Why You Can’t Overlook the Follow-Through in Business

Posted by on January 25, 2012 in Business Etiquette [ 1 Comment ]

For the love of God, please just do what you say you will do. Simply follow-through.

Professionally I interact with a lot of different types of people from young entrepreneurs and budding professionals to seasoned creatives and experienced venture capitalists. I’ve noticed that one common thread of success (or lack thereof) is the follow-through.

At the end of our first or second call, it goes something like this:

“Brent, it’s been great talking with you. Thanks for taking the time. You’re smart, creative, and sound very good looking (ok, I’m making this part up). I’d love to see if we can find a way to work together doing [insert possible partnership opportunity]. In the next [insert time frame], I will follow up with [insert things for me to review]. Have a great day/week.”

The results from this send-off vary greatly. I find that it usually goes one of three ways:

Group #1: The follow-through-ers

It seems that 15% of the time, the person will do exactly what he/she promised. When this happens, I sit up and take attention. It means the person is highly organized, diligent and focused. Or, the person is extremely lucky. Either way, they move up about 10 notches on the respect ladder. I will take a very close look at what they sent me and seriously consider working with them in some capacity. If it doesn’t work out this time, I will make a strong effort to stay in touch with them in hopes that something works out down the road. I find these people to be highly successful and enjoyable to work with.

Group #2: The ones full of excuses

Unfortunately, it seems that 60% of the time the person will either be delayed or send something over that in no way resembles what we discussed. I deduce that this person is probably disorganized, lazy, or lacks basic intelligence. Occasionally their note is accompanied by a justification for the delay. About 80% of the time it smells like bullshit, but at least I give them credit for remembering it was delayed. For this group, I will wearily review what was sent. If what he sent is valuable, I will try to try to test him again with another follow-through opportunity. Pass that and I usually consider the first go-round to be an aberration. Fail the second time and move into my third group. These people are a mixed bag of success. Some are brilliant and disorganized. Others are inexperienced and too busy. Regardless, this group usually achieves some success but rarely maximizes their potential.

Group #3: The ones who don’t bother

Finally, about 25% of the time, the person never follows up. I mean not a single word.  Sometimes I’ll run into them again. Most act like nothing ever happened and explain that we need to “reconnect.” Periodically the person will remember they flubbed it and apologize. Regardless, I have very little interest in interacting with this group. Ever. These people are always complaining about “not getting ahead” and never understand why.

Where Does Your Company Land?

No one has a perfect track record of follow-throughs. I sure don’t. If I’m being honest, I probably bat about .950. When life gets in the way or I just forget, I immediately apologize and acknowledge my error.

In the New Year, make a habit of following through. On everything. Every time. You’ll be amazed at the opportunities that will arise because of it.

Photo Credit: tuckerhead.com

Author Bio:

Brent Beshore is the CEO of AdVentures recently ranked #28 on the 2011 Inc 500 list of fastest growing companies in the U.S.

One thought on “Why You Can’t Overlook the Follow-Through in Business

  1. avatarWade

    A big way to keep from doing this is to not over-promise. Not every lunch, coffee event, or call requires you to promise to do new business.

    Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up when you’re talking with someone new and want to start on two or three cool new projects and naturally you’ll want “send a proposal over yesterday!”

    Instead make sure you know exactly what your current workload and capacity is. If you can’t handle something – don’t promise it. If you run into something new and interesting and it fits where you want to take your life – the consider it.

    No one will fault you for being honest and saying no. If they do, do you really want to work with them anyway?

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