Tuesday, August 30, 2011
Dan Callahan

Some professionals occasionally exhibit poor sales and business development behavior.  I probably should not be surprised but it still makes me chuckle…


At a very well done AFCEA-DC event, I had an enjoyable conversation with another professional whom I have seen over the years and occasionally talked with.  At this most recent conversation, I learned that his daughter when to my ala mater high school (a fun coincidence!) and we talked about some fund raising that he was involved in.  I don’t remember talking about his company products (which did not bother me one bit).  In general, a polite conversation.


In all honesty, his follow up broke several of my basic rules; now, my impression is worse than if he had not followed up with me.  Tell me if you agree or am I whining too much?

A) His follow up e-mail contained six attachments which I--in no way, requested.  Bad e-mail etiquette.

B) The message was a pro forma, with my name inserted at the top (as if an admin person generated it, sending the same message to a stack of business cards that he brought back from the event).  More bad form.

C) He in no way acknowledged our conversation and our common bond of the high school.  Hmmm. 

D) He assumed I would want product information in the first place.  Giving something to someone who did not request it is worse than not giving it in the first place.

E) He inserted “ FW:” into his subject line suggesting this was a thread, not a first e-mail message  (as most of you know, this is a technique of mass e-mail marketers to fool recipients into believing the e-mail is more important than it probably is).  Again, bad form.

F) Totally ignored the fact that I am another BD professional ... Why would I be purchasing enterprise software products?  For my family?  I don’t get it.  I am in no way a qualified lead for enterprise software products.  What was he thinking?


Now, I’m convinced that he neither remembered our conversation nor wants a professional relationship with me.  I am also convinced he is not a professional—or at least does not seek real business relationships.  If this is how he treats his clients, I’m not impressed.  Am I too picky or just tired of poor follow up?  What do you think? 


A Really Good example of Great Follow up


Well, now that we’ve examined poor follow up (at least in my opinion) let’s take a look at the opposite.

Ideally, follow up to contacts should be rapid, relevant, relationship-based and real (i.e., honest).

·         Rapid is obvious enough… the longer we wait, the less likely anyone will remember us.

·         Relevant to the interaction that took place at the event where you met!  Else, you risk making the contact wonder “does he even remember meeting me?  Is this a canned follow up?”  How rude!  I would rather he not followed up with me at all.

·         “Relationship based” means, unless you agreed or the person requested some fact, or document, etc., the purpose of following up is generally about building business relationships.  As described in Jeffrey Gitomer’s Little Black Book of Connections (Bard Press, 2006), “Relationships are hard to develop, take time to mature and must be nurtured along the way.  But once achieved, they are the most powerful force in the business world”.

·         Be Real.  Again, Gitomer advises: “Be yourself.  Talk real, act real, be real and you will find that others will do the same in return.”  Unless they feel used.

We’ll cover the necessity of  ‘eye contact’ on another blog and how not establishing this suggests insincerity.  But networking-- even in the intelligence community and Defense Department is not hard if you follow these and other basic rules of human interaction.

Question: have you experienced either extreme—really good networking or really poor networking, in your recent travels?


BTW:  Hats-off to the AFCEA-DC planning committee!  The Cybersecurity Symposium (7/15/2011) was stellar!