A Personal Policy That Creates Good Luck

I know you’ve had this experience: you talk to someone at customer service about an issue you are having and they are not being helpful. Then, they drop the bomb: “That’s just our policy.” Just your luck.

Those words probably elevated your blood pressure. Unless you were being unreasonable with your request, this unwillingness to help the hand that feeds them will eventually lead the way to fewer customers.  It’s the corporate way of saying that they really don’t care about your issues and that profits (i.e., the company’s issues) come first. The company is not creating good will, which leads to good luck.

Your Personal Policy

Companies aren’t the only ones with policies that shun people. Individuals can have a personal policy that can be a turn-off, too. These policies don’t have to be written. They are conveyed through our actions.

People will interpret our behavior as a personal policy. If we shut out others, it can have a negative effect on our own good luck. Examples of personal policies you might have, but might not be aware of:

  • I wait until someone else says hello first
  • I don’t look people in the eyes when speaking to them.
  • I comment on difficult discussions by email or online, preferring to avoid face-to-face conversations when possible.
  • When I attend business networking events, I find someone I know and hang out with them instead of meeting new people.
  • When my colleagues go out for lunch, I don’t offer to drive.

These seemingly innocuous behaviors send a strong signal to others about you. Those who don’t know you typically won’t understand the nuances of your personality during  your first interaction. Introverts might have a bigger hump to overcome than extroverts when it comes to engaging people. Make sure you are sending the right message.

How you come across matters. Your body language and actions convey your personal policy. Just be sure it adds to your good luck and doesn’t take from it.

The Follow Up

Try this test the next time you are looking for any type of service:

  1. Visit several companies’ web sites.
  2. Fill out their contact form explaining what you are looking for.
  3. Count how many of these companies reply.

According to AMR Research, you can expect only 30% to follow up. Why is follow up so rare?

Likely reasons:

  • Your request falls outside of the scope of the company’s services.
  • The size of your potential business is lower than their minimum threshold.
  • There was no way to determine your level of interest or ability to purchase.

Unlikely reasons:

  • You have a lazy sales rep.
  • The company doesn’t instantly forward leads to sales reps for follow up.

If the company’s online form did not collect enough information, it might be hard for a sales person to know whether you are ready to buy. Commission-based sales people look for a return on their time quickly so they filter out unqualified leads to focus on ones that can result in real business opportunities.

Unfortunately, a delayed or non-existent response can be frustrating from the buyer’s perspective. This can create ill will that affects the company’s reputation.

Put Yourself in Their Shoes

You may not be a sales person, but all of us receive requests by people that require a response. How quickly do you follow up when a colleague or acquaintance contacts you about an opportunity or needs assistance?

When you respond fast in every case, even if the answer is “can you send me more information, it will help me to give you the right answer” or “sorry, I can’t help you” you solidify your reputation as a trustworthy person who can be relied upon for timely follow up and honest feedback.

It is a competitive world and creating a personal brand of integrity has the ripple effect of increasing your day-to-day luck because people will remember their experience with you.

5 Successful Executives and Their Work Habits

Inc. Magazine has a section that profiles entrepreneurs’ work habits, The Way I Work. Every person they highlight shares a common theme: all of them spend a large amount of time looking at issues at a high level. They want to make sure that the activities they and their staff work on are aligned with overall goals.  In other words, their habits allow them to work on their business, not just in it.

Here are 5 good work habits from successful entrepreneurs:

1. Always keep your biggest dream in focus. Inc’s piece about social media celebrity Gary Vaynerchuck highlights his obsession for one-to-one engagement and how everything he does is directed at achieving his ultimate goal: acquiring the New York Jets.

2. Use email filters and folders for screening. Your Inbox is probably flooded. David Karp, founder of Tumblr, had trouble managing his emails. He let emails pile up, forgot to reply to important messages and got overwhelmed. Now, filters route messages into folders so he stays organized.

3. Obsess over metrics. LivingSocial CEO Tim O’Shaughnessy checks his company’s aggregate revenue, number of units sold and other data every morning before getting out of bed – that’s at 5:00 a.m. He is constantly looking for patterns in numbers. They give insight into what to improve and where new opportunities exist.

4. Don’t obsess over work hours. Jason Fried, CEO of 37Signals, reports that he has no idea how many hours his staff works. He just knows that they get the work done. And isn’t that the most important part? Stop clocking yourself. It’s irrelevant.

5. Feel okay about making mistakes. “Don’t overthink” is Rashmi Sinha‘s matra. The CEO of SlideShare makes a good point when she says that if you spend too much time thinking about something before you execute it, you still might make a mistake. It’s better to roll out software faster than to overthink it worrying that something isn’t quite right.

When and How to Follow Up with Leads

About three weeks ago, I was looking for a certain type of service. I clicked on an ad on Google and filled out a contact form for the advertiser to reach me. It was during the week so I figured a sales person would call me or at least follow up by email the next day.

No response.

Three weeks later, I got a very generic email. If you take out the type of service, which I blurred in the picture below, you could apply this email to virtually any service. Plus, the odd part is that their response was about me reselling their service, which is not what I inquired about at all.

This is a sad story. The company had paid Google for the click on their ad, gotten a qualified sales lead and then effectively threw it away because they didn’t follow up in a timely manner or with relevant material.  (Pssst… the letter was for concierge services. Would you have guessed that?)

Their lead generation campaign is generating sales leads. Yet nobody is following up the right way. They are wasting their money.

Follow Up the Right Way

Create a poster board on your wall with this reminder.  When someone contacts you:

  1. Reply within 1 business day (same day if possible) by phone.
  2. If you don’t reach them, try again the next day.
  3. If you still don’t reach them, send an email.
  4. If you haven’t gotten in touch with them in a week, send a follow up letter by email – or better yet record and send a personalized video – using this sample text:

John, thanks again for reaching out to us last week about our services. I’ve been unable to reach you via phone or email. I know you’re busy and I appreciate your interest in finding out whether our services would be a good fit for your company.

To help you make an informed decision about [your type of services], I will periodically send you our email newsletter. It contains a wealth of material that you might find useful for your business. When you are ready to connect, reach me at [phone number or email]. All the best, [signature].

If they haven’t followed up with you after several initial attempts, they may not be a qualified lead. By sending them your company email newsletter filled with educational – not sales – material, you stay on their minds so that when they are “sales ready,” they think of you first and reach out.  By then, you will have solidified your position as a trusted source so they will very likely take your call.