This is conversation 21 of 101 conversations about how small business owners build their networks. Learn what Michael, a successful financial advisor and follow-up expert has learned by interviewing 50 entrepreneurs about following up.
Location: Minneapolis, MN
His Business: Cavitt Associates
How we met: Through the One Hundred Dollar Club Facebook group
Michael always wanted to write a book about how to start a business, but he didn’t know exactly what he would write until he read The Luck Factor: Why Some People Are Luckier Than Others and How You Can Become One of Them by Max Gunther. In the book Gunther outlines 5 attitudes toward life that lead to “luckier” lives. The first of these is the “spiderweb structure,” which essentially means that people who build large networks of people are more likely to unexpectedly “get lucky” because of their connections with those people.
After reading that, Michael decided to write about how to have more meaningful relationships. He chose to focus on the follow-up process, because he found out that 80% of people are not naturally adept at following up. This, coupled with the fact that 80% of sales aren’t made until after the 5th point of contact, can be a real problem for leaders of sales rep teams.
Michael interviewed 50 people about the what and the why of following up, including the author of Get Clients Now! (TM): A 28-Day Marketing Program for Professionals, Consultants, and Coaches, C.J. Hayden.
He asked Hayden why people don’t follow up with new contacts, and she said it is because of fear. We go on social media, we put up fliers, and we do other marketing activities instead of following up, because as small businesses, we are selling ourselves and the fear of rejection feels so great that we’d rather not put ourselves out there.
So how did Michael get to interview Hayden and the 49 other people he interviewed for his book?
By using his connections and asking.
He had previously interviewed with Hayden, so when he was writing his own book, she happily agreed to interview with him.
Michael told me that he asked a total of 51 people if they were willing to do an interview with him for his book – 50 agreed. Now he says he wished he would have asked more people to interview with him.
Lesson learned: If you want people to help you out, sometimes all you have to do is ask.
Based on his experience with his interviews, Michael gave me some great tips for this project, including:
- Advice from people who aren’t naturally good at follow-up but have developed a system for it is more helpful than advice from the 20% who are naturally good at it. Systems are replicable; natural talent isn’t.
- Record the interviews and then write them up. “You get the general ideas when you don’t record them. What you miss are the nuances,” he says. (Since speaking with Michael, I’ve developed a system that he suggested of calling people via Skype and then recording the calls. I use Quicktime recorder, which is free with a Mac.)
Michael also said that people who are naturally good at following up are always tweaking their system. Can this be generalized to other networking activities? I think it can.
- Follow-up at least 5 times.
- People often don’t follow-up because of fear. It’s scary to put yourself out there.
- When you want help, all you have to do is ask. (As long as you’re asking in the right way.)
- You can often learn more from people who are still figuring things out than from people who are naturally talented at something.
Want to connect with Michael? Check out his LinkedIn profile here.