing” claims that the true battle for territory is the battle to position yourself (the brand called “you”) skillfully in the front end of the client’s mind. I try to make part of my brand “persistently reliable” because most of my clients and friends are as busy as I am.

Lastly, 80% of sales are made after the fourth contact, so don’t be part of the 73% that stop after two contacts. See my other post Follow up is Free and Profitable on that topic.

Tell me what you do to follow up persistently without being a pest? 

Now stop reading about persistence without being a pest and start doing! Let’s create your personal profit strategies for growing profit. Call small business profitability coach Merra Lee Moffitt, CFP®.  She can be reached at, 888-920-2030 or by email at

“Seek new clients, seize better income, capture more profit”

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